Opening the digital front door - Summit Health is rewriting the rules of digital patient engagement

By Caroline Watson | March 30, 2023

athenahealth stethoscope connecting doctors to patients by mobile set in blue skies

In a world where 60% of patients expect to be able to manage appointments, view test results, and renew medications online, meeting patients where they are requires technology. Across the athenahealth network, healthcare organizations are finding new ways to enhance the patient experience through digital channels, contributing to organizational efficiency, financial performance, and growth in the process.

Here is one of them:  

At Summit Health, a leading provider of primary, specialty, and urgent care, delivering a differentiated patient experience is a guiding principle. Most patients opt into Summit’s digital options, such as a proprietary patient app where patients can schedule appointments, pay bills, and view lab results, or a streamlined check-in experience via kiosks at Summit’s urgent care centers. “This all requires a lot of technology, and the core of everything is athena,” said Abu Bakar, chief information and digital officer at Summit Health.

Improving the digital patient experience is a victory for patients and healthcare organizations alike. athenahealth created the Digital Patient Engagement Index (DPEI) to help organizations measure how digitally activated their patients are. The DPEI assesses patient engagement across healthcare finances (whether patients receive electronic statements and make digital payments), health information (whether patients check-in digitally or view labs on the portal), and access to care (whether patients schedule, confirm, and cancel their own appointments online).

“Summit is in the top 10% of multi-specialty organizations on our Digital Patient Engagement Index, and frankly, I didn’t have to run the numbers to know that,” said Paul Brient, chief product officer at athenahealth. “We’ve been working very closely with Summit, and we’ve been really impressed by the technology they’re building for their patients.”

Summit sees the return on their investment in the patient experience in high NPS scores, but Bakar said the metric he’s most interested in is patient loyalty. “To me, the big question is, are we seeing the same patients again and again and again? We’ve been tracking the numbers for years, and urgent care patients come in 1.4 times per year, consistently. The stickiness of patients has remained the same.”

With strong patient loyalty, Summit Health has seen remarkable organizational growth over the past decade, and the SaaS-based nature of athenaOne gives Summit the confidence to scale. “With athena, we don’t have to worry as we grow the business and focus on taking care of our patients,” said Bakar.

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