The pMD Blog

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pMD Blog...

where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

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Unlocking Patient Access to Specialty Care




Conventional wisdom in health care typically points to increasing access to primary care as one of the biggest drivers when it comes to lowering health care spend and improving patient quality of life. It makes intuitive sense: patients with fewer barriers between them and a Primary Care Physician (PCP) probably stay healthier. However, a recent study is challenging that assumption. Researchers found that, when comparing patients in rural settings to those in urban neighborhoods, rural patients had poorer health outcomes. Again, this might make sense when one considers the likely fewer number of primary care providers in small towns, but the underlying cause the study found was surprising. Researchers discovered that access to a specialist accounted for 55% of the difference in preventable hospitalizations.  Proximity to a PCP didn’t affect the numbers.

Kenton Johnston, lead author of the study told Modern Healthcare:  "CMS and other health policymakers are misguided if they think that expanding access to primary-care providers alone will eliminate disparities in health outcomes for chronically ill rural Americans. The specialized skills and expertise brought by specialists for treating particular chronic conditions are necessary."

This likely comes as a surprise to many readers, but at pMD we’ve had a front-row seat to the essential role that specialists play in patient care since our company was started (our very first customer was a Cardiologist!).  We’re continuing to add new ways for those practices to give their patients access to the care they need, even when those individuals might be geographically located far from the practice.

As an example, our recent release of Patient Chat Routers functionality allows practices to open up new lines of text-based communication for their patients who are enrolled in pMD® Secure Messaging™.  Based on the patient’s request, the message will then be routed to a designated group or individual in the practice. This feature gives practices a seamless and efficient way to connect with their patients about appointment scheduling, test results, and health-related questions.

In 2020, we’ll leverage that foundation and continue to build additional innovative tools for our customers to utilize in order to facilitate frictionless access to care. Soon, Patient Chat Routers will be able to dynamically route messages based on a practice’s call schedule, and we hope to also expand beyond text routing into phone calls as well - something practices often have to rely on via answering services today. Our goal is to break down the barriers that prevent patients from getting the care they need!


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.


PATIENT COMMUNICATION TOOLS FOR BETTER PATIENT CARE


These days, being a patient comes with a slew of responsibilities: staying on top of your medical history, knowing which medications to take and when, calling in to make an appointment and actually remembering said appointment, following post-op or post-discharge instructions, and the list goes on.

Even with the help of supportive medical staff and a patient portal, patients still struggle to navigate through what is often a confusing health care environment. Why is that?

Patient Portals Can Slow Communication


Sometimes patient portals can introduce barriers that often slow the communication process. For instance, a majority aren’t mobile, forcing patients and doctors to log in from a computer. Then, once a message is sent, there’s usually a delay in response because let’s be honest, what medical professional is at their computer 24/7 to receive and subsequently reply to messages?

Advanced Mobile Patient Communication Tools Supplement Portal


Of course, we here at pMD understand the need for patient portals and the robust information they house. With pMD’s updates to its secure messaging platform, we give care teams more advanced messaging functionality that supports a variety of patient communication scenarios while supplementing your practice’s patient portal. These communication tools also empower patients to overcome barriers that prevent them from being involved in their own health care.

Patients can reach out to their practice on their mobile device via pMD® Secure Messaging™, saving them from several failed login attempts in the portal or being forced to listen to smooth jazz on loop while on hold. Let’s say a patient is experiencing headaches and insomnia that may be related to their newly prescribed medication. The patient sends a message to the practice in pMD, the message gets routed to the Medical Assistant (MA), who then promptly discusses with the doctor. The MA responds back immediately in a group message that includes the doctor and the patient letting the patient know they can stop taking the medication. After the patient says thanks and bye, the MA is able to then end the conversation and close the message thread. The patient can still reach back out in the future by starting the process again. This feature gives practices and patients a seamless and efficient way to connect about important and time-sensitive matters such as appointment scheduling, test results, and urgent health-related questions without the hold music or delayed emails.

Group Chat Connects Care Team & Patient in Unified Message Thread


With the ability to send group chats, multiple users in a practice are able to communicate with a patient in a single, secure conversation. Everyone involved in the patient’s care, such as schedulers, nurses, and specialists, including the patient, can connect on one unified message thread for complete transparency. 

Compliant, Real-Time Face-To-Face Video Calling & In-App Voice Calls


In addition to messaging, providers can also securely communicate with patients and colleagues through face-to-face video calling or in-app voice calling. By giving users a mobile option for video calling and also a way to call through the app, health care professionals are able to foster real-time communication with patients, keeping their care coordinated and compliant. 

Physician Says Using pMD Secure Messaging App a "Great Decision"


“We started using pMD® Secure Messaging™ because we needed a HIPAA-compliant way to communicate with our patients,” said Dr. Stacey Marquee. “It’s been a great decision so far! We’re able to message with our patients about clinical information, medications, appointment cancellations, and for general check-in. Adoption across our staff and patients is high because the app is simple to download and very easy to use.”

Let’s face it; life happens. Patients are real people who try to balance busy work schedules and their personal lives while figuring out the health care landscape all at once. With pMD’s communication tools, patients have a convenient way of engaging with their care teams and reducing miscommunication and confusion. For practices, being able to fast-track communication with their patients saves support staff more time and reduces phone volume by 12%.

Patients Prefer Practices using pMD App, a “Real Anxiety Reducer”


“Using the pMD app was a real anxiety reducer,” says one patient. “If you have a question and something’s not right, you can get an answer through the pMD app. It’s immediate. You feel closer to the doctor and staff. It’s more personal. I would prefer practices that use this type of technology!”

Improving patient engagement and continuity of care is the first step in promoting positive patient outcomes. Better communication tools mean patients are more involved in their care, making them happier and, more importantly, healthier.


To find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our charge capture and MIPS registrysecure messagingclinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.