More healthcare professionals are adopting connected health technology to help advance patient engagement efforts, according to HIMSS.
In the 2016 HIMSS Connected Health Survey, the organization showed that 52 percent of the 227 IT professionals surveyed use at least three connected health technologies, with 69 percent reporting an emphasis on sending and receiving health data between patient and provider.
Respondents also listed a litany of apps used to help improve patient engagement, the most popular of which being mobile optimized patient portals, with 58 percent of respondents reporting using such. Other popular technologies included patient education/patient engagement apps (48 percent), remote patient monitoring (37 percent), telehealth technology (34 percent), SMS texting (33 percent), patient-generated health data technology (32 percent), and concierge service telehealth (26 percent).
Healthcare organizations are also looking to expand their connected health technology in the name of patient engagement, with 47 percent of respondents reporting such. These hospitals are mostly looking to expand upon patient-generated health data, concierge telehealth services, and SMS texting between patient and provider.
HIMSS executives say that these results are indicative of the industry shift to patient-centered care. By utilizing patient-facing technology and systems that specifically enable patient-provider communication, hospitals are looking toward a future where the patient is the epicenter of care and fully engaged even outside the doctor’s office.
"The healthcare ecosystem is increasingly converging on patient centric technology solutions," said HIMSS director of Healthcare Information Systems Tom Martin, Ph.D. "The role of the provider is to expand far beyond the walls of the exam room, especially as our healthcare system transitions towards value based purchasing. The Connected Health findings illustrate the importance of interactive relationships between physicians and individuals and technology as a means to advance comprehensive health and healthcare."
Health IT has long proven itself effective in promoting patient engagement. Between patient portals – which give patients the ability to view their entire health record as well as email connect with physicians – and mHealth apps, patients are becoming increasingly involved in their own healthcare.
The healthcare industry is feeling this and adjusting their technology adoption as such. In seeing that patients might want access to their health information, more providers are adopting patient portals.
What’s important, however, is that providers are instructing patients in effective use of the portal. It is simply not enough for providers to add patient portals to their slew of health technology; they need to make sure patients know they exist and know the benefits of them.
Likewise, patients need to understand how the portals work and understand how to navigate them. Industry experts say that this is one area where the healthcare space is failing.
“Consumers said that a provider’s website needs improvement,” said senior director of clinical applications at Inland Northwest Health Services Marcia Cheadle, RN. “That we could not find the portal easily on the website, and if we did find the portal, they’re not easy to use, and they did not have an ability to find the information – either it wasn’t there or wasn’t the relevant information that the patient was looking for.”
To fix this problem, Cheadle says that providers need to walk their patients through using the portal, allowing them to get their bearings while an expert is still at hand. Additionally, providers need to advocate for the portal, explaining that it’s an integral part in empowering a patient in her care.