11 Patient-Centered Digital Health Trends

Today’s healthcare leaders are faced with challenges in managing the financial health of their organizations; especially in response to the expansion of quality reporting, meaningful use and other penalties.  They are looking for ways to improve the health of their patients, and condition-specific populations, at a reasonable cost.  Increasingly they hear about the importance of patient-centeredness and the most effective of these leaders are recognizing the connection to digital health tools.

doctor and patient

Being “patient-centered” and engaging patients is more than just improving customer satisfaction.  It is also about improving the quality and safety of care and outcomes by connecting with patients even when they are not standing in front of their providers.  Patients don’t always think of their questions while still in the exam room; especially those with chronic disease who only average six hours a year in a medical office.  The rest of the time, 8,754 hours a year, they are out living their lives and need support with self-management activities to improve or maintain their health.

Healthcare consumers desire relevant, contextual information on their condition that is endorsed by their provider.  They also want user-friendly (patient centric) self-care tools to document and transmit information or complete tasks and transactions; customized to their individual learning and language needs and preferences.

Our top digital health trends that will impact the patient experience and their health status include the following:  

  1. The same analytic tools that have been used by payers for years are finally making their way into the hands of providers as they move from episodic care to a more longitudinal approach to an individual’s health.  Data analysis combined with clinical algorithms will facilitate scoring of an individual’s health and to help providers identify trends or patterns.  

  2. Increased use of structured data for more complete access and analysis of all of a patient’s data will facilitate more effective care planning.  Software will capture data collected by patients during self-care activities and combine it with data generated by clinicians for analysis.  The result will be a more accurate picture of the patient’s longitudinal health status; including what test results or documentation might be missing and alerts to providers for who has not been, or needs to be, seen.

  3. Collaboration and partnering will extend beyond the traditional healthcare delivery system to community-based organizations and companies outside of healthcare who can demonstrate the value of their emerging technologies and innovative business lines. Tracking and analyzing metrics as patients move along the care continuum will also help hospitals identify those partners with the best outcomes and when transition points should be scheduled.  

  4. Increasingly social technologies will be leveraged to not only build relationships with consumers, but also to facilitate ongoing connections for more efficient self-management activities and care processes.  The multimodal characteristic of social technologies will help keep patients engaged in updates to treatment planning, improving their health knowledge and maintain connections to systems of support.

  5. Sensors to track movement can be placed in the environment or on the person and provide remote insight into a patient’s activities.  Family caregivers and providers will have access to data on when and where the patient is ambulating, how often they are going into their pantry or refrigerator, when they have left their home and returned, and at what time they take their medications.

  6. Wearable devices incorporating sensing technologies can also be used to track patient heart rates, blood pressure, physical activity, sleep patterns, and more.  The data collected can be used to not only make treatment planning more personalized, but also contribute to research for precise medicine.  

  7. Siri-like digital voice support to guide patients through self-care processes and deliver educational content in the patient’s preferred language.  The interactive messaging providing guidance or support when needed can also record responses; facilitating closed-loop communications and alerts to clinicians when follow-up is necessary.

  8. Robots will help individuals to overcome functional limitations, especially as the number of older adults balloons in size.  Robotic technologies will be applied to assist the elderly, disabled or those experiencing functional limitations as they recover from surgery or illness with activities of daily living; shortening the length of stay in facilities and keeping some self-sufficient and in their homes longer.

  9. Telemedicine, sometimes combined with robots or mobile devices, will help overcome geographic or travel challenges and bring some care processes like behavioral assessments, ancillary therapies or medication/wound checks into the home.

  10. The recent example of a hospital’s data being held for ransom really brings the reality of malicious attacks on patient information to light. Hospitals and other providers will be forced to take more proactive steps to safeguard their patient information and keep patients safe. They will do this to avoid the widespread media attention Hollywood Presbyterian received once knowledge of the attack got out and to maintain the trust of their patients who will expect their providers to secure their privacy and financial health.  

  11. Smartphones and tablets that use applications to help patients and their family caregivers transact their health business and put self-management tools, at their fingertips. This includes the ability to capture biological and diagnostic values, such as, breath, urine and tissue analysis or blood sugar levels and transmit them to providers for monitoring.

Traditional ways of communicating and connecting with patients and their family caregivers have proven insufficient to improve the health literacy of patients about their conditions.  Digital health provides tremendous opportunities personalize care by intervening with the right tools, at the right time, for the right patient.


Author: Digital Health Team
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