How Technology Shapes Patient Engagement

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Monday, 29 June 2015 15:54

From wearable devices to telehealth and patient portals, emerging new technologies are paving the way for greater patient engagement, and enhancing the way that patients manage their own health. With a nudge from Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentives programs for Stage 2 of meaningful use, providers have also started looking for ways they can better communicate with patients.

Benefits of Patient Engagement:

Through the coordinated effort and buy-in from providers and patients, we can begin to see improved health outcomes, reduced costs and other benefits. Some of the benefits of better patient engagement include:

Tools for Patient Engagement:

When patients are more engaged in their own health, they tend to make healthier choices, and thus have greater overall health. Some of the latest technologies shaping patient engagement involve managing patient health data, communicating with physicians before, during and after a visit, self-care at home, education and financial management. Patients could use any number of available tools to manage their health. One of the main tools currently in use for patient engagement is the patient portal. These secure, online websites give patients 24/7 access to their personal health information. Along with personalized data on medications, allergies, and vital statistics, patients can use patient portals to review recent doctor visits, lab results and discharge summaries. In many patient portals, patients can manage and update personal information, coordinate billing and insurance, schedule appointments, download paperwork, request prescription refills, and even send a secure email to a provider. With easy access to this personal health information, patients and caregivers can stay more involved in the healthcare process.

Obstacles of Patient Engagement:

While everyone agrees that patient engagement is a good thing, there are still some hurdles that are preventing patients from becoming fully engaged. These include:

With health information exchanges, electronic health records and patient portals already in use across the health system, technologies are helping patients get fully engaged in their own health and well-being. Healthcare institutions must embrace these new changes slowly, while keeping policy and interoperatiblity in mind. In addition, by helping patients navigate this new world of communication, hospitals can work with technology partners to reap the many benefits that successful patient engagement offers.