December 9, 2020
How Chronic Disease Management Software Improves Patient Engagement
Digital Health is dramatically assisting in closing the gap on patient engagement.
When it comes to chronic disease management and preventative care, telehealth and telemedicine are playing an increasingly vital role. Not only do these digital health services have proven benefits for the health and wellbeing of illness sufferers—but they’re also in many ways more convenient than in-person visits.
Satisfaction rates are high: in one survey, 99% of telehealth patients were satisfied with the care they received. Other surveys have reported similarly positive findings.
Improving technology and Medicaid reimbursements for telehealth mean the foundations have been laid for telehealth to take off. More and more people are benefiting from digital healthcare. Yet, despite the advantages, engagement is still an issue.
“Even with the efforts of healthcare providers and staff, patients often need help accomplishing their efforts to maintain their health outside the medical office setting, and gaps in care are common,” states healthcare researcher Shayna L. Henry, PhD explains.
Patient engagement is crucial in chronic disease management. When patients are informed and engaged in their care program, they’re more likely to adhere to treatment plans, ask questions to better understand their illness, and self-manage their health, all of which can prevent the illness from getting worse.
Patients and Digital Health: What’s Standing in the Way?
Change is never easy, and transitioning from in-person visits to online healthcare is no different. There are lots of reasons engagement rates could be low, including inadequate technology, concerns about security, or a simple reluctance to use the tools and tech.
Luckily, most of these barriers can be overcome with the right approach. However, before that happens, healthcare providers need to be informed about the issues so they know exactly what to talk about when onboarding patients.
As the diagram above shows, missing face-to-face interaction, technical issues, and low quality of care are the most commonly-cited negative aspects of telemedicine. These are real concerns, and engagement rates will always remain stagnant if not addressed.
Why Patient Engagement Is Important
Digital health brings an array of benefits to patients and providers alike, but the benefits for chronic illness sufferers are distinct:
- Earlier diagnosis due to shorter wait times, greater access to specialists, and an easier way of connecting with an expert
- Less travel, clinic visits, and hospital stays, improving quality of life for sufferers
- Lower exposure to airborne viruses (such as Covid) due to less time spent in waiting rooms around other patients
- Greater support and guidance from specialists, helping patients adhere to medication routines and healthy lifestyle practices
A 2016 Journal of Medical Internet Research study reveals that digital healthcare solutions such as apps can help patients maintain healthy habits and improve the quality of their chronic care management.
“This type of intervention could address non-adherence to lifestyle recommendations by providing frequent reminders, motivational support and prompts to action, as well as timely access and feedback to relevant health information while making patient-provider communication much easier,” the researchers suggested.
How to Increase Digital Healthcare Engagement
If patients and practitioners are to get the most out of the technology, they need to know how to use it as fully and confidently as possible. Here’s how to ensure engagement is high.
Promote the Benefits
It takes time, effort, and a leap of faith to use new technology. If patients or practitioners don’t perceive value in it, they won’t use it. Education plays a key part in getting patients to engage with the technology. A silver lining to the catastrophic Covid pandemic has been that telehealth adoption rates have increased significantly as many patients and healthcare providers have been forced to use it out of necessity. Although this has sped up adoption rates, there’s still a long way to go—and seeing the benefits first-hand is key.
“The definition of a ‘face-to-face interaction’ is going to change,” suggests Eric Wicklund, editor at mHealthNews. “Once they [patients] see how easily it is done, and how they can still have a conversation with a doctor and how their questions can be solved in this manner, I think that’s going to ease a lot of their concerns about missing a face-to-face consult.”
Show Patients How to Use the Technology
Providers must guide users through the logistics of the digital health platform, from logging in, to booking appointments, to learning how to use more sophisticated technologies like Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) tools. This is especially important among older patients with computer anxiety, which could prevent them from fully benefiting.
RPM often involves the patient engaging with a range of devices, including apps and wearable sensors (Image Source).
Choose the Right Provider
Technology has come a long way and investing in the right digital health solution will have a big impact on engagement. Not all telehealth providers are created equal, which is why it’s important to shop around. Here are some important things to consider when choosing a digital healthcare solution:
- A modern-looking interface that feels intuitive to use and works across different devices and mobile
- Technology that has current and rigorous security features, as well as the necessary certifications
- The provider should offer good customer support
- It’s accessible, with options that make it easy for people with hearing or sight impairments to use
- It’s comprehensive, with a wide range of practical features patients and practitioners can benefit from
- A comprehensive training process must be in place to help patients, practitioners, and organizations learn how to use the platform
How ChronWell Can Help
Our digitized care management system can be tailored to your unique needs. Our proven approach increases your touchpoints, driving better outcomes as we treat the patients’ needs as a whole—from their health and diet to a multitude of behavioral, psychological, and environmental factors. We also use data analytics to reach and impact patients in the most meaningful and effective ways.
If you’d like to find out more about setting up a CCM plan, speak to one of our experts today.
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