Mass General Brigham to Invest $100 Million in Telehealth and Digital Tools.

The five-year project aims to support consumer-centered care and patient engagement technology use.

Project leaders will focus on making healthcare more convenient and accessible to patients through digital tools, such as giving patients the ability to book appointments online, communicate with care providers 24/7 via video and text, and providing online access to their medical records through OpenNotes.”

A new five-year strategic mission at Partners HealthCare aims to put the consumer at the center of care specifically by driving investments in key patient engagement and patient access technologies, according to a health system press release.

The digital initiative will focus on data, technology, and analytics that will support medical providers in the shift towards healthcare consumerism, all in an effort to bring healthcare to the patient, according to Gregg Meyer, MD, the chief clinical officer at Partners HealthCare.

“We need to make health care easier for our patients,” Meyer said in a statement “Our patients want health care to operate like every other sector of our economy, and this initiative will help us to engage patients and ensure that they are getting the attention they need, when they need it. By leveraging data and technology, we can ensure that wherever patients are in our system, they can benefit from the expertise of our clinicians and access world-class care.”

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Foremost, the project aims to integrate more patient-facing technologies that ease patient access to care and draw patients into a convenient, consumer-centered health system. The project includes online appointment scheduling implementation as well as adopting a system that will give patients access to wait time estimates in the emergency department.

The project also aims to improve patient data access through the OpenNotes program and better patient data exchange and interoperability between Partners and non-Partners data sources.

READ MORE: Does the Patient Engagement Technology Market Meet Consumer Needs?

Programs for improving price transparency will aim to improve the patient financial experience and support the health system as it embraces consumer-centered care principles.

And finally, tools to enable secure text, email, and phone calls as well as digital care options such as telehealth and other e-consults aim to improve patient access to care.

The health system will also focus on research and development for certain patient-facing programs, working to pinpoint strategies that are effective and workable for both the patient and the provider.

Specifically, Partners said it will focus on how technologies can enhance and increase touchpoints and communications between patients and providers, ultimately working to alleviate key treatment areas, including chronic disease management.

“As a health care system with two leading academic medical centers and the nation’s largest research enterprise, our clinicians and researchers are developing digital tools and care programs that are transforming medicine,” said Alistair Erskine, MD, chief digital health officer for Partners HealthCare. “This initiative will fuel early-stage projects, provide the resources to test those projects and then, more importantly, provide a structure to scale projects that allow us to expand access for patients across our health care system and beyond.”

READ MORE: Understanding the Future of Patient Engagement Technologies

This news comes on the heels of another major announcement from Partners HealthCare, unveiling a five-year strategic plan for rebranding the health system to Mass General Brigham.

“Our patients are at the center of all we do. The overall aim of our strategy and new name is to create the premier integrated health care system of the future, built on the strong reputations of our academic medical centers,” Anne Klibanski, MD, president and CEO of Partners HealthCare, said in a November 27 statement. “We will increasingly work as a single health care system that delivers excellence across the full spectrum of health care and is enabled by the strength of research, innovation, new technologies, our valued employees and work we do in communities – work that will impact health worldwide.”

Key pillars to the five-year innovation plan include addressing community health issues, focusing on value-based care delivery models, building on their previous innovations in medical devices and therapeutics, consolidating and expanding its national and international impact on healthcare, and engaging patients as the “go-to” place to access healthcare.

“As we build both our system strategy and our new identity, we will focus on how we leverage the full range of capabilities of our world-class clinicians and staff at our academic medical centers, renowned specialty hospitals, our community hospitals and our community sites,” Klibanski added. “Our goal is to have an even greater impact on our patients and the health of the communities we serve locally, nationally and globally.”

The rebrand to Mass General Brigham will come as a part of those efforts. The Partners HealthCare board approved of the name change on the eve of Thanksgiving, saying it more closely aligns with the health systems flagship care sites, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“The Partners HealthCare name has served our organization well for 25 years and has helped us to become the strong system that we are today, but we are moving forward to rebrand to better articulate what we offer patients and more closely reflect the vision for our system,” Klibanski concluded. “Introducing our new name and implementing our strategy will require careful planning and collaboration. Our next step is to actively engage in a thoughtful process for how we best invest our dollars, always keeping patients and clinical care our top priority.”

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