In the push toward patient-centered care, “patient engagement has emerged as a key strategy for not just treating chronic conditions but also providing better, more collaborative and more efficient healthcare,” Brian Eastwood, senior editor of CIO.com, notes in a recent article on new methods medical practitioners are using to improve patient engagement.
As we tweeted yesterday, patient engagement has proven effective in chronic disease management, but the development of wearable medical devices and mobile technology that allow real-time data sharing is making it possible to extend patient engagement to a broader range of medical applications. In addition to chronic disease management, increased patient engagement is showing positive results in a diverse range of medical areas, including preventive medicine, obstetric care, surgical recovery and rehabilitative therapy.
Secure online patient portals which have become de rigueur under new HIPAA regulations allow patients and physicians to communicate freely and frequently. Patients can review doctors’ orders, download medical device data, ask questions, access medication schedules, view lab results and schedule appointments from the privacy of their homes. Patient portals also allow physicians and authorized medical office staff to enhance patient care by uploading treatment protocols, scheduling medication reminders, monitoring daily patient progress and providing patient encouragement and support. Information exchanged on portals can also alert physicians to potential problems and health issues so that they can be addressed early.
While a boon to patient care, the problem with the growing emphasis on computerized patient engagement is the erosion of the human bond between patients and their physicians. Use of live operator medical answering services can help maintain that critically important human connection.