As healthcare providers continue to seek opportunities to improve patient outcomes, they are faced with multiple challenges, including a largely inefficient healthcare system, increasing demand, growing costs, and a shortage of physicians. Collectively, these factors make it difficult to improve results and ensure all patients have access to the care they need. This is where connected health as a standard of care delivery can help.
Greater Availability of Connected Devices
Part of the challenge lies in the traditional healthcare model, where patients typically seek care in healthcare facilities when needs arise. But, with the proliferation of connected devices and access to higher speed internet, technology can play a role in bridging some of the gaps in the healthcare system. Ninety percent of U.S. consumers already own at least one connected home device, and the same amount use the internet. That means the overwhelming majority of patients are already equipped to become more involved in their own health and wellness simply by using the same technologies they have already adopted, opening the door to connected health as a way to drive a better healthcare system.
More Communication Between Patients and Doctors
With many of the connected health tools already available, healthcare can become more patient-centric and drive more touchpoints between patients and providers and can deliver more health information and data than traditional models provide. That includes devices from common consumer fitness trackers to medical-grade remote patient monitoring devices and other tools, all of which can provide valuable information about patients’ conditions. The increased touchpoints can also help patients stay better informed and involved in their wellness.
Patient-centric care requires increased interaction between patients and their providers, with the goal being to provide patients more information with which to make good healthcare decisions, either on their own or in collaboration with their physicians. The idea is that, by increasing interactions with physicians and health data, patients will become more aware of their conditions, changes, and needs, and that the additional information to which they have access will encourage them to participate more in managing their overall health. Tools might include patient portals, online scheduling, mobile or web apps, wearable devices, telehealth visits, automated messaging and reminders, and other digital tools to increase touchpoints.
The data generated by connected health tools can also increase patient accountability. With so much data automatically recorded and delivered into records, providers and patients both have access to more timely insight into conditions and treatment results and can follow health activity regularly. Rather than having to wait for scheduled office visits, providers can engage with patients more regularly through connected health tools, even for simple confirmation of their progress – or to hold them accountable when they fall behind on treatment regimens.
Better Informed Decision-making
Physicians and other caregivers can act on changing conditions faster to preemptively address emerging issues, rather than waiting days, weeks, or longer for new data to be collected during physical office visits. By using connected health devices along with the capability of scheduling virtual visits to monitor patient conditions in real-time, physicians can have immediate access to current information and be alerted to any changes in patient conditions.
Focus on Preventative Care
Connected health isn’t only about treating existing conditions. Healthy patients, too, can benefit from the increased and enhanced interactions with their providers to keep them better informed about general health trends and to help manage healthy habits. Simple tools like activity trackers, for instance, can help remind patients to exercise. They can also track heart rates, activity levels, sleep patterns, and other statistics that can help monitor their wellness and alert physicians to signs of trouble.
Critical Medication Monitoring
Remote patient monitoring tools can help physicians track patients’ progress when starting new medications and to monitor conditions to track their effectiveness, including looking for signs patients are not taking their medications. Digital tools can also make prescription refills easier and help reduce gaps in medication availability. Connected medication dispensers can provide an additional layer of daily support to remind patients to take their medications and track adherence.
The Key: Ease of Use
There is a key, though: for connected health programs to be effective, they have to be easy to use. That’s why integrating connected technologies patients already use into healthcare processes can be a benefit, so physicians and staff can easily explain their setup and use to patients. Likewise, the patient data these tools generate should be easy to monitor and analyze, which is where having the right connected health platform is important.
These are just some of the ways connected health can encourage patients to become more involved in their own care, which can ultimately also drive benefits for the healthcare community, including allowing physicians to be more efficient, increasing access to healthcare services, driving population health through increased data analytics, building data sets for AI-driven diagnostics, and more.
By bringing healthcare into home environments and empowering patients to be more involved in their own care, providers can not only provide more patient-centric and data-driven care models, but can help meet some of the other broader objectives around healthcare efficiency, costs, and access.
To learn more about how to leverage connected health to turn healthcare into a daily routine, read more here.