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Not all that long ago, healthcare was essentially a one-way process. Healthcare providers prescribed treatment to patients, but patients played a very minimal role in their own treatment.
One of the major healthcare trends over the last several years has been an initiative to boost patient engagement -- the idea of more people actively participating in their own care -- and make healthcare a two-way collaboration between patients and providers. Patient engagement technology can help move this effort along.
Although tech typically plays a central role in patient engagement, there isn’t a definitive standard for involving patients. Instead, each healthcare provider engages patients in its own way, using one or more of the available technologies.
The patient engagement technology most often used by healthcare providers is a web portal. Portals tend to differ with regard to scope and capability from one organization to the next, but they typically provide patients with a way of accessing their own health information.
A patient might, for example, use a portal to review post-release care instructions, view lab results, schedule follow-up appointments or order prescription refills. Some healthcare providers integrate video conferencing capabilities into their patient portals, thereby providing patients with an easy way of speaking directly with clinicians using telemedicine.
Patient engagement technology plus education
Some providers use portals as a tool to help educate patients. A provider may offer a patient text or videos pertaining to the diagnosis, care or lifestyle adjustments. A portal may also connect a patient with a community of others who are suffering from a similar ailment.
Still other providers use patient portals as a tool for increasing revenues. A portal can advise patients based on their age, risk factors and other considerations that it is time to be screened for a particular condition. Such mechanisms may also advise patients that they are due for physical exams.
Wearable technology, such as wristband health monitors, have similar potential to increase patient engagement efforts.