The digital health company is collaborating with Qualtrics to put more patient feedback in health records. Adrienne Boissy of Qualtrics talks with us about the partnership and the push for patient-centered care.
Epic and Qualtrics have formed a partnership designed to provide hospitals, health systems and doctors with more information about their patients.
The electronic health records giant is teaming with Qualtrics, which offers software solutions enabling organizations to get more feedback about the experience of consumers and employees. The companies announced the partnership this week.
With this partnership, providers using Epic’s health record system can gain other insights about patients’ experience, the companies say. For example, providers can find out if patients are frustrated because it took time to get an appointment or they’ve had problems with billing.
Adrienne Boissy, the chief medical officer of Qualtrics, tells Chief Healthcare Executive® that she has “unbridled enthusiasm” for the partnership, which should yield dividends for providers and patients.
“It really to me represents, I think, slow, but growing and consistent momentum, to put humanity back into how we care for people, to make sure that whole person care really means caring for the human beings who deliver it, and caring for the people who receive it,” Boissy says. (She talks about the partnership with Epic in this video. The story continues below.)
The partnership comes at a time as health systems, hospitals and practices are under increasing pressure to deliver a better experience for patients. In its fall 2023 grades for hospitals, The Leapfrog Group found hospitals and health systems have made strides in reducing infections but they slipped in patient experience for the second consecutive year.
Boissy says the collaboration with Epic could help move healthcare closer to providing “person-centered care.”
“In very simple language, I think about personalization, the idea that you know things about me, and you remember things about me that are important to me, when you engage me, in the electronic health record, and in clinical care,” Boissy says. “One of the biggest frustrations of patients is, ‘Every time I call you back, it’s like, I'm a brand new person.’”
Healthcare can take lessons from other industries, who recognize customers who have used their services for a long time. With more personalized information in the electronic health records, Boissy says providers can communicate to patients, “I know you've been coming for 26 years, and here's where you may be struggling.”
Providers can get nuggets of information about patients “surfaced in really thoughtful ways into the EHR, for the end user to appreciate who the human is on the other side,” she adds.
Moreover, as electronic health records get more insights in patients and their frustrations, hospitals can identify problems to address, Boissy says. Those additional insights can lead to system-wide improvements, she says.
“When we lift the voices of patients into an electronic health record, and surface insights or process improvements that could be driven into workflows or actioned upon by managers or frontline, this is important,” Boissy says. “Because currently, a lot of that data sits untapped and unknown and not responded to, not just at an individual level, but sometimes even at a macro level. So this automates that and scales it in a way we've never had before.”
Those insights could spur providers to help patients have an easier time getting care, she adds.
“The biggest pain points for patients are still access and billing, the bookends of care,” Boissy says. “And you can imagine not just personalization in those communications, but truly evolving to a place where we understand where the most friction is occurring at your digital intercepts, whether it's your digital front door or on your website, and feeding that into the EHR so that they can take action.”
Alan Hutchison, vice president at Epic, said the partnership with Qualtrics will help providers deliver a better experience.
"With deep experience across consumer industries, Qualtrics brings a broad perspective to healthcare," Hutchison said in a statement. "We create software that connects healthcare to improve outcomes, and Qualtrics provides insights that improve the patient experience. Together, our collaboration will help members of the Epic community exceed patients' evolving expectations."
Boissy, a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic, says she can understand the frustration of patients who feel like providers don’t understand their problems. But she also says systems may want to think carefully about how they use and share that patient feedback, so clinicians don’t feel unduly burdened.
“We have to be really thoughtful about how that information gets surfaced and to whom … so that we're not inadvertently hurting people, but we're putting information in a timely fashion in the hands of people who are most adept at responding to it, in the moment,” Boissy says.
Providers could use the feedback from patients to give doctors or nurses a boost at a time when many clinicians are dealing with stress or burnout. Patient’s health records could include words of praise from a patient for a doctor or nurse, she says.
“Think about a clinician opening up their EHR for the first time at the beginning of the day, and confetti is raining down upon their screen, saying, ‘Yesterday, patients said something amazing about how you interacted with them or how you care,’” Boissy says. “That type of immediacy helps clinicians keep going one more day, one more hour, one more step.”
Craig Richardville, chief digital and information officer at Intermountain Health, said in a statement that the Epic and Qualtrics collaboration will “drive more holistic, patient-centric care at scale.”
"For an enriched patient experience and improved outcomes, healthcare providers must be empowered to understand and act on the entire patient experience, and this collaboration makes that possible,* Richardville said.