For decades, technology in health care has been used mostly in specialized machinery like MRI scanners and X-ray machines. Progressively, and throughout the years, technology is being used to create a better patient experience and efficiently run hospitals and medical practices.
Disrupting health engagement requires the adoption of new ways of technology, but, most importantly, a new way of working along with the patients by providing access to specialized services that contribute to people’s social determinants of health.
So, how do we disrupt health care? There are possibly five elements that contribute to this:
- better provider-patient communication and collaboration
- real-time analytics
- internal health care team collaboration
- wearable technology to assist
- the easy access to health services
Let’s dive into each of these elements in more detail.
Improving Provider-Patient Communication and Collaboration
Communication is critical in any relationship. Provider-patient relationships are not an exception. Education and content reign today’s internet era and people have access to more information than ever. However, a provider possibly knows a patient’s medical history more than he or she knows or can understand it. Therefore, clean and easy communication between these two parties is critical to health care management and understanding determinants.
Multichannel strategies on technology have allowed companies and hospitals to have better communication and reach to their population. With mobile, web, and chatbot interfaces, patients have access to a variety of experiences that better fit their needs and likes.
Analyzing data as soon as it becomes available is an important element of health engagement. Patients need immediate feedback on their health to create instant action items for them to act upon.
A system with triggers, alerts, and notifications allows health care team members to better be aware of their patients’ needs and be able to make quick recommendations to remedy these. The outputs of this instant data analysis become part of a series of outreaches to provide the proper health services needed.
Internal Health Care Team Collaboration
In the same way that provider-patient communication is important, we can not discard internal communication as a critical part of this whole operation. The members of this multifunctional team provide the hospital with a variety of functional expertise that is used to better drive ideas, projects, and other aspects of health care for their patients.
For these teams to better work, their members need to have a variety of things in place:
- Similar goals
- Shared planning
- Dynamism on transforming processes
- Cooperation, negotiation, trust, and respect
- Collective actions to address complex patient needs
- Shared views of determinants
The physical connection of team collaboration is important, but so is the psychological aspect. Teams work together for a common goal and this goal represents the better service and delivery of healthcare services to their patient population.
Wearable Technology to Assist
Wearable technology might sound as a preference or choice—but at its essence, it represents patient data that could be explanatory to their needs and wants.
But why is it wearable technology part of a health engagement strategy? There are five main reasons this should be part of any health engagement program:
- Significant health data: there is an incredible amount of data that gets routed through these devices. People moves, steps, distance, weight, diet, among others, are just a few to mention of the spectrum of data outputs we get from these wearables.
- A wide array of types: there is a wide variety of types of wearable technology out there today to better fit anyone’s preference, likes, and needs.
- The future of health care: We’ve all seen movies where wearable technology is used to deliver medical attention— information, content, and even medications. Of course, these are just movies, but the reality is that wearable technology is molding itself to become a most needed device to deliver healthcare in the near future.
- Data for clinical trials: The data collected from these devices is so raw and personal that using it for clinical trials could be a great way of using real inputs to provide great output recommendations.
- Social connection: Wearables also provide a social connection by allowing this data to be shared on social platforms, creating a sense of community around wellbeing and the wearable spectrum.
Easy Access to Health Services
We all agree that people should have easy access to health services. We all deserve it, need it, want it, and most importantly, is a right we have.
There are numerous reasons why access to health services is so important, but just a few include: barriers accessing health services could lead to unmet health needs, delays in receiving health care, inability to receive preventative care, financial burden, preventable hospitalization, among many others.
The access to care, unfortunately, could also be affected by a variety of elements such as discrimination, educational opportunities, cost of health insurance, trust in providers, job insecurity, cultural and linguistic competency, transportation, and provider availability. The collection of these elements represent our social determinants of health.
The delivery of health care is not only represented by visiting a physician and receiving medications and advice but also to continue closing the loop on health care by providing patients with health services that they need to keep managing their health and become part of their own community.
These services should be delivered in a constant but intuitive way where patients have the opportunity to receive them in a variety of means such as automated phone calls, text messages, chatbots, and web and mobile interfaces. These provide a choice of mediums for delivery to better fit the needs, wants, and technological preferences of the patient population.
In an era where we have so many services, the internet of things, and more, we should all strive to receive better care when it comes to our health—most importantly, identifying the determinants of health that could affect us is critical. Today’s social era grants us with countless determinants to better engage ourselves with our health and to make us learn and understand our own problems and conditions.
In the end, it’s not about addressing health conditions, it’s all about addressing people’s needs.
Angel Leon, Head of Operations and Product at Health Hero, is a technology management professional and veteran with a passion for technology and health.
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