With the rise of COVID-19 in 2020, healthcare systems and providers were forced to cope with the adverse situation and adapt to the new challenges that came with it. A lot of the focus was directed towards scaling up hospitals’ and clinics’ capacities in order to effectively accommodate the increasing patient influx. However, the pandemic also led to accelerated advancements in new methods for patient treatments, diagnosis, examination, monitoring, and even clinical trials.
As the spread of the novel coronavirus took an upward trajectory, social distancing protocols forced healthcare providers to look for new ways to engage with their patients without jeopardizing their health and wellbeing. The healthcare industry experienced a growth in the use of telemedicine and patient engagement technology that completely transformed the way we view physician-patient interactions.
Some of these changes may continue to persist post-pandemic as well and can be used to make substantive changes that will improve patient engagement and experience, driving the need for more affordable and accessible care. In this article, we explore the ways technology is being used to help physicians improve patient outcomes and engage with them in the new normal.
What is patient engagement technology?
Patient engagement technology is a set of advanced tools and digital solutions that can be used to assist patients in taking a more active role in their healthcare planning. This way, patients are more proactively engaged with their health and make more autonomous decisions regarding their health and wellbeing.
Patient engagement is an important part of the overall healthcare process as it promotes a higher degree of patient satisfaction while improving patient outcomes significantly. Those who take a more active role in their health get to know more about their conditions and symptoms and thus tend to take better care of themselves which results in better overall wellness outcomes.
Growth of patient engagement technology
An increasing number of healthcare providers across the globe are adopting patient engagement technology in their practices to bridge the gap created during the pandemic. The integration of these technologies is only expected to grow even more as the healthcare industry moves from a volume-based to a value-based reimbursement system to reduce the costs of healthcare without compromising on the quality of healthcare delivered.
While the investment into patient engagement technology has numerous benefits and is expected to pay dividends for both patients and healthcare providers, several obstacles such as high investment costs, lack of healthcare IT infrastructure, and data security concerns limit the ability of the patient engagement technology market to accelerate innovation.
Several different patient engagement technologies, such as wearable devices, resource libraries, and mobile health techniques, are rapidly emerging as powerful tools to improve patient engagement and enhance patient monitoring and treatment. These technologies allow healthcare providers to expand their field of work and reach more remote locations and provide proper healthcare and engage the patients in their care.
It is important to note that the most significant factor in promoting successful patient engagement is an enhanced patient experience. Patients only trust the new and advanced systems of healthcare when they feel that they can benefit from the convenience that these technologies offer. Since patient engagement technology is centered on enhancing patient satisfaction levels, patients are progressively opening up to them.
According to a Deloitte global health care consumer survey undertaken in 2019, 77% of the patients in the U.S were completely satisfied with the care they received on their virtual visits or consultation with a physician. This explains why the global patient engagement technology market, which was valued at approximately $11.7 billion in 2019, is anticipated to rise by $14.2 billion in 2024.
Benefits of patient engagement technology
Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in patient engagement solutions in the healthcare industry for the wide range of benefits that it offers not only to patients but to providers as well in bolstering their practice. Here are a few benefits of using this technology in the healthcare industry.
Enhanced patient outcomes
As discussed earlier, increased patient engagement is at the very core of good quality healthcare. While there is no concrete evidence to support the extent of improved healthcare outcomes from increased patient engagement, early studies have shown promising results.
A study divided 60,185 patients into two groups where one received usual healthcare and the other received healthcare services by professionals who were in frequent contact with them. The patients who received the enhanced approach displayed much better outcomes, reduced medical costs, and lower inpatient admission rates. This suggests that when patients are more engaged in their healthcare journey, it enhances their quality of care and self-esteem.
Ultimately, this goes to show that the integration of patient engagement technology can play a key role in improving and expanding healthcare delivery while also minimizing the risk of contracting the virus.
Reduced operational costs
One of the biggest advantages an integration of patient engagement solutions offers is its ability to drastically reduce the costs of healthcare operations.
Healthcare leaders are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to cut down on costs without compromising on the quality of care that they provide. Modern tools such as healthcare apps boost a practice’s operational efficiency and help reduce administrative costs such as that of medical reports and administrative staffing.
Additionally, the increased accessibility to mobile healthcare and technology automates many administrative tasks and eliminates the costs associated with in-person visits. Patient readmission rates reduce dramatically and patients don’t even have to visit the hospital for minor issues. They can simply consult a physician with just a few clicks from the comfort of their homes.
Radical advancements in patient engagement technology, such as video conferencing tools, resource libraries, online scheduling, patient info portals, and health tracking devices make the healthcare process much more efficient and streamline a practice’s workflows.
Patients have the ease of accessing their healthcare reports and results all from a single portal much faster. Online scheduling portals allow patients to easily book appointments without incurring any errors. They also connect with their physicians relatively faster, which in turn boosts patient satisfaction levels.
Payment management tools speed up the payment process and reduce compliance issues. Health apps such as Fitbit allow physicians to directly download their patients’ health data from their devices and provide care outside a clinical setting. As these advanced systems get more and more robust as time progresses, they create more opportunities to optimize your workflows and enhance operational efficiency. This, in turn, accelerates the delivery of healthcare and makes way for a personalized healthcare approach.
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More people are adopting patient engagement technology into their practice to tailor an efficient and meaningful approach to healthcare and enhance the delivery of the service they provide.
Moreover, as part of Revenue Cycle Management, several front and back-office functions are automated and healthcare providers are able to access accurate data analysis. This enables them to improve patient engagement based on data-driven insights.