Patient engagement is the most demanding process in healthcare but its importance in improving healthcare outcome and care quality cannot be overemphasized. The value of patient engagement is now been realized by all stakeholders who would like to improve it though not easy.
Patient engagement is the process of involving patients in their own care regime. An individual patient’s outcome holds the efforts of the patient, physician, care coordinator, provider and patient’s family members. The logic is to improve one’s wellness he/she need to show some interest.
Healthcare IT can help in designing technology which will boost user experiences and aims to better the engagement activity by strengthening the communication between doctors and patients. But not every providers’ needs are the same, so the healthcare professionals should analyze their needs and implement a solution which will best suit their requirements and that of their patients (for example a visually impaired patient will not be able to use a visual app).
Technology has a huge impact on engagement rate and this could lead to positive improvement of overall health outcome.
Role of Technology in Patient Engagement
Medical providers understand that only when people care there will be an engagement. The way people are connected to the internet is an example, patients today can be reached and engaged just like how they are engaged with social media.
1 out of 20 searches in Google is for health-related searches and 80 percent of users seek online health information. So people want to have the similar experience with hospitals. Since the introduction of the patient portal, the use of health data have seen significant growth and many stay connected.
Recent trends in technology focus mainly on managing health data, secure communication, educating patients and self-care. An innovative way to access personal health records from wearable tech to patient portals is an attempt to improve health outcome.
A few weeks before, the National Coordinator for Health IT launched two new online tools
1. A consumer-facing video to educate patients and tell them their rights to access health record, and
2. A provider-facing “Patient Engagement Playbook” which illustrates the steps to engage patients.
Benefits of Technology
1. Appointment Scheduling/ Reminder/Notification
No more waiting in a queue for making an appointment. With the use of patient portal and apps, patients can book the appointment online. Any changes in the appointment can also be made easily.
Patients get reminders for scheduled appointments and notification for prescription refills either via text, email or voice. Meaningful Use 2(MU2) mandates more than 5% of patients to communicate through secure electronic messages with their providers.
2. Enabling E-consultation/E-visits through Telehealth Feature
Telehealth service helps physicians to communicate with patients any time to know about their health condition. Readmission rate can be curbed with the use of such technology.
While meeting a doctor, patients may not communicate their problems effectively and some tend to forget what they want to convey. With Telehealth feature doctor-patient communication becomes easier.
3. Access to Family Members
Portals allow family members to stay engaged with relatives health. Patients and their families can now access EHRs and can send messages especially to patients with chronic illness.
4. Visible Medical Charge Details
Providers encourage consumers to have control over their payments. The details of bills, including lab charges along with clinical data, will be available in the patient portal.
Giving patients clear insight into their medical charges may have the potential to engage them.
5. A Good Workplace
Clinicians also play an important role in engaging patients. A positive workplace makes caregivers happy which results in good care delivery. Only when employees are engaged they make patients engage. So hospitals should provide a good atmosphere for the better outcome.
If you take a moment to reflect on the other side of the coin, the disadvantages new tech might cause are a few. Right from generating junk information to the security concern of adding more patient information into the internet, from overworked doctors to unforeseen technological changes. These are all real concerns but healthcare IT like any other is a tool and the usage depends on the users, the providers, and the patients.
But with all the increased cost of healthcare and the poor performance of population health parameters, the unceasing demand for modernization of healthcare sector from all sides, we can be optimistic that an industry which is yearning for such a technology will make best of it.