Category Archives: patient engagement

Can technology help you make better health care decisions?


In previous blogs I’ve talked about using technology to improve your health, such as this one on apps. Most apps today are still focused on general health and wellness. Even though that is the case those apps can help people with chronic conditions monitor those conditions. For instance, the Fitbit can monitor your pulse/heart rate. This is great if you have a heart condition.

Now picture yourself faced with a decision, large or small, about treatment for your health decision. Do you solely rely on the doctor’s advice? Do you have a discussion with the doctor weighing the options and the pros and cons? Do you Google it? What if there were an app to help you review your issues/symptoms? What if it could help you to evaluate the risks?  I think most people would like to have that assistance – especially with the “big” decisions – surgery, cancer, etc.

Then add to it that your can possibly review your own health records (check out my blog post on OpenNotes). This can help you understand your health as a whole. There are also decision aids that help translate the medical talk – you don’t have to go to a medical terminology class now to understand those words!

“There are many health conditions where there are multiple good options for treatment, and not a clear best option,” says Angie Fagerlin, chair of the department of population health sciences at the University of Utah, a research scientist at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and president of the Society for Medical Decision Making. “Shared decision making allows patients to engage in a deliberative, communicative process with their clinicians, and be active participants in their care.”

Take a peek at the article in the Wall Street Journal’s article on getting patients to take more control of their medical decisions. 

Have you used apps or decision aids in making decisions about your healthcare?


Smartphone Apps & the Healthcare Setting


In a recent blog post for Pivot Point Consulting I share information and thoughts on the use of smartphones in the health setting. We use a lot of health apps as we have become a society that is much more aware of our health over the last 10 years. We use fitness app, those with health/diseases use apps to monitor their disease state and the healthcare providers use apps to provide at the hand information. So what do you use your smartphone for related to your health?

 

smartphone


The OpenNotes Initiative: How Transparency is Leading to Consumerism in Healthcare


Take a look at my blog contribution on the OpenNotes project!

If you haven’t heard about it, OpenNotes is a project that initiated in 2010 to see how patients and care providers would react to the patient having access their visit note after they saw the provider. If you want to find out what the patients thought of the experience check out the blog. Did they like having the access and information? How did they use the information after they saw it? And what did the care providers think of the experience?


The new “drugs” – smartphone apps or patient engagement? or both?


In a recent post I mentioned a quote from Sherry Reynolds:

 “If  # OpenNotes was a new drug that increased patient engagement by 85%,  every doctor in the country would be prescribing it.”

Now I see an article from American Medical News talking about smartphone apps being the new drug. That really caught my attention – mostly because I am trying to use that concept in my graduate class theory paper. But back to the point…We all have kids that can’t put down the phone – the smartphone because they are texting, Facetiming, gaming, or who knows what else. I’m one of those adults that is almost as bad as my child. I am always checking Facebook, checking my WordPress for comments or likes, looking up the closest cupcake bakery, or texting one of my children or Hubby because I’ve forgotten what I was supposed to have been doing while I was doing all of that. Am I addicted to my smartphone? Nahhhh Could I go a day without it completely? Hmmmm, not so sure…..I’ve gotten close while on two cruises. But when you get to shore you can usually see who’s doing what on Facebook that you might have missed. Or even those wonderful work emails that you are truly afraid that someone messed that project up while you were gone. OOYY!!

So you can see where I am going with the familiarity of those people in the US younger than the age of say 55 – no, don’t go all ballistic on me if you are over 55! My dad only knows how to answer and call on his flip phone and my mom is becoming an iPhone guru so people are different! We rely on those smartphones. Sometimes we rely on them to the point of psychically wrong proportions -but that’s another article.

This is the key point I like about this article:

Discussions are taking place in exam rooms across the country about how a $1 app could be a viable alternative to prescribing a medication and help patients monitor their health. Some even have referred to the act of physicians recommending mobile health as “prescribing an app.”

In the traditional sense of prescribing, the phrase is not accurate, said David Collins, senior director of mHIMSS, a subsidiary of the Health Information and Management Systems Society focused on mobile health initiatives. “But in the digital wave of medicine, when it comes to mobile health, I’d say it does make sense. Patients are used to going to their doctor’s office, getting their problem solved and leaving with a prescription in their hands.”

A few things to think about with this theory, from my point of view.

1) are the patients in that group of users that will know how to get the app, download/install it and then use it? If yes, this can be quick – a business card with the name of the app and whether it is available on the Apple platform or the Android.

2)If they can get to the point of using it then do they know how to get the good stuff out of the app? With calorie counter apps it seems to be easier – you program the number of calories per day, track what you eat, see how you do. With apps that are more complicated and linked – usually via bluetooth – then there is a bit more complexity to the use of the app and the information that you get from it. Then how do you share that information at your next visit? Or even before your next visit?

3) The physician – or designated office person – would need to become a person who helped patients go thru this cycle of us. They are going to have questions when they get home. They are going to have questions when they have a weeks’ worth of data in the app and can’t see what they think they should. They will need help. Can a physician office or clinic charge for that service? (my devil’s advocate at work there.)

Overall, this is a great idea. It is moving on the right path to a nation that has been embracing a healthier lifestyle over the last 15 years. Truly, we have. There are still issues with obesity and such but there is a major trend in our population to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

These are some great statistics:

PATIENT MOBILE HEALTH BELIEFS

59% say mobile health has given them solutions that have replaced some doctor visits.

52% say mobile health will lower health care costs within three years.

49% think it will change the way they manage their overall health.

48% say it will improve health care quality within three years.

48% think it will change the way they manage chronic conditions.

48% say it will change the way they manage medication.

46% believe it will make their health care more convenient within three years.

PHYSICIAN MOBILE HEALTH BELIEFS

42% say mobile health will make patients too independent.

27% will encourage patients to use mobile health apps.

13% will discourage patients from using mobile health apps.

Source: “Emerging mHealth: Paths for growth,” PwC, June (pwc.com/en_GX/gx/healthcare/mhealth/assets/pwc-emerging-mhealth-full.pdf)

 

Do you think you would use an app that your physician recommended ? How much “help” would you expect to need to use it? How much interaction would you expect with the physician/office if you were to use it – more or less?

 


More patient engagement – if it were a drug….


I’m just stumbling onto all kinds of articles on the OpenNotes topic. Remember those articles with the AHRQ topic of patient access to their medical/clinician notes? Here is another post that I like from Forbes by Dave Chase! It compares patient engagement to a new drug with this great quote from Sherry Reynolds:

“If  # OpenNotes was a new drug that increased patient engagement by 85%,  every doctor in the country would be prescribing it.”

And here is the great graphic from Robert Woods Johnson Foundation


Start up technology companies engagement with providers and patients


Found this article on Zite today about new technology startups partnering with providers and patients. With the start of the article it states that healthcare may become more personal. It also mentions that the new technology could contribute to this in that the technology may provoke more patient engagement. The author (Jennifer Greenway) uses the word that Donna Cryer of CryerHealth brought into being – operationalization – with the quote

“patient engagement in action looks like shared responsibility between patients (and their families if applicable), health care practitioners (the entire team: surgeons, physicians, nurses) and healthcare administrators (providers of the infrastructure and payment models) to co-develop pathways to optimal individual, community and population health.”

I just keep saying YEAH and WOOHOO to this approach or belief in patient engagement increasing. But when Hubby and I had this conversation about where healthcare is going for the future he disagreed with me on the topic of it being a consumer based system in the future – that providers would be dependent (really a stronger word than I want to use) on the choice of a patient to utilize their services. His view is that with the reform going on now and continuing that we as consumers will have fewer choices and will be told who we can utilize for services and which services we can have. As I said, I disagree and really hope that is not the path we are on. What do you think?

One of my favorite foundations, Robert Wood Johnson, has Project Health Design and Ms. Greenway notes

Witnessing the extraordinary outcomes achieved by interdisciplinary teams of researchers, technology experts, clinicians and patients participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Project Health Design engagement for development of tools to be used by real people to improve their health, better engage in their care, and enhance communication with their providers, why can’t we accelerate this innovation two or three-fold?

I have to agree – why can’t we?

 


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