Case Study: WELL Health Communications
Improving Communications Through Mobile — on the Patient’s Terms
Houston Methodist Center for Innovation heard growing complaints about communication between the health system and patients. Whether coming from patients, physicians or board members, the dissatisfaction took many forms: too many reminders, not enough reminders at the right time, unclear reminders, etc. The Center for Innovation sought to help the primary and specialty care operations teams improve their patient satisfaction around communication.
The Center for Innovation sought to meet patients where they live: on mobile. This led them to WELL, a HIPAA-compliant communication platform that interfaces with EPIC and honors a patient’s preference for communication. WELL assists in centralizing communication with patients and has the ability to facilitate key processes in the patient’s journey, such as activating a MyChart account, starting the check-in process early via EPIC echeck-in, and downloading the MyMethodist app.
One of the benefits of WELL is that patients can set their preferences to communicate in the way that works best for them. Houston Methodist serves a wide patient population, so allowing each patient to define his or her desired mode of contact helps decrease irritation and increase satisfaction. The team looked at examples outside of health care where patients were already using their phones to schedule and manage their lives with less friction.
The central operations team set standardized guidelines for communications that included a basic set of rules on how we are going to send out reminders and other communications. Setting the rules for a systemwide standard ensures consistency and allows the team to better monitor performance across the system.
The team rolled out WELL pilots in primary care, orthopedics and cardiology to test enhanced functionality, which not only sends reminders to patients, but also allows members of the team to two-way communicate with patients via text.
Patients can sign up for patient communications and set their preferences in MyChart.
Success will be measured by patient satisfaction, and through metrics tied to specific appointment communications and associated outcomes. For example, will appointment reminders help reduce the number of missed appointments?
The next step will be to expand functionality to have WELL drive automation for patient follow-up appointment recalls and referral scheduling coordination. In addition, the team is also exploring how automated intelligence can be integrated with two-way interactions and consumer preferences to further streamline the patient experience and remove the administrative burden on staff.