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Mobile Applications Help Boost Patient Engagement

By Ryan Mcaskill

A new study found that 66 percent of Americans would use a mobile application to manage health-related issues.

Getting patients to engage in their healthcare can be a challenge. Once they leave the doctor’s office or hospital, physicians need to assume that they will follow instructions to improving their health and following post-treatment instructions. As any medical professional will tell you, that is not always the case.

Patient engagement is critical as the push from fee-for-service to value-based care increases. If more individuals are taking an active role in their care - following treatments, knowing medical history, tracking symptoms - it is more likely that they will stay out of the hospital, be informed in healthcare decision making and avoid unnecessary tests and procedures.

Getting patients engaged is easier said then done. However, the use of mobile devices and applications could be a gateway to improve the current outlook. Research firm Kelton and Makovsky Health released its fifth annual “Pulse of Online Health” survey and found that digital tools could be used to improve management of personal health.

The study found that 66 percent of Americans would use a mobile application to manage health-related issues. Unsurprisingly, and as has been reported before, millennials are more likely to embrace the latest technology. The report states millennials are twice as likely to express interest in using mobile technology to manage health when compared to those 66 and older.

Overall there is growing interest in mobile applications comes down to a proactive desire for information, functionality and interactivity. The top interests are tracking nutrition (47 percent), medication reminders (46 percent), tracking symptoms (45 percent) and tracking physical activity (44 percent).

It was also discovered that patients that have chronic conditions including gastrointestinal conditions, obesity, pulmonary conditions and cardiovascular issues are more willing to embrace mobile devices to track health and communicate with a physician.

"Smartphones and wearables are driving a major behavioral shift in consumer health and wellness," Gil Bashe, executive vice president, Makovsky Health, said in the report. "Beyond a desire to speed access to information, consumers are using technology to engage proactively in managing their health – and a personality of 'search' is influenced by specific medical conditions. We also see stark differences between Millennials and those 66 and older in this year's survey. Savvy health marketers will apply these insights to engage and involve patients in more meaningful, customized ways."

Mobile devices are going to play a major role in the lifestyles of individuals in the years to come, powered by the younger generation. Healthcare organizations that are able to tap into that trend will be able to better engage with patients and push value-based care further.

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