In an earlier time, hospitals and doctor’s offices were viewed as unapproachable fortresses. The drawbridge would come down, and the patient would come in only when sickness arrived or when treatment was completed. Then the patient would go home, and that was that. We know now that such infrequent, clinical care did a disservice to the patient.
Today, the pendulum has swung the other direction. Healthcare is seen as an integrated, holistic, seamless part of a more vital and robust life. With wearables, online engagement and IoT, hospitals are now recognized as wellness centers and physicians as partners and coaches helping patients live better lives. This pendulum swing is more than just a “feel-good” story; this trend has an actual impact on health outcomes. Consider the following statistics from Evisit.com:
After employing multimedia programs meant to help patients understand complex health information or information regarding self-care or upcoming procedures, 86% of 29 participating hospitals improved doctor-to-patient communication, and 69% improved their overall rating by 4% or more.
Increased online patient involvement can result in a 90% satisfaction rate for both patients and physicians.
Texting patients can increase medication adherence for chronic disease patients from 50% to 67.8%, or a 17.8% overall increase.
About 93% of physicians feel health apps can boost a patient’s healthcare outcome.
Here are some other areas where this amplified engagement has created better health outcomes:
1. PREVENTATIVE CARE:
By having the patient stay a part of the healthcare ecosystem continuously, early warning signs can be noticed and, if needed, treated. Patient platforms like PatientBond that use segmented psychographic engagement can be crucial in this mission. PatientBond uses psychographic segmentation to group patients into five segments, each with a unique set of motivations and communication preferences. These insights are then used to create automated, personalized messages that drive desired behaviors.
If a patient’s healthcare provider is following up, engaging, and asking questions, that cough may be caught and diagnosed early as pneumonia. That small lump may be reported to the patient’s physician, and early cancer detected, and we all know that cancer caught early is far more treatable. Preventative care saves lives and dollars, and that is a win for everyone.
2. MEDICATION MANAGEMENT:
We’ve all seen the pillboxes that are labeled by day of the week that our parents and grandparents use. For years that was the extent of the advancements in making sure patients took their medicine. However, today there are smartphone apps and patient platforms that interact and remind them to take their medicine. A recent PatientBond market research study found that 26% of patients are willing to use a virtual health assistant using artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor health conditions, medications and vital signs at home. This engagement can also identify when a patient is getting low on their medication, is taking the correct dosage or needs a change in their dose. A correctly followed regiment of medication can make all the difference in creating a positive outcome.
3. HOSPITAL READMISSIONS:
Hospital readmissions are costly for everyone. For the hospital, unnecessary readmission can result in stiff financial penalties. Those financial penalties can reduce resources and available care. For the patient, preventable hospital readmission means life disruption, exposure to potentially dangerous germs, economic hardship, and on and on.
Recent statistics show that 71 percent of hospitals are experiencing reduced Medicare payments because of readmissions. The lost payments nationwide amounted to $15 billion, and three-quarters of readmissions are preventable.
This is where online engagement platforms are an inexpensive, highly effective way to engage patients while avoiding readmissions.
4. REDUCING PHYSICIAN BURN-OUT:
This is important. When we board an airplane for our family vacation to an exotic tropical locale, we want our pilot rested. Very rested. When your life is in someone else’s hands, you want that person on top of their game. If a physician is going to be opening up your chest and probing your heart or poking around your liver, you want them to have had a good night’s sleep and just, in general, feel satisfied and not overwhelmed with work. Technology can help with that.
As customers, we now do our banking, pump our gas, assemble our furniture, check ourselves in at the airport and out at the grocery store. These examples allow those providing services to use human resources more efficiently, contributing to increased worker productivity. In most cases, the advent of these strategies was viewed with concern, but now all are almost universally viewed as empowering consumers. Can we follow this model of customer empowerment and create an architecture that allows us to engage patients in their healthcare?”
5. COMMUNITY HEALTH:
We’ve outlined some of the benefits of patient engagement for individuals and institutions, but what if this benefit were compounded many times over? You’d have a healthier community, and that would build on itself with substantial cost savings, improved conversations about wellness, and a lifting up of underserved populations. 38% of respondents in a recent PatientBond market research study said they would be willing to experience major delays in getting a doctor’s appointment if it meant everyone could get the care they needed. And of those respondents, a whopping 52% are Willful Endurers, which are statistically more likely to agree or strongly agree on that sentiment than the other psychographic segments. That says a lot considering Willful Endurers represent 27% of the general population.
The adage that a rising tide lifts all boats applies to patient engagement. Improved engagement and wellness throughout the community can help everyone, from the hospital's bottom line down to the health of the uninsured college student. Engagement is a winner all the way around.