“Joseph, a patient who was operated for varicose veins, returned home after two weeks of post-surgical treatment at the hospital. He is completely cured and is now back to the normal way of life with the support provided by the healthcare, thanks to the present day technology.”
Today’s world is technically more advanced with the use of information technology in all walks of life. Healthcare to the patients is no exception to it. The role of healthcare technology in providing improvised healthcare, reducing the costs of services, and decreasing the readmissions is gaining importance.
India spends only about 4.2% of its GDP on healthcare while the US spends around 18% on healthcare. A medical research study was conducted in South-east India in 2013 and was published in Lancet, which caught the eye of the US to implement the policies in their health system to reduce their expenses. India Diabetes Research Foundation has done their part of service in preventing the diseases and saving the country from bankruptcy. Their sending of text messages to the patients at risk for diabetes helped to prevent diabetes in the patients by 36%.
The need gave rise to a new concept called “Patient Engagement.” The “teaming-up” of the physicians and healthcare professionals and the patients to improve the health of the patients is referred as patient engagement. It may include communication with the patient through messages, use of websites and interactive games.
Role of Patient Engagement
The patient engagement keeps the patients and the physicians on track benefiting both in different ways. It provides the services like:
- Reduction in the treatment errors
- Reduced labor and care costs
- Assessing of the medical records
- Personalized health solutions
- Providing one-to-one communication
Ways to Provide Patient Engagement
Patient engagement can be achieved by providing financial health, health management, home health and social and behavior monitoring of the patient.
Financial health: The healthcare provider can provide patient engagement by helping the patients in providing information on financial schemes, policies, reimbursement plans and so on.
Health Management: The health of the patient can be managed by the use of portals, messages, and patient-generated health data.
Home health: Home health assistance is given by providing the patient with education and offering remote monitoring of the patient health and indulging in telehealth.
Social and Behavior Monitoring:
Social and behavioral monitoring of the patients is done with the help of social media like Twitter, Facebook and several others of that type; mobiles; games and wearables.
Athena health uses mobiles to help patients use their patient portals to monitor their health. By the use of mobiles in providing patient engagement, the patients are benefited with satisfied service which is less administrative monitored providing greater revenue profits.
Technology in Patient Engagement
A survey that has been conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health at the 2014 World Economic Forum, which estimates the amount the country, is going to lose by 2030. This leads to a great economic loss.
This ushers a need to look into the medical services and provide complete quality care to the patient which fosters best results as well saves huge amounts of revenue. The technology is being exploited to provide best services at reduced costs to the customers.
Technology is fast developing in India. The country has two faces; it has a host of tech hubs like Bangalore, and it also has rural landscape which is riddled with inadequate infrastructure. A man in the rural area may not have access to clean drinking water, but has a mobile phone for sure.
New Phase for Healthcare:
- Digital start-ups
The country expanding rapidly over the decade with its GDP increased, smartphone invasion and with more than half a billion population of the country flourished with the young blood; there is a road to look for digital health start-ups.
Table 1: List of 8 Digital start-ups
Information technology companies like Wipro and Cognizant provide patient engagement services.
Cognizant Technologies: It involves in Gamification, Analytics of patient care, and is involved in real-time virtual coaching in India.
- Social Media for Patient Engagement
Use of Facebook, Twitter and other such apps on the laptop is increasing day by day. These social media are becoming the “connecting bridge” between the physicians and patients to discuss and share the disease condition, the treatment, and related information. The entry of the physicians and other healthcare-related professionals into the discussion is relatively slow but is gaining velocity and relevance. Examples of this kind include Mayo clinic center for social media and Vanderbilt online.
3.mHealth – Technology helping the patients in care
“We don’t adopt cellphones. We marry them,”- By B.J. Fogg, 2009
The mobiles are used by the people for many purposes more than a phone – for gaining knowledge regarding a disease and for conversing their doubts with the healthcare provider. This is referred to as mHealth technology.
The patients prefer to use mobile apps rather than the written prescriptions. Patients who are making use of mHealth technology are more likely to keep in track their health and follow the physician’s advise.
There are many mobile apps that assist in mhealth in India:
- Remote Monitoring
It would be intriguing if there were a device which reminds us to take a tablet at that moment, a device which records our blood pressure, a device that lets us know the time to take insulin. It is now a reality with remote monitoring. The wireless remote patient monitoring is driving the country through milestones in the healthcare sector by the use of digital signal processing, image processing, biomedical components, and algorithms.
Several companies have started remote monitoring. For instance, A3 Remote Monitoring Technology- an IIT Bombay company and Portea Medical Private Limited in association with American Megatrends India Private Limited (AMI) are providing remote monitoring.
A3 Remote Monitoring Technology:
Anywhere Anytime Access (A3) monitors the ECG of the patients with its device A3.CritiView Series. It also has other devices like A3.Criti.Confer, A3.Criti.360 and A3.Ambulatory.
A3.Criti.Confer- Enables wireless audio/video transmission with its patient’s side-units.
Portea Medical Private Limited:
Portea Medical Private Limited has associated with the American Megatrends India Private Limited (AMI) and provides personalized service to the home care patients. It is using AMI’s BOLT health monitoring device which is roughly the size of an iPhone to collect statistics from blood pressure, temperature, and other parameters.
- Wearable Devices
Wearable devices are those which are artlessly worn by the patients to engage their health. These are connected to the medical devices which convoke information and send it to the backend systems. These backend systems capture historical health and behavioral data of the patients.
The market value for wearables is increasing at a rapid rate. Globally, the market value for the wearables is expected to reach 12,642 million US dollars by 2018 from the value of 5166 million US dollars during 2014.
Some wearable devices are
- Apple’s health kit,
- Samsung’s Simband
- Google’s Google glass
Table 2: List of Companies Producing Wearable Devices
“Motivation and emotion can be modified in Game Play to improve patient behavior and health.”
Gamified care management is gaining popularity in recent times. Healthcare players are looking forward to hew the healthcare cover costs. Games quaff metrics-oriented behavioral changes in the patients.
By gamification, instant motivation with long term benefits and relations are being built up. The impact which gamification has on the patients is
- Sportiveness– Humor helps to cure the deep-seated diseased conditions of the patients.
- Right persuasion– Badges, points, rewards help to motivate the patients to focus on improvement of their health.
- Improved health– The patients achieve their most needed task of improved health.
Gamification Market Statistics
The M2 Research conducted a statistical analysis for the games which are developed for entertainment and health oriented. The investments for these games in the market are estimated to rise to $ 2.8 billion by 2016 from the present status of $ 500 million dollars in 2013.
Some companies which are developing games for patient engagement are:
- CogCubed – Memory games
- RespondWell – To enhance physical activity
- CoheroHealth – To asthma patients
- SuperBetter – To provide motivation
HealthVault is a consumer-controlled online platform developed by the Microsoft, for gathering and sharing health information. The information about the health condition of the patient can be gathered at home, doctor’s place, gym or work place. As HealthVault is an open platform, it facilitates for sharing of the patient’s home device readings to the providers thus helping them to intervene and provide appropriate service when the readings cross a threshold value.
The tools are being developed for the purpose of facilitating patient engagement by the innovative use of technology. Some tools which foster patient engagement for better health can be as below:
Table 3: List of Tools for patient engagement:
These tools as mentioned are proving to be very useful to the patients, and the healthcare providers.
Patient portals are a ground for a secure and open discussion of the health related issues of the patient with the physician. The portals have a secure access passwords and user ids through which the interaction of a patient can proceed with a physician. The portals should be able to evaluate the clinical data of the patient to provide treatment which is featured on nationally recognized protocols. Bridge patient portal, Practo.com are a few examples.
Patient engagement is a crucial topic to focus on and deal with. A patient who is engaged by a healthcare professional is more focused and healthier than the one who has not received any. The patient satisfaction and wellbeing are the primary issues for a healthcare provider. The explosion costs of the patients on the health related issues can be cut down.
- Thielst CB. Social media: ubiquitous community and patient engagement. Front Health Serv Manage. 2011 Winter;28(2):3-14.
- http://www.silicus.com/healthcare/healthcare-gamification -development.html