What is patient engagement for a Chief Medical Information Officer? A guide for CEOs

In the first article in this series, we explored the challenges for Patient Access Center Managers, a vital role on the frontlines of patient engagement. This time, we’re looking at patient engagement from the perspective of the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO). Let’s examine the challenges CMIOs face, and the technology capabilities they need to improve physician experiences and help them care for their patients.

Caring for the caregivers

For any healthcare provider, the danger of physician burnout is never far away, and it’s a constant focus for every CMIO. Over the last two years, burnout risk has dramatically increased with the surge in workload created by the COVID-19 pandemic, pushing providers’ operations—and their physicians—to a breaking point.

When physicians are under excessive stress, it’s difficult to engage effectively with each patient and deliver the consistency and quality of care required. In worst-case scenarios, burnout can lead to instances of serious malpractice.

Of course, the pandemic hasn’t just stressed healthcare systems; it’s also been a catalyst for the rise of telehealth. Virtual visits simplify care access for physicians and patients, but far too often, physicians and other staff find they must provide technical support to patients, which adds unnecessary work and stress to their day.

Increasing patient control—and accountability

CMIOs also need to find ways to increase operational efficiency—and improve patient outcomes—by empowering and encouraging patients to take control of their own care journeys.

Appointment management, for example, can be a huge drain on resources. No-shows are a constant problem, and often, patients who do attend their appointments arrive without the necessary preparation, impacting their care and the provider’s revenue.

There’s also the challenge of ensuring patients comply with their preventative care or treatment plans, so they achieve the desired outcomes and don’t add to physicians’ workloads unnecessarily. So CMIOs must look for technologies to help physicians be more proactive about keeping patients informed and compliant without creating more work for their clinical teams and support staff.

Improving patient relationships

Every business in every sector only succeeds on the strength of its customer relationships and strengthening patient relationships is a critical focus for CMIOs.

In part, it’s about attracting and retaining more patients to grow revenue. But ultimately, it’s about improving patient engagement, care, and outcomes in the communities the provider serves.

How patient engagement solutions help

CMIOs face a complex web of challenges, but there are many patient engagement solutions that can help them achieve their goals.

Something as simple as automated appointment reminders can reduce no-shows. However, more sophisticated appointment management solutions enable patients to reschedule appointments in the same channel as the notification. That puts patients in control and reduces no-shows or allows newly available appointment slots to be filled, optimizing physicians’ schedules and protecting the provider’s revenue.

Providers can also use these proactive reminders to automatically send patients personalized, relevant information about upcoming imaging appointments or lab tests, increasing the likelihood of patients arriving for appointments fully prepared.

In fact, they can apply AI-powered, proactive patient engagement throughout the care journey by offering helpful communications about treatment plans, preventative care reminders, visit follow-up actions, and more. That helps increase patient accountability and compliance by empowering patients to take control and manage their care on their own terms.

Importantly, automated patient outreach solutions like these require minimal effort from physicians and care teams, freeing them to focus on providing high-quality care. And AI can help reduce unnecessary work for care teams in other ways.

For example, by implementing AI-powered interactive voice response (IVR) systems and virtual assistants in digital channels, providers give patients automated answers to common questions. Patients who need support setting up a telehealth appointment can get the guidance they need without any care team involvement—and physicians don’t have to spend clinic time providing technical support.    

Next time: enhancing the patient experience

By using automated outreach to proactively address the need for incoming questions, and AI-powered self-service to answer routine inquiries, providers can alleviate the burden on their staff and reduce burnout.

As we’ve seen, there’s more to automation than optimizing schedule utilization and protecting revenue; solutions like these are vital for giving patients more control and accountability, improving care outcomes, and assisting physicians in care management.

In our next article, we wrap up the series by looking at patient engagement from the perspective of the VP of Patient Experience. We’ll explore how patient engagement solutions can support people in this critical role to meet the growing demand from patients for the engagement experiences they get elsewhere as consumers.

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Justin Jacobson

About Justin Jacobson

Justin Jacobson is the Vice President and General Manager of Nuance’s Patient Engagement Solutions business. Justin joined Nuance in 2021 following 10 years at one of the largest healthcare organizations in the world. Prior to Nuance, Justin held multiple healthcare roles spanning business operations, innovation, product management, integration management, customer loyalty and marketing. Justin has a B.A. from Wheaton College (IL) as well as an M.B.A. from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.