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Patient Engagement Technology Has Outside Influence

By Ryan Mcaskill

A new study found that patient engagement technology is coming from outside the traditional vendors.

One of the biggest challenges for hospitals and practices is getting engage in their care. When properly done, it creates shared responsibility between patients, practitioners and administrators for improved quality of the care received.

The ideal version of patient engagement involves individuals and caregivers in every step of the process, whether it be with treatment, training or financial support. It is often more hands on for patients and offers a way for them to better participate in their care. When patients are engaged, they are more likely to following treatment guidelines, keep appointments and monitor various health factors.

One of the major ways that the healthcare industry has been able to improve patient engagement in recent years, is through the use of mobile technology. However, not everyone is jumping on board the trend.

According to a study by Chilmark Research, despite the growing trend of mobile technology for patient engagement, many providers are doing the “bare minimum” in this arena. The report focused on clinical applications and engagement technology and found that the basic patient portal, which is often tied to the electronic health record (EHR), still serves as the foundation for a majority of digital patient interactions.

The healthcare executives, clinicians and technology suppliers that are firmly planted in the provider space expressed a mixed market for new approaches to patient engagement. Some had yet to fully adopt even the basic patients portals, while others had designed and executed pilot programs that centers on smart technology like smartphones and tablets.

“It is clear that patient engagement is taking a backseat to other enterprise priorities, such as defining clinician networks, building analytics capabilities, mastering risk-based contracting, and making other preparations for effective population-based health management,” the report reads.

Naveen Rao, the author of the study, said that a majority of the marketplace is “operating at a standoff.” The provider organizations are relying on existing vendors to lead the way on new engagement tools. This shows that more companies are reactive and not proactive when it comes to patient engagement needs.

He also said that the marketplace is changing as more organizations outside of the traditional medical device vendors are getting into the space. These can be seen with the increased health focus of companies like Apple, Google and Samsung.

"The more innovative products – the mobile apps, cloud-based care plans, remote-monitoring plays – are coming from outside traditional legacy vendors' purview. While some of the bigger vendors are showing signs of updating their products, we expect to see most legacy vendors follow a buy rather than build strategy to address market needs more rapidly."

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