Despite the recent strides in the health sector, effectively engaging the patients still remains a challenge for healthcare providers.
According to the Healthcare Technology Trends, tech has the potential to act as a great enabler and boost patient participation and engagement in the matters of their own health.
Changing the Clinical Paradigm via Patient Engagement
Patient engagement is a broad term that encompasses patient activation along with interventions designed for promoting positive patient behavior.
An activated and engaged patient is one who has the knowledge, skills, ability, and willingness to manage his own healthcare and take ownership and responsibility for the same.
Patient engagement has a two-fold benefit for the healthcare industry. It results in a proactive patient who is more compliant with the ongoing treatment and preventive measures being undertaken.
It also results in improved health outcomes for the healthcare providers giving out the treatment and an overall healthy population.
How to Successfully Leverage Technology for Patient Engagement
Patient engagement is actively moving away from the traditional reactive approach that involves little coordination among the different stakeholders to a more proactive approach.
There is accessibility to a plethora of tech tools aimed at bolstering engagement for both the providers as well as patients.
Here is what needs to be done to successfully leverage technology solutions to boost patient engagement.
1. Have A Mobile Technology Patient Engagement Strategy
Patients today have already hopped on to the tech bandwagon. Healthcare practices need to ensure that the mobile app they develop allows for a simplified and seamless delivery of pertinent information and is centered around patient engagement and not the practice itself.
There has been a lot of progress in this direction already. The Swedish cancer institute in Seattle have developed an app that helps cancer patients keep a record of their treatments accessible immediately when need arises.
The TMF hospitals and clinics in Texas were reportedly able to provide up-to-date information to both internal as well as external stakeholders and received an overall positive response to their mobile application.
A custom-developed app can incorporate all the features that you need to boost patient engagement. The push notifications from an app can serve as timely reminders to patients on an individual level.
Notifications can be sent out to remind patients to receive preventive care, adhere to the medication schedule or stick to healthy habits. Video is yet another feature that you can leverage to boost patient engagement,
Hiring a custom medical software company like Arkenea to design and develop custom healthcare applications is the way to go for ensuring patient engagement. Applications can lead you to customize the engagement program for patients on an individual level.
With the incorporation of cutting edge technologies like machine learning and natural language processing in mobile apps, the possibilities of personalization of patient engagement are limitless.
2. Encourage Patient Participation Via Technology
Traditionally, the flow of healthcare information has always been unilateral with the healthcare providers being the major stakeholders and decision-makers.
The scenario is now shifting with an increase in the number of patients who are looking forward to participating actively in taking health-related decisions.
More and more healthcare providers are giving patients access to their health information through EHRs and patient portals. This automatically makes them the stakeholders of their own health and empowers them to take data-backed healthcare decisions.
Involving the patients in all aspects of healthcare, not just the treatment part is an important aspect of engagement. Technology can be effectively leveraged as a tool to give out vital information that can increase the patient engagement.
UCHealth has successfully achieved the same by making use of virtual reality to create immersive patient experiences. 92 percent of the patients reported their experience as positive to extremely positive and 88 percent of the patients said they would make use of VR again.
Technology such as augmented and virtual reality are just starting to show their promise in the field of healthcare.
When used effectively, they show definitive promise to boost the levels of patient engagement and increase transparency between the patient and healthcare provider, thus resulting in an effective practice management.
An AR/VR powered app as a part of patient education strategy boosts the patient participation significantly.
3. Cloud Computing To Make Collaboration Possible
Collaboration makes patient engagement easy. Moving healthcare data to the cloud not only improves collaboration, it also promotes accessibility resulting in patient engagement.
With cloud computing in healthcare, clinicians and healthcare providers can work in collaboration with one another leading to improved health outcomes for the patients.
Developing a longitudinal plan of care ensures that the clinicians and care managers no longer work in isolation but rather work together to offer streamlined care to the patients.
With all relevant data available in a single location, a care continuum is formed where all the stakeholders can make plans, track progress and ensure consistent care for the patients resulting in higher engagement and improved health outcomes.
The sharing of data isn’t just limited to the healthcare providers. Collaboration with health insurance companies can result in a seamless payout making availing healthcare facilities a hassle-free experience for the patients.
The patient can also access their own EMRs resulting in a rise in ownership of health which directly leads to improved engagement and compliance to the healthcare regimen prescribed.
Use of technology can successfully increase doctor engagement as well. The custom developed enterprise sales application “iSelling” developed by Arkenea for the Fortune 500 company, Novo Nordisk helped them increase their prescription rates by 35 percent and experienced a 3X rise in doctor engagement rates.
4. Leverage Data And Derive Insights From Patient Feedback
The inflow of healthcare data, both structured and unstructured, has increased tremendously in recent times.
Apart from the conventional sources of data such as the EMRs and EHRs, IoMT devices such as fitness wearables and other healthcare devices are adding to the pool of data being constantly generated on an everyday basis.
Healthcare data is only as good as the insights it helps generate and reliable data is a vital ingredient for effective patient engagement. It drives efficiencies by allowing incorporation of automation.
The healthcare providers can utilize data-derived insights to identify patients who are on the high-risk spectrum. They can pick out the cases in need of follow-up care or preventive prophylaxis.
Healthcare organizations need to collect and collate patient feedback in order to derive actionable insights and work towards patient engagement.
Hackensack UMC Palisades made use of technology to convert the feedback in the form of structured and unstructured data and built a user-friendly, web-based dashboard that provided the practitioners with actionable insights.
Through data analysis, the team was able to take the patient’s narrative into account and make measurable improvements to the existing healthcare delivery process.
5. Innovative solutions for post-treatment care
Patient engagement is not limited to the time the patient is directly interacting with the clinicians and healthcare providers. It also needs to include the self-care phase. Technology has a vital role to play in engaging patients in the post-treatment care.
Innovative patient engagement solutions are beneficial to both the patients as well as the providers. They amp up the level of patient satisfaction and engagement in their care plans, thus improving the overall outcomes.
From the organizational perspective, the implementation of such software improves the clinical efficiency, optimizes care, enhances interoperability and improves the revenue generation.
Medication adherence apps can be used to send out reminders via push notifications to ensure that the patients follow the prescribed regimen regularly.
Automated scheduling of patient’s follow-up visits is a good fit for introducing technology for streamlining post treatment care.
University of Alabama Birmingham Medicine (UAB) used automation in appointment scheduling and witnessed an increase in the scheduling rates.
Drug refill notifications and medication nudges are ideal candidates to be implemented in post-treatment care.
Remote patient monitoring platforms that encapsulate such features can help provide the necessary interactions via telehealth when the need arises.
When used in conjugation with technologies like smart wearables and internet of medical things (IoMT), these patient engagement solutions can be used to remotely monitor positive behavioral changes in patients and send out personalized messages to encourage the same.
The technology can also be leveraged to catch any irregularities and recommend the necessary corrective actions resulting in higher levels of patient engagement throughout their healthcare regimen.
No two cases are the same and so a one-size-fits-all approach to patient engagement is not going to yield results.
Deriving insights from quality data, an automated system can be put in place in order to engage with the patient in the manner that works best and the physician can intervene when his expertise is required. Data drives evidence-based decision making, resulting in workflow improvement and enhanced patient outcomes.