Effective ways to keep patients engaged outside the medical office
As healthcare industry technology continues to evolve, providers are discovering new strategies to increase patient engagement using Health IT and mHealth. By taking advantage of telehealth technologies, mHealth apps, and patient portal technology, providers can keep their patients fully engaged while staying current on the technology boom.
The Reach of Telehealth
One primary benefit of telehealth is enabling providers to reach otherwise-unreachable patients. When a city-based physician can offer a full office visit to a patient in a remote, rural location, she enables him to be more involved in his care. Telehealth is all about meeting patients where it is easiest for them. The task for the healthcare system is really to think about what barriers exist for patients to get the type of care they need and how to remove those barriers. Removing these barriers is a key factor to improving patient engagement. It is beneficial to simplify access to that type of care so patients can reach providers the moment they’re needed.
Telehealth technology also has the capacity to engage patients at any time. This adds to the convenience factor because patients can schedule appointments around their work or family commitments without having to adhere to the schedule of a doctor’s office.
Engage the patient with mHealth apps
mHealth apps are beneficial in keeping patients engaged outside of the point of care via health tracking tools. These apps can be used for more purposes than just engaging the patient remotely in follow-up care by helping them maintain their overall wellness.
Fitness apps are very popular and help patients stay engaged in their overall physical wellness. By utilizing user-friendly platforms and offering capabilities right on a patient’s smartphone, these apps are permeating patient life.
However, providers need to be selective about which mHealth apps they suggest to their patients, as not all apps are created equal.
To be effective, an app needs to be able to educate, remind or alert users, record and track health information, display and summarize health information, provide guidance based on user activity, enable communication with providers and family members, provide support through social networks, and support behavior change with rewards. By researching products with these parameters, providers can find useful mHealth apps that can make a difference in aiding and engaging their patients.
Although patients may be eager to adopt mHealth, providers have mixed reviews of mHealth technology.
Steve Willey, MD, created the YouPlus Health app to help doctors reach different patient types outside of the office. In an interview with mHealthIntelligence.com, Willey explained that mHealth apps have the power to reach patients and coach them through their health needs. “Getting people to understand they need to make changes in their lifestyle (to live healthier lives) is the easy part,” he says. “The hardest part is getting them to actually do it. Obviously, what we’re doing now isn’t working.”
Other providers have more reservations, stating that mHealth has not yet undergone enough testing. According to a Quantia survey, only one in five physicians suggest mHealth apps as a part of treatment because they are not certain of their effects.
Health data access is one of the biggest key terms in the patient engagement discussion, with several professionals saying it’s important for patients to understand their health in order for them to engage in it.
In a recent patient engagement toolkit published by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), experts explained that health data access is a patient’s first step in becoming engaged.
“Access to personal health information is crucial for patients to transition from a passive recipient to a driver in the new patient-centric healthcare delivery paradigm,” according to the toolkit. “The ability to access both personal healthcare information and educational research on medical conditions is a key driver of self-activation.”
Patient health data access can be accomplished using mHealth tools, particularly through digital patient portals that are mobile-compatible, as well as personal health records which allow patients to aggregate and interpret their own health data.
Many healthcare providers are adapting to mHealth and patient portals. Going forward, providers will need to encourage their patients to register for the portals by demonstrating the immediate benefits the technology offers. Providers can further improve patient engagement by making this point regarding all patient engagement technologies. Anexinet has deep expertise helping healthcare providers develop digital solutions to increase patient engagement. Our Digital Healthcare Kickstart helps your organization deliver a modern, connected ecosystem of multi-channel services and experiences for physicians, employees, and patients. All in just three weeks.