How to improve patient engagement through technology
by Jessica Herráiz, April 28, 2021
We are becoming more accustomed to hearing people talk about the importance of involving patients in the management of their illness, making them participants in the clinical decision-making through the information and tools that facilitate that throughout the course of the healthcare process. Today we will consider the already-known idea of patient engagement and how it is helping patients to feel more empowered and committed to the care of their own health.
What is patient engagement?
The World Health Organization defines patient engagement as the capacity of patients, families, carers, as well as health care providers, to facilitate and support the active involvement of patients in their own care, in order to enhance safety, and quality of life.
This concept becomes a cornerstone of patient-centered medicine and the improvement of clinical outcomes. This is confirmed by various studies that have demonstrated that those patients who receive more information and participate more in clinical decision-making show greater commitment to following the guidelines established during the healthcare process, improving their clinical outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. One example of that is the study, “Enhanced Support For Shared Decision Making Reduced Costs Of Care For Patients With Preference-Sensitive Conditions”, carried out with 60,185 patients. The study showed a 5.3% reduction in physician costs and 12.5% fewer hospital admissions in those patients who had more involvement in the management of their disease and who received more support during the healthcare process.
How can patient engagement be increased?
As confirmed by the WHO, collecting information about medical results and patient experience (the already-familiar PROMs and PREMs) can be the point of departure for involving patients in the management of their disease.
Technology becomes a high-value tool for accomplishing this, facilitating the collection of these types of data directly from the patient, in addition to sharing educational content that promotes greater understanding. In addition, this type of platform helps maintain a more direct patient-physician relationship, improving remote monitoring of the disease and, therefore, improving patient engagement.
For this to be possible, and to be carried out in an effective way, it is important for these platforms to be based on scientific evidence and to offer validated information that is endorsed by healthcare professionals and is a reliable resource for persons suffering from the disease. On the other hand, it is also important for these tools to be based on a technology that is functional, useful, and accessible, with the goal of maintaining the patient’s commitment and use over the long term.
Today, patient engagement is an element that is enabling the improvement of the way we manage diseases, involving the patient throughout the process of his or her disease. We are already seeing how technology is becoming the perfect partner in that goal, facilitating this work and making it more accessible to physicians and patients. The goal is continuous evolution toward healthcare systems that are more efficient and optimal over time.