HIE Patient Engagement Case Study: Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum

The Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum is a not-for-profit, private, neutral organization tasked with planning, promoting, and conducting quality improvement initiatives in Louisiana. One of those initiatives is the Louisiana Health Information Exchange (LaHIE), which went live in 2011. The LaHIE currently has more than 300 participants and more than 4.3 million unique patient records.

For this case study, Jamie Martin, the Marketing and Communications Manager, responded to questions about the approach to patient engagement used by the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum and the results of those efforts.

 

We are in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to lead a statewide campaign focused on educating Louisiana residents about the availability of health IT tools such as patient portals, electronic health records, the statewide health information exchange and how to use those tools to make better and more informed decisions about their health and healthcare. This campaign launched in August 2015 and includes a unique, integrated strategy that incorporates a mix of traditional and new communications techniques.

As an opt-in state, the campaign messaging does include a key focus on educating Louisiana’s patients and families about the value of the statewide HIE, the LaHIE, and how it can help to improve the quality, efficiency, and coordination of their care. In addition, the messaging heavily promotes the importance of having copies of one’s own personal health information, whether those copies are electronic or paper based, and how patient portals can provide 24/7 secure access to that information.

Prior to launching the campaign, we conducted a statewide, web-based survey to identify the existing health IT awareness levels in Louisiana. What we learned was that across all age groups, there was a strong awareness of tools like electronic health records (EHRs) and patient portals, but the awareness level about HIE was much lower. The survey data was used to help develop a campaign that included the specific information about the benefits of opting in to Louisiana’s HIE.

In terms of engaging different generations, we have found that the delivery method used for the messaging is key. Statistically, for example, younger generations are very active on social media, so we have a strong presence across those platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We also know that in Louisiana, as a predominantly rural state, residents of all ages have a high dependency on smartphones for internet access. Because of this, we incorporated a great deal of the digital messaging in the campaign, and we make sure our messaging, including our website, is delivered in mobile-friendly formats. In addition, market research shows that both men and women above the age of 45 are increasingly using mobile devices to access print content, so we focused more on the digital delivery of messaging. Ultimately, our campaign is carefully constructed to ensure that the messaging reaches residents of all ages.

The Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum was established in 2007 by the state legislature. It is a neutral, not-for-profit organization that promotes collaboration across all stakeholders – providers, purchasers, payers, and consumers – to drive health IT advancements in Louisiana. We are fortunate to have a strong working relationship across stakeholder groups and with DHH and its many offices. Because our state has taken a very proactive stance on health IT development, we are grateful to have many partners in our efforts to further patient engagement in the use of health IT.

In the pre-campaign survey, 57 percent of respondents indicated that knowing more about the security measures in place to protect their health information would make them more likely to electronically access their information. When we broke that down by age group, we learned that ages 45-64 considered privacy and security a greater factor than other age groups with the younger age groups indicating that they would be more likely to access their information electronically if encouraged to do so by their healthcare provider.

In our campaign messaging, we focus on encouraging patients to use a patient portal, whether it be their doctor’s portal or the portal available through LaHIE. What we know is that generally speaking patients want user-friendly portals, and they want those portals to contain information that has value to them.

Speaking more specifically about the patient portal through LaHIE, because it is still very new to the market we have not received any specific feedback from patients at this time, though we do look forward to receiving that feedback so that we can continue to ensure the portal has long-term value for patients.

The data available through the LaHIE portal follows a standard, consistent format regardless of the data source. Patients do have the option of receiving notifications when new data becomes available, and they can use the portal to access additional information sources that have been recommended by their providers for things like chronic conditions. In addition, they can upload information to provide feedback to their providers, which enhances provider-patient communication.

Through the LaHIE portal patients can see their data and continuity of care documents (CCDs) and have the ability to communicate with their providers via DIRECT secure messaging. They can request prescription refills and share patient-generated information as well as upload information for their providers.

While the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum does provide general patient portal education through its consumer-facing campaign as well as its own channels within the organization, the majority of the responsibility for patient education for LaHIE’s portal falls to the providers who are enrolled in that service. The Quality Forum does provide resources and materials to assist providers in educating patients.

 

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