Digital Health’s Role in Improving Patient Engagement
The patient experience has changed in recent years, with more people seeking information online before speaking with medical professionals (HCPs). Digital health is proving to be much more than simply a passing fad; it is a movement that will endure even as we return to conventional, in-person patient care. So how and why is it crucial to promote patient involvement in digital health?
What Is Digital Health?
In order to track, prevent, manage, and treat diseases, share medical information, and promote health and wellness, digital health uses technological platforms in the healthcare industry. It includes a wide range of patient care-related categories, including wearable technology, telehealth, and telemedicine. It also provides mHealth (also known as mobile health). Digital health tools come in a wide variety of forms, including:
- Patient portals
- Biometric sensors
- Virtual physician visits
- Care emails and text messages
- Digital billing and wallets
- Electronic health records (EHRs)
- Social media
Although COVID-19 had a role in the quick adoption of digital health, many organizations were making investments in these cutting-edge technologies even before the pandemic started in order to engage patients throughout the world better.
Digital health tools’ effects on patient engagement
An increasing body of research, according to the CDC, indicates that patients who are more actively involved in their care are more likely to enjoy positive health outcomes. Healthcare professionals are better able to communicate information to patients in a way that improves the comprehension of their condition, and available treatments inspire trust and forge long-lasting good connections with the patient as well as with their community and support network.
HCPs can effectively interact and communicate with patients using digital health in a way that is catered to their preferences. Additionally, these instruments support the monitoring and treatment of a variety of conditions in a method that is often less intrusive and gives the patient greater control. This kind of treatment is frequently referred to as “patient-centric care.”
Digital health technology not only enhances the patient experience but also increases access to healthcare for marginalized populations. For instance, these tools can offer remote access to patients who reside in distant places that are difficult to reach or far from doctors’ offices, ensuring they continue to get high-quality care.
Other factors than geography may make it difficult to get access to quality medical treatment. When creating technology to guarantee that all populations have equal access to health information, it is essential to take into account factors such as a patient’s age, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic situation, and gender, to mention a few.
Another illustration is a 2020 Accenture analysis that revealed that younger patients were more receptive to virtual treatment than older patients. The report polled over 2,000 customers across many nations.
Based on these findings, an HCP is more likely to suggest a younger patient than a more elderly patient for a digital health platform that would allow them to meet with their patient online.
When introducing digital health platforms, there are four things to keep in mind to increase patient engagement.
Life sciences firms must keep enhancing the manner in which these technologies are presented to and used by patients and HCPs as the digital health sector develops new strategies to reach better, serve, support, and engage patients. While there are a number of factors to consider depending on location in which the digital solution is being offered in order to ensure compliance and supervision, here are four universal factors to take into account:
1) Patient-Centric Design
Designing a digital patient engagement tool with the patients in mind is one of the most critical factors in its success. Patients are less likely to use an interface the less user-friendly it is. To ensure the tool’s effectiveness and continuous, long-term use, it is crucial to comprehend the local market, including patient preferences and existing pain spots.
2) An Omnichannel Approach
Adapt to your patients’ needs. It’s critical to consider patients’ preferences while developing digital health tools because there are so many different kinds now available and being created. To learn about new treatment choices, one patient could prefer email communication, but another patient would want to participate in a social media campaign. Be adaptable in how you approach providing patients with pertinent health information, and make sure the information is consistent wherever it may be accessible.
3) Cultural and Multilingual Adaptation
Consider the translation and localization of critical health information for patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) or who are not English-speaking. This is particularly crucial for multinational businesses operating across varied areas and cultures. High-quality, verified translations may boost health literacy, involve more patients, and provide the general people with the power to take charge of their own health.
4) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
When creating or promoting your digital health solution, it’s crucial to take into account all demographics, especially people from different racial and ethnic origins. It is essential to evaluate your technology for accessibility to people with impairments in addition to its usefulness.
Only 25 digital health innovations satisfied the inclusion requirements in one research, which used a literature search of 5,968 articles from five databases. To make sure your digital health product is fair for everyone, regardless of race, handicap, location, spoken language, age, etc., text size, fonts, colours, simplicity of use, and rules and regulations like WCAG 2.0 are all essential.
The future of health care is digital. Digital health platforms allow HCPs to customize patient treatment and reach a broader range of patients as the patient experience continues to become more personalized to increase patient engagement and health outcomes.
Enhancing patient engagement in healthcare through digital platforms
As the Covid-19 epidemic pushed individuals to engage in as little face-to-face interaction as possible, patients all throughout the world are progressively embracing digital health services or telemedicine.
This has fueled the development of digitally enabled patient engagement platforms that promote communication with healthcare professionals while removing the difficulties associated with health literacy and the complexity of current healthcare systems. The patient journey has become more virtual in recent years, and with over 6 billion people using smartphones worldwide (according to Statista), this trend is expected to continue.
It is essential for care providers to have a comprehensive digital presence and a solid engagement platform as healthcare services are redefined through developing healthcare technology. This will allow them to serve their patients with more individualized and meaningful experiences.
Understanding of patient involvement
Patients desire an attentive and open healthcare system where patient involvement is prioritized. In order to offer the treatment without needing to visit patients in person, healthcare practitioners and patients actively collaborate through patient engagement platforms. Healthcare institutions may deliver coordinated, individualized, and easily accessible health services by streamlining operations and utilizing digital technology.
According to a BMC health services study report from 2021, 82 per cent of patients used a mobile device as their primary tool for monitoring their health, and 97 per cent of patients used one for daily chores. This study offers encouraging new information for players exploring the field of digital healthcare. Through smartphones, wearables, telehealth, and telemedicine, healthcare practitioners may share medical information and track, prevent, and cure illnesses while promoting excellent health and wellness.
The individualized treatment that this environment enables contributes to recurrently successful results while reducing problems that are typically challenging and expensive to treat. Platforms for patient interaction have led to improved patient outcomes and cheaper healthcare costs. According to research from Data Bridge Market Research published in 2021, the market for digital health technologies is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.30 per cent from 2021 to 2029, reaching a value of USD 68.89 billion.
It’s all about changing things.
The digital user interface of a patient engagement platform eliminates time-consuming conventional procedures like in-person registration, keeping paper copies of medical data, visiting laboratories for test results, needless stacks of health records to refer to, and even repeated calls for scheduling.
The interface, on the other hand, automates such time-consuming administrative processes, making them simple and straightforward to use. Focusing on a patient-centric online experience is crucial for non-traditional companies if they want to provide the most significant end-user experience. For instance, consultations conducted through video, phone, or messaging can improve patient participation.
Flourishing in the modern norm
The virtual interaction platform must be tightly integrated and interoperable with the facility’s current infrastructure for the digital transformation of healthcare facilities to be successful. The criteria for enhancing interaction platforms and the patient experience have increased thanks to technologies powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning.
These technologies support the acquisition of previously unattainable insights into increasing patient outcomes, comprehending treatment variability, and optimizing diagnostics and care operations. Their inclusion in the engagement platforms guarantees a high degree of patient interaction, which is increasingly a crucial component of the healthcare sector. Achieving a high degree of patient participation aids in early illness detection, avoids re-hospitalization, accelerates patient payments, and enhances adherence to treatment regimens.
All industries are adopting technology and using it to streamline deliveries, automate operations, and shorten time to market in order to remain competitive. In the long term, this will turn out to be even more helpful for the healthcare industry. Traditional healthcare delivery must be transformed in order not just to survive but thrive in the new normal since it is no longer an option. This will ensure that patients receive high-quality treatment.