Healthcare organizations can address 4 specific failures with affordable patient engagement technology
The Commonwealth Fund recently reported that healthcare in the U.S. ranks last among 11 high-income countries, based on five domains: access to care, care process, administrative efficiency, equity and health outcomes.
Among the many failures and challenges highlighted, four have great potential for improvement, using available, affordable technologies to educate and engage healthcare consumers to be full partners in their care.
Equitable access to healthcare is a multi-faceted challenge. But many healthcare providers here are tackling the problem with patient education and engagement technology that extends their reach deeper into urban, rural and even more remote locations. Targeted email and text messages, information and reminders have helped more patients effectively manage their self-care—without struggling to find the time, transportation or even funds for additional in-person appointments. Even better, the technology’s remote patient monitoring capabilities immediately communicate critical patient information and alerts to providers, shortening response times, improving health outcomes and reducing costs.
The best care is delivered easily and seamlessly without barriers to access. Patient engagement technology is streamlining and scaling operations to provide better, more timely information to patients when and where they need it:
- Mobile technology connects more people than ever before, with an estimated 97% of Americans owning at least one mobile device.
- Smart technology offers the most compelling and immersive experience for patients using their preferred channel of communication, whether by email, SMS text message or app.
- Automated enrollment removes administrative burdens to seamlessly bring care information to entire patient populations.
- Remote patient monitoring empowers providers to target their efforts to those who need it most.
Maternal and Infant Well-being
Beyond the more general challenges, the Commonwealth Fund report specifically calls out maternal healthcare for its critical role in reducing maternal and infant mortality. Maternal mortality has risen steadily in the U.S. for the last 25 years, while infant mortality has decreased at an unacceptably slow rate.
Patient education is a powerful tool in this effort. Messages and resources delivered at specific points in a pregnancy alert patients to important milestones, actions, preparations and precautions that help ensure the well-being of mother and baby alike. Remote monitoring of conditions such as gestational hypertension and diabetes help maintain patients’ vigilant attention to their care, while alerting doctors and other healthcare providers to any red-flag symptoms.
The report also highlights the fact that while ranking last, the U.S. spends far more of its gross domestic product on healthcare, noting that, “Smarter spending – not more spending – is required to achieve better health system performance.”
Little has advanced the affordability and accessibility of technology as the evolution from hosted to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions. As operations, storage, security and maintenance are centralized with the SaaS vendor, the resulting reduction or elimination of hardware requirements has driven down costs. And that has made patient engagement technology more affordable and accessible to a wide range of healthcare organizations—from insurers and health systems to hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and private practices.
Patient engagement is proven to drive down care costs across a number of measures, from reduced hospital admissions and shorter length of stay to fewer health complications and better outcomes. With its enhanced healthcare benefits and reduced administrative and care costs, an investment in patient engagement technology easily qualifies as “smarter spending.”
U.S. healthcare requires urgent attention. Equitable patient access, reduced administrative burdens, and maternal and infant well-being are all important to a strong, thriving system. A smart investment in available and affordable patient engagement technology is a powerful prescription for immediate results.
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