There is no doubt that technology is making it easier for physicians to provide better services to their patients and improve practice efficiency. Doctors have tools at their disposal that were unheard of years ago, and robots are now being used to provide surgical and rehabilitation assistance. But what do patients want? How can technology be used to improve the interaction you have with your patients?
More than 70 percent of physicians who participated in a 2017 Patient Engagement Perspectives Survey, from technology solutions provider CDW, confirmed that patient engagement is a top priority, up from 60 percent the previous year. Given our current value-based health care environment, patients expect to have interactive communications that help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
According to the CDW survey, patients feel comfortable communicating with their providers via remote technologies, such as online portals (98 percent), mobile applications (83 percent), text messages (77 percent) and even video chat (69 percent). In combination, these technologies have not only added value to the patient experience but also improved compliance in managing one’s healthcare, resulting in better overall health.
Let’s consider a few ways patients are increasingly accessing information and engaging with their providers.
- Easier Access to Online Information
Most practices store patient information using electronic health record (EHR) systems. Although 82 percent of patients in a survey by the American Health Information Management Association said they had logged onto their provider’s portal at least once in the past year, 89 percent said they would like easier access to their information. Not all portals are user-friendly, especially for older, possibly unwilling populations of consumers. If patients can’t log in and immediately access the records, prescription information or appointment schedule they need, it is unlikely that they will remain engaged with their care. If you want to improve engagement with your patients, the streamlining of online information must become a top priority.
- Connect Wearable Data to Health Records
A growing number of individuals collect information about their health on their mobile phones or devices. Wearable devices like Fitbits or Apple watches give patients optimal health goals to follow, making suggestions and giving consumers useful insight into their own fitness and well-being. This is advantageous for health care providers, who can tap into this information to receive patient-generated data in real time. In CDW’s study, 64 percent of patients said they would willingly submit real-time data to their physician to improve their health.
- Make Biometric Measurement Devices Available
A survey by NEJM Catalyst of 595 health care providers cited biometric measurement devices as the most effective tool for improving patient engagement. Doctors use biometric applications for monitoring patients and collecting personal medical data, which can then be used for research, developing care plans and making diagnoses. Specifically, devices like glucometers and wireless scales make it easier for patients and physicians to manage chronic diseases, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. The information received from biometric devices enables physicians to intervene if there is a major concern. At the same time, the devices heighten accountability and self-awareness in patients by offering instant or “live” data.
As technology continues to become available, providers should consider how to adjust patient engagement strategies to keep pace with consumer expectations. Patients want to take ownership of their own care. Tools like biometric measurement devices, online portals and mobile reporting tailor engagement efforts to the individual, empowering each person to be in control of their health management.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.