Patient Engagement — Short-lived Buzzword or Long Term Necessity?

Traditionally, the role of the patient has been that of a passive recipient of healthcare, subordinate to the caregiver or healthcare professional. However, the growth of the internet and mobile technologies is causing a transformation in the patient-caregiver dynamic, as patients increasingly demand a greater role in the management of their health.

The ground reality is quite different. On an average, people with chronic diseases take only 50% of the prescribed doses of medications and 50% of patients do not follow referral advice and 75% do not keep follow-up appointments. 80% of mobile health applications are abandoned after two weeks.

How then, can the industry develop a system of patient engagement that is both welcomed by patients and also translates into benefits for all stakeholders? We believe the path to patient engagement lies in an approach that makes the patient-provider interaction more proactive, personalized, co-created, engaged and in real time. Engagement should be continuous across all phases of care — pre-care, point of care and post-care.

The approach should aim to remedy the problems in the current state of patient engagement. While IT is a growing part of patient engagement, service providers must find a way to engage with patients without becoming too intrusive. Patients should drive the frequency of interaction with the tool and not the other way around. Providers must adopt practices such as psychographic or demographic segmentation from consumer industries adept at engagement and leverage multiple social media and digital channels to drive effective bidirectional communication. Interoperability will allow both patients and healthcare professionals to easily access patient data across the entire process of treatment, resulting in not only better patient engagement, but also lower treatment costs and superior outcomes.

A new model of care is emerging — one centered on patient engagement and driven by economic factors, new legislation and consumer demand. It is difficult to overstate the benefits of patient engagement. While various stakeholders have taken steps towards promoting better patient engagement, much more needs to be done before the term transmutes from a buzzword to a stable concept that will stand the test of time.

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