How mobile patient engagement can change patient behavior

Who is the most important driver of patient wellness? It’s the patient.

 Unfortunately, patients struggle every day to be take the lead in their own care and to meet the expectations outlined by their physicians in their care plans.

patient

We also know that patient behavior is the primary driver in improving long-term health. Engaged patients are more satisfied patients and more apt to follow treatment plans. Fortunately, we are in a time when a physician’s advice and counsel can walk beside a patient virtually to help them manage their care and be active in its outcome.

Why is it so difficult?

Social determinants findings indicate that patient behavior makes up a much bigger share of what makes a person healthy than even genetics or medical intervention. To put this into perspective, individual behaviors account for 40% of premature deaths in the U.S. according to We Can Do Better – Improving the Health of the American People (New England Journal of Medicine) by Dr. Steven Schroeder.

Nearly 80% of premature deaths are due to just three behaviors: tobacco use, dietary patterns and physical activity. Since we have determined the primary behaviors tied to premature death, we can easily solve them, right? Sadly, this is not the case. Patient non-compliance for chronic illness care plans is reported to be as high as 50-80%.

Patients often face difficulties adhering to lifestyle behavior changes recommended to improve health. It’s a problem of enormous clinical significance because it negatively impacts the long-term success of health interventions.

Why is it so difficult to adhere to a healthy lifestyle? According to the experts:

  • The recommendations are often too complex.
  • Patients may face adverse socio-cultural, environmental and physiological influences that prevent them from successful adherence.

How we can help

Fortunately, central to many health reform measures is the expanded role of patient/provider interactions. Top priority is being given to care that extends beyond the traditional hospital and office setting. Ensuring a patient’s care team is highly engaged with each patient in their care is an enormous task. At the core of this concept is ensuring engagement activities are easy to understand, occur at the precise moment they will have the most impact, and are easy to consume and act upon.

Studies show more needs to be done to help patients adhere to their care plans beyond episodic visits to the doctor.

Digital transformation and the transition to value-based care are pushing care providers to change their patient experience approach.

This is where mobile-first patient engagement tools step in and address the problem. It’s not when the patient is in the office for 30 minutes that makes the most difference, but in the behaviors they practice outside the walls of the organization.

How mobile-first patient engagement tools help

Health knowledge
Patient engagement should cover the entire care journey and include pre-care, point of care, post-care.

Pre-visit engagement activities can include scheduling, appointment confirmation, and wait lists for early appointments and payment collection. Engaging patients at the point of care can be done in many ways, including mobile check in, self-assessments, e-form, timely notifications and education, discharge prep and more.

Post-care is where we can engage patients with mobile discharge instructions, care plan adherence support, clinically relevant outreach and targeted follow up.

Self-efficacy
Mobile tools can satisfy self-efficacy by sending reminders. A patient can receive a reminder to bring a list of current medications to her visit or a reminder to fast before a blood test.

Outcome expectations
Without mobile-first patient engagement tools, outcome expectations are harder to meet. Patients expect to be informed in every step of their care journey.

Self-regulation
A patient’s health journey feels more personalized when they have easy access to their medical records and other health information from on their smartphones. For example, patients don’t have to wait on the organization’s front desk staff to set up an appointment because they can do it themselves on their phone. Mobile tools empower patients to take charge of their care.

Barriers to change
Mobile tools make it easy for patients to stay connected by removing barriers that discourage interaction – like requiring them to log into and out of multiple portals tethered to different EHRs. Patients can have a single point of access regardless of an individual provider’s software. Plus, discrete patient-generated data flows directly back to the EHR to automatically populate the medical record.

Technology is the supporting tool that reinforces what providers encourage patients to do. It delivers the guidance they expect from their providers. Mobile-first patient engagement tools help drive positive behavior, ultimately improving the quality of care and enabling healthier patient populations.

Engaged patients are traditionally healthier, have better outcomes and are more satisfied with their providers.

To discover the right mobile-first patient engagement tool for you, click here.

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Allscripts' website

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