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How to Engage Providers with Healthcare at Home

By the beginning of 2021, more than 70 percent of health systems in the U.S. implemented some type of care-at-home program. Most programs are now expanding, driven by a need for capacity as much as by the demands of a changing healthcare market. 

“Care-at-home programs resonate with consumers, and mass adoption is clearly underway,” says Adam Wolfberg, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Current Health. “However, many health systems have encountered challenges: not surprising, since the change involves both a shift in the practice of medicine as well as the delivery of clinical and nonclinical services.” 

Among the challenges of scaling care at home is educating and engaging the program’s referring providers to cement adoption. Tackling this challenge requires strategic attention to the goals, communication, and ownership at every phase of program development. 

The Most Common Barriers to Provider Engagement

The first barrier you must address is always a lack of awareness about the program’s goals, processes, and outcomes. But you may also face: 

  1. Resistance: “Can’t I just treat patients like I always have?”
  2. Hesitancy: “I want to lay eyes on the patient.”
  3. Fatigue: “I am too exhausted for another new initiative.”

The responses from your referring providers will depend on several factors, including the appetite for technology and innovative care models, as well as the leadership of the dedicated care-at-home team. 

Build Engagement as Your Build Your Program 

Building engagement with providers should occur as a part of each phase of program development, from planning the program to scaling adoption. 

In phase one, you’re planning and designing your care-at-home model. During this phase, you are defining the clinical use case and selecting technology and service partners. Phase two involves building the processes, workflows, and teams required to execute care at home. As you progress to phase three, your program is live, and your focus becomes refining processes and growing adoption. 

Employ the following strategies as you plan, build, and grow your at-home care delivery models.

Phase One: Planning the Program

The first phase of planning your care-at-home program brings the goal of raising awareness of the initiative. This phase is when you should identify your program champions and a project leader, followed closely by defining your referring provider audience. 

“Understand whose buy-in you need to make this successful,” advises Sarah Joyce, Chief Customer Officer for Current Health.We recommend partnering with your Internal Communications team and communicating with providers as early as possible.”

Before you reach out, get really clear about your program goals. Articulate the difference the program will make for patients, providers, and the organization, and be consistent in that messaging. 

But don’t be inflexible; encourage providers to develop their own reasons for participating in the care-at-home program. 

“Generating enthusiasm and ownership starts with imagination, so ask questions that get people thinking,” says Joyce. “Ask your providers what they could achieve with care at home—superior patient experiences and satisfaction? Improved quality metrics and reduced adverse events? Innovate their approach to care?” 

Phase Two: Building the Program

As you build your care-at-home program, engage providers in the many decisions and tasks required to launch. Key milestones during phase two include defining workflows and protocols as well as including providers in determining patient selection criteria.

“Start small, with one or two clinical use cases. After you finesse that, add from there. Assign ownership to your clinical champions—get them thinking about who would do well in a home care setting,” says Dr. Wolfberg.

Finally, identify internal and external partners, Determine the type of technology and services that will be included. Keep in mind, one of your internal partners should be your marketing and communications department, which can help you develop a strong and sustainable communication plan for both provider and patient audiences. 

Phase Three: Growing the Program 

After launching your care-at-home program, your objectives transition to ironing out the wrinkles and growing utilization. Improve engagement and adoption by answering the following questions, and communicating regularly about results: 

  1. What impact is the program having?
    • What stories are you hearing from patients and caregivers?
  2. How is the program tracking toward the goals? Include in your tracking these top metrics for measuring provider engagement:
  • Number of referrals
  • Number of admissions
  • Logged engagement with patients (calls, messages)
  • NPS scores

“Keep in mind, it’s not just about measuring how well you’re doing, but tracking challenges along the way and creating actionable plans to address them when they arise,” says Joyce.

When growing provider engagement, focus on the care model, not the technology. “The technology in your program is a tool for the care model,” says Dr. Wolfberg. “If providers are interested in the care model, they’ll use the tools.” 

Lastly, conduct daily huddles to discuss patient feedback and how the program is working. Share this information so providers and teams make a connection to the outcomes that patients are seeing.

Learn more about engaging key audiences with care at home
in our on-demand webinar.

November 08, 2021