Blake Marggraff, CEO, Epharmix

Blake Marggraff is CEO of Epharmix, a company offering interventions that use automated phone calls or text messages to manage patients’ conditions while collecting disease-specific data.

How patients can embrace e-health and mobile care

How patients can embrace e-health and mobile care
July 7, 2016 AT 6:50 PM

Traditionally, when a patient is sick, his or her visit to the provider usually occurs on the provider’s terms. But the growing availability of mobile technology and digital health tools is changing the paradigm, shifting the power dynamic to the patients’ favor.

The good news is that this technology has the power to increase efficiency, drive financial gain, and improve health outcomes. The challenge, however, is that both providers and patients are struggling to adopt and engage with this new digital healthcare paradigm.

Patient engagement with new technology, like e-health and mobile care, faces several barriers.

• Misalignment of expectation and reality: The vast majority of Baby Boomers say they’re comfortable with smartphones, but their perceived tech-savviness is often misaligned with their current use and proficiency.

• Limitations that providers face: Groups such as federally qualified health centers are accelerating toward 100 percent digitization of clinical tasking and order placement. Still, only about a third of them have and use technology to support patient health outside the clinic.

• Misalignment of financial incentives for change: While providers are increasingly adopting alternative payment models and opting for additional risk to boost value-driven revenue, many digital health tools are neither designed nor proven to generate a firm return on investment.

New technology can benefit everyone, from patients to doctors and hospital administrators, by bridging the gap between better outcomes and more efficient, more involved healthcare.

For example, e-health and mobile care tools allow hospitals to provide care and monitor patients when they’re not in the office. Moreover, digital health tools can help doctors and case managers focus on the patients who need the attention most, when they need it most.

Healthcare technology also has great potential to help hospital administrators drive efficiency and quality. Adapting new technology to meet new metrics, drive costs down, improve outcomes, and reduce readmissions is a must.

How to Drive Patient Adoption of New Technologies

Despite the current barriers, there are three key ways to inspire patient adoption of e-health, mobile care, and other new technologies.

1. Educate both the providers and the patients. Patients are more willing to adopt a new technology if the provider is the one who asks them to — and is dedicated enough to teach them how to use it.

2. Create and assign an internal strike team. This team should discover and implement best practices for staff to adopt new technologies and workflows. Patients cannot be expected to accept change if doctors and staff do not adapt to it first.

3. Keep an open mind. Integrating new technologies and methods into the workflow might be rough at first, so stay flexible. If you’ve given an idea enough time to work and it’s not showing results, try something else. Those who make technology work best for their specific situations will have a competitive advantage over those who have generic integration.

Patient engagement with new technology has been spotty, but driving its adoption is manageable. Hospitals and providers who learn to do so quickly will be the ones to reap the most benefits from healthcare’s technological revolution.