Patient Engagement Technology: Breaking through the Healthcare Landscape

Patient Engagement Technology: Breaking through the Healthcare Landscape


Looking at Salesforce Health Cloud, a patient relationship management solution

Current electronic health records vendors and other healthcare technology systems are lagging behind in terms of building relationships with their “customer,” the physicians using their products and the patients who they treat, including the ability to use these technologies for patient engagement. A common goal among healthcare technologies is the improvement of the patient experience. But there has yet to be a patient engagement technology that has truly broken through the healthcare landscape to make that change.

Salesforce, the company behind the world’s top customer relationship management (CRM) solution, provides cloud-based marketing, sales, and service applications across all industries. It’s one of the most successful platforms in the IT industry, with a vast network of developers and partners delivering applications built on the application ecosystem of its core CRM offering.

Salesforce officially entered the HIT market with Salesforce Health Cloud, a cloud-based patient relationship management (PRM) solution centered around a complete view of the patient with integrated data from electronic medical records (EMRs), wearables and more. The offering consists of a longitudinal patient record with software to support care coordination, care team and patient communications. Bottom line, Salesforce now sells provider and patient portals, a sector with countless competing solutions. [From Chilmark Research]

Simply put by Med City News: “Salesforce seeks to capitalize on the migration to accountable care and greater focus on population health. The combination of greater prevalence of outcomes-based reimbursement and growing consumer demand to manage their health – particularly from tech-savvy millennials – drove the decision to go all-in when it comes to healthcare”

Salesforce promotes Health Cloud as a means to obtain and manage patient data from multiple sources. They’ve also positioned the application as a communications platform for patient engagement and care coordination, as well as a dashboard for outcomes management and population health. The product is part of the company’s push to change how doctors and healthcare providers effectively manage the health of patients across caregiver networks.

As it was pointed out in healthIT and mhealth’s recent article on the matter, “Salesforce won’t compete with established transactional systems, but rather be a front end, as it’s not interested in being an electronic medical record provider like EPIC.”

Further iterated by Dr. Joshua Newman, CMO and General Manager at Salesforce in a Med City News article: Health Cloud is about “patient relationships, not records.”

As Mr. H from HIStalk noted, there’s certainly some things that they got right with platform:

  • It lets health systems that are willing to change their relationships with patients and doctors to do so effectively, with strong analytics and communications.
  • It’s cloud-based and is purchased on a relatively inexpensive per-user, per-month price with no capital outlay.
  • It’s built on the standard Salesforce CRM that has been battle-tested for years, with just those customizations needed to make it work for healthcare
  • It integrates with the EHR and other patient and provider data sources.
  • The Salesforce open ecosystem allows using third-party apps when needed.
  • It Includes tools that allow users to build their own rules and apps.

But is it enough to break through the current healthcare landscape?

While some have their doubts: “But despite its well-deserved reputation as an enterprise software innovator, can it make an impact in the convoluted healthcare sector where numerous megalithic software vendors before it (e.g., Google, Microsoft, Oracle, GE, etc.) have flailed? We have our doubts.”

Others argue: “Salesforce isn’t Oracle or Microsoft – they didn’t create a healthcare-specific product from scratch or acquire a questionable one, so they have no incentive to rebalance their product portfolio and walk away from healthcare and leave users hanging as big healthcare toe-dippers tend to do.”

Maybe with some help? “Salesforce represents a great candidate to partner instead of going at the crowded patient relationship management and patient engagement space alone.”

“Salesforce represents a good horse to attach your cart to. We’ve witnessed a plethora of companies go at patient engagement with their own custom solution. This approach lacks scale, established technology, and is crowded with competition. Not to mention, the path to monetization and profit is muddy at best. Further, Salesforce has built a rich ecosystem of extensibility via its app marketplace. Some could argue that this is exactly what healthcare needs.”

But ultimately, I think we all desire a similar outcome: “With hope, Salesforce Health Cloud can bridge the gap and provide a place where various health care providers can interact, including case managers, doctors, nurses, caregivers, and insurance coordinators.” We all know it’s a massive task.

If you’re curious about other innovations going on in the industry, check out our CHIME CIO Interview Series, or contact us below to learn about our own suite of healthcare IT solutions:

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