Patient engagement has created a digital revolution in health care communications.

Digital technology gives health care companies, providers and patients unique access to a wealth of information like never before.

Mobile apps, patient portals, social media and many other web-based health care information channels are finding their way into health care communications strategies. Telemedicine is making headway, too.

Keeping abreast of the complex and rapidly evolving health care ecosystem can be daunting and many health care clients are only just beginning to realize the enormous role digital technology can play.

Joel Erb, Padilla’s new digital growth expert, says health care clients increasingly seek digital solutions for more patient engagement, particularly as the industry continues to shift from a fee-for-service model to a pay-for-performance one.

Digital patient engagement is helping improve patient care outcomes and reduce health care costs. To learn more, I sat down with Joel to get his take on the connection and upsurge of digital patient engagement services.

What trends are you seeing for patient and customer engagement?

Patients want more access to not only their health records, but every aspect of the patient journey – from online appointments and direct communication with physicians and tele-visits, to remote monitoring and coaching based on real-time vitals. As we progress forward, interactions will become increasingly virtual.

What are the common challenges that health care clients face in “going digital” to better serve their patients?

The largest barrier in delivering an engaging digital patient experience is integration with electronic medical records (EMR) and the “houses” of patient data. While there is progress, true opportunities will arise when we can build rich applications tied to patient data, without having to rely on the applications created solely by the EMR giants.

HIPAA and PHI requirements, while critical, are often too stringent. While we are seeing governing bodies understand opportunities in digital health, they are struggling to keep pace with advances in technology and the evolution of the patient experience.

The FDA has begun addressing the regulatory burden of mobile apps and digital medical devices, which is a positive sign that the value of technology in health care is being recognized.

Simply implementing an online appointment or bill-pay solution from EMR providers, like EPIC or Cerner, is not enough. These “silver bullet” solutions, while a good step, do not address the unique needs of various patient populations and the digital experience they require.

They demand an integrated approach, where all interactions with a health provider can take place in a single place, without the need to download a different app for each interaction. Health providers must consider the patient experience in conjunction with their brand experience.

What is unique about Padilla’s digital approach to patient-centric solutions?

At Padilla, we start all digital engagements with a problem to be solved; whether it’s low patient appointment generation online, high readmission rates or poor post-discharge therapy adherence.

Once we’ve properly framed the problem space and defined success, we engage with all stakeholders, patients and providers, to design the solution together following a design-thinking mindset.

Through prototyping, testing and iterating on the solution with the actual users before “laying” the first line of code, we can arrive at a digital experience that achieves the goals it’s set out to reach without going over-budget and keeping in-step with desired timelines.

With our experience building HIPAA-compliant applications and a deep understanding of the health industry, we are armed to transform the way health professionals deliver care and improve the quality of care patients experience.

What advice would you offer to prospective health care clients who are seeking to reduce costs and improving outcomes through digital solutions?

Never jump to a solution.

While an app can bring value, without fully understanding the problem and witnessing first-hand how it’s currently being solved, you might outlook more pressing issues that need to be addressed.

Through our Digital Discovery phase, we partner with our clients to uncover the opportunities they never knew existed.

Patients have a choice—and in this digital age—the digital experience can be the difference between someone choosing you or another provider.

Want to learn how digital can help improve patient engagement? Connect with us.