It almost is beyond discussion that engaged patients, feeling empowered in their own healthcare and treatment, have better outcomes in both wellness and recovery from injury or illness. Technology can play a tremendous role in driving this patient engagement. Providers would do well (forgive the pun) to take advantage of innovations and methods to enable their patients to thrive, and for treatments to succeed.
Such engagement doesn’t always require bleeding edge, expensive or untested solutions. Some can be quite simple. Here are a few examples.
Mobile Apps – Many health insurance providers have rolled out apps to help their enrollees to search for doctors, clinics, and hospitals within networks, including map functionality to locate a facility or practitioner nearby. Hospitals and clinics deploy apps to allow the same functionality along with the ability to set or change appointments.
Growth in the app market is expected to mature as providers become more comfortable with HIPAA regulations, and a population used to using apps, tablets and smartphones matures into a major healthcare consumer market segment.
Web Interfaces – Not everyone needs or wants to download a mobile app. Web portals can provide rich interfaces between patients and providers, often using tools such as live video and chat to connect patients and providers such as nurses or even doctors in real time. Web interfaces, especially those that are HTML5 native, can provide platform independent user experiences that translate well across traditional desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even devices like smart televisions. Walmart and other pharmacies use web interfaces to indicate to patients when their prescriptions are filled, or to order refills directly.
Ye Olde Telephone – The telephone doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention anymore, but it’s still a primary means of communications, and for many it remains the only option. Technology can still save the day, with artificial intelligence, outbound IVR (Interactive Voice Repsonse), and SMS (Simple Message Service) as tools that run the gamut from legacy to next-generation. By now, many of us have received automated reminder calls the day before an appointment. We shouldn’t lose sight of these valuable tools as glitzy multimedia interfaces get all the hype.