Leveraging Health IT to Strengthen Patient Engagement
In the spirit of moving innovation forward, I found relevance in the following article about engendering trust using healthcare technology. In the crossfire of my own struggles with technology, I can appreciate the very salient points outlined by the author. Specifically, he asserts that healthcare IT can be the lever for improving the physician-patient relationship through the following means.
In the first instance, he points out that technology can help a physician provide SMARTER care. With escalating numbers of insured patients attempting to be seen by a shrinking provider pool, new delivery methods must be sought to meet this demand. While the article addresses wellness and preventative care, it is a natural extension to mention patient’s interest in mobile visits. Incorporating SMS, video and email into the physician toolbox is tantamount; however, certain touch points require a face to face interaction…and the mobile visit solves this dilemma. In fact, I would dare say that all mediums should be utilized to ensure that the patient’s particular learning mode is engaged and the provider’s message is reinforced.
Secondly, healthcare IT can optimize physician workflow and remove administrative shackles draining resources and diverting attention from the more complex tasks at hand – treating chronically ill patients. As noted, “technology can take over for clinicians when it comes to some of the more benign data capture and aggregation roles.” While this can cover items such as first time visit paperwork, it can also be employed for personal health records, population health management, as well as the patient”s & provider’s modification of the medical record. And by lightening the physician’s load, they are free to pursue clinical partners and engage them in community health and prevention efforts. At minimum, in celebration of National Public Health Week, there should be a focus on data exchange for immunization and prevention.
Thirdly, one of the core means of establishing trust occurs through the delivery of personalized messages in a format most conducive to each individual patient’s learning and retention style. Using technology to engage patients and stay connected during their care demonstrates concern and establishes trust – an integral component to the healing process and a competitive edge for a practice seeking to maximize efficiency and minimize cost.
Last, but not least, the author stresses that technology must be implemented in a safe and secure manner in order to protect and preserve the relationships with one’s patients. Specifically, “being aware of the security of the larger ecosystem of which an organization is part is a way to quell data loss and enhance the trust of patients.” Perhaps one of the most difficult things to do today, but arguably should not be forgotten in the quest to do no harm.
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