The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on patients' access to healthcare. With social distancing measures in place, many patients have been unable to visit their healthcare providers in-person, leading to an increased reliance on telemedicine and remote consultations.
Health information exchanges (HIEs) play a critical role in supporting this shift by enabling secure and interoperable exchange of patient health information. Through HIEs, patients' medical records can be accessed by their healthcare providers, regardless of where they receive care. This ensures that providers have access to up-to-date and complete medical information, allowing for more informed diagnoses and treatments, reducing the risk of medical errors.
Traditional barriers to adoption
Now that the pandemic is behind us, HIEs capitalize on the critical role that they played but continue to face some of traditional challenges that are barriers for adoption and full value realization.
Among these challenges is interoperability and it’s fair to say that good progress has been achieved over the past few years as FHIR and other standards are becoming the norm across the industry. Another critical challenge that keeps evolving is protecting patient data privacy and security. HIEs are walking a tightrope between providing efficient and secure information exchange, while also ensuring that patient privacy remains protected.
Two additional challenges in particular require a transformation of how HIEs think about their services and create an opportunity for service design to be a viable solution. These challenges are:
- New revenue streams: HIEs are often funded by grants, which can create uncertainty about long-term funding. With growing costs of operations, HIEs are challenged to create new value-added services that can be monetized with their stakeholders, especially providers, and in return generate new revenue streams.
- Patient engagement: HIEs cannot be effective without patient engagement and their involvement in the process. However, for many patients, HIEs platforms are not very user intuitive and do not always reflect their needs.
Using service design to address HIE challenges
To address these challenges, HIEs should consider a more structured approach to address these challenges by leveraging service design to align their users’ needs with their digital platforms strategies. For HIEs, service design can help increase patient adoption and unlock value-driven revenue streams. Service design provides a framework to listen better and incorporate what stakeholders’ needs more efficiently, enabling agile and nimble execution versus a more traditional approach of organic services evolution.
Three service design principles to consider
We suggest HIEs consider the following service design principles to achieve this:
- Dive into user research and empathy before talking about strategy: Listen. Listen. Listen. Begin with understanding the needs, motivations, and behaviors of users. This could involve conducting research and empathy mapping with patients, providers, and administrators to understand their needs and experiences.
- Evolve your operating model: Adapt your operating model to support agile and iterative strategy planning and execution where service concepts and design are always a moving target that is refined and improved based on feedback. Make sure your budgeting and procurement processes evolve to support fast strategic maneuvers.
- Roll up sleeves and start co-creation and prototyping with patients and other stakeholders: Involve users in co-creation and prototyping, test your understanding of their needs and refine the model as you learn more. Patients, providers, and administrators should be part of the ongoing functionality of the design and testing. A traditional management consulting approach could be costly and often lacks an executable blueprint.
By incorporating service design principles into their strategy and operating model, HIEs can ensure that their systems are user-centered and accessible, and that they can do much needed turns and sometimes u-turns to meet the needs and preferences of all stakeholders. This flexibility is what is needed to increase adoption and to unlock hidden opportunities for new revenue streams and value drivers.
At Rangle, we use digital to disrupt healthcare – we've helped health tech and pharma firms of all sizes innovate and transform in ways that get measurable results. Interested in learning more? Reach out to us for a conversation and assessment of your unique digital context. We're here to support you in an advisory or delivery capacity.