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March 2017, Vol. 5 No. 2

Hospitals prescribe engagement for better patient-doctor relationship

Treating patients more like customers. It's a simple concept that hospitals find more practical, thanks to the availability of patient engagement tools and techniques borrowed from the domain of the retail industry. The challenge is for health IT professionals to take the doctor's bedside manner to a whole new level with technologies that encourage patients to have a more active role in their own healthcare, feel empowered to make health-related decisions in cooperation with healthcare providers and, as a result, develop a long-lasting, trusting patient-doctor relationship -- much like a retail customer develops loyalty for a particular product, brand or company.

The cover story of March's Pulse examines modified versions of technologies and tactics typically employed by retailers and now producing beneficial results in the healthcare industry because they focus on patient needs. Some of these practices include engagement tools that let patients access health information from their hospital room and allow caregivers to remotely monitor patients at home after they've been discharged from the hospital. In another feature, we look at future patient engagement capabilities in healthcare systems, such as a single interface for all points of care, mobile-first communication, full use of artificial intelligence, access to real-time interactive coaching and clinicians' notes, and telehealth for post-acute and behavioral care. Also in this issue, we explore the role engagement technologies like customer relationship management and the internet of things can play in improving the patient-doctor relationship and the overall quality of healthcare.

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