As patients seek to exert greater control over their healthcare journeys, healthcare providers are seeing a larger shift to technology. Automated tools have made other aspects of their lives more convenient and patients want to use these types of solutions to improve their healthcare experiences.
Consumers have become increasingly dependent on mobile devices to make travel reservations, order food, bank and video chat. Their expectations for interacting with healthcare providers also have increased dramatically. They look for convenience and simplicity from providers for scheduling appointments, refilling prescriptions, communicating with physicians and other medical staff and for completing paperwork before appointments.
Healthcare organizations that recognize the shift in embracing technology have the opportunity to streamline care and help patients become more engaged in their own care.
Healthcare organizations that use patient-centric technology tend to have more engaged patients than those that rely on manual, paper-based processes. Satisfied patients are more loyal and often become ambassadors for the organization — helping to attract and retain customers. Staying connected to providers through mobile patient engagement technology, encourages patients to be more involved with their care which ultimately leads to better outcomes.
Mobile options to consider
Patient portals are the most commonly used patient engagement technology. Integrated with electronic health records, patients can access key health information including test results through the portal. In many cases, patients also are able to request prescription refills, pay bills and schedule appointments through their portal. Secure messaging allows patients to communicate with their providers and sometimes can help avoid trips to the doctor’s office or can allow providers to identify potentially serious issues before they escalate.
Two-way patient-provider communication also reinforces that healthcare organizations care for their patients and are invested in their long-term health. By allowing patients to use the portal with their own mobile technology, healthcare providers can make interactions more efficient and effective.
Beyond portals, providers can integrate solutions that enable electronic patient registration and document signing. Leveraging these solutions can smooth patient access and eliminate the tedious process of completing paperwork while waiting to see the doctor. In some cases, patients can even use their personal handheld devices to sign consent forms and complete documents. Some solutions allow patients to register from the comfort of their homes before heading to the healthcare organization — leading to a much more efficient patient experience. These tools also streamline registration for the healthcare organization because the registrar no longer has to manually follow up on incomplete information.
Having information early also allows the provider to better prepare for the upcoming visit — contributing to increased patient safety and a more efficient billing and documentation process.
Patient wellness apps also are an emerging patient engagement technology that present a unique opportunity for healthcare providers. Organizations that access data from these apps can keep tabs on a patient’s health outside of their care visit. Not only are providers able to spot potential problems before they become serious issues, they also can intervene with education, coaching and other strategies to reduce the need for costly visits. They are able to provide a more customized care experience because they have a more longitudinal view of the patient’s health and wellness. Although many organizations are just starting to explore these applications, their use likely will become more prevalent in the future.
Advancements show no signs of stopping
As technology continues to evolve, healthcare organizations will continue to explore and leverage mobile solutions to better engage patients and make care more convenient and efficient. Organizations that embrace this idea can dramatically improve their relationships with patients, making care more accessible and even more effective. The organizations that remain committed to engaging patients using mobile technology stand to better serve their patients with increased satisfaction, cost savings and improved engagement.
- Eramo, Lisa A. “How to Improve Patient Engagement through Technology.” Medical Economics, 10 July 2017, www.medicaleconomics.com/medical-economics-blog/how-improve-patient-engagement-through-technology.
- “How MHealth Technology Supports Patient Engagement Strategies.” Edited by Sara Heath, PatientEngagementHIT, 17 Oct. 2016, patientengagementhit.com/features/how-mhealth-technology-supports-patient-engagement-strategies.
- Sawesi, Suhila, et al. “The Impact of Information Technology on Patient Engagement and Health Behavior Change: A Systematic Review of the Literature.” JMIR Medical Informatics, vol. 4, no. 1, 2016, doi:10.2196/medinform.4514.
- “What Patient Engagement Technology Is Good For.” Edited by Sandra Gittlen, NEJM Catalyst, 21 July 2017, catalyst.nejm.org/patient-engagement-technology-good-for/.