The idea that patients should be involved in their own care, and that they do better as a result has been around a while. But it is only relatively recently that technology has been applied to patient engagement across the board. Much of this has been fuelled by patients' growing digital experiences.
Digital enablers across generations
We are all more empowered consumers now, and we want that in healthcare too. More than half of patients (57%) say that they are more engaged in their healthcare than two years ago, seeking out more information, and speaking to healthcare providers more often. A massive 92% say that they would like access to an electronic health record online. The results is that we, as patients, want much more involvement in their healthcare
Millenials in particular, are struggling to navigate the current healthcare system, with more than three quarters in the US believing that it is easier to evaluate a new tech gadget than a doctor. And that it is simpler to find information about a hotel than a healthcare provider. Millenials are the first digital natives, and they expect a digital world. As they flex their economic muscle, expect healthcare to fall in line.
But even older people—the group traditionally least interested in engagement—are staking a claim. Studies have found that over half of those aged over 65 would be prepared to submit real-time healthcare information to their provider, to improve their health. This is a significant proportion, especially as populations around the world are tending to age.
Towards value-based healthcare
Earlier this year SAS interviewed NHS practitioners across the UK on value-based healthcare. Our respondents talked about introducing changes that span clinical practice (introducing integrated care), financing (place-based or pooled budgeting) and administration (innovative contracting). For them, embracing value-based care will help them achieve considerable transformation across the board – in personal value, allocative value and technical value. "Personal value" refers to the delivery of services aligned to what is important to patient - in short, a patient engagement lead approach.
Patient engagement can improve health outcomes, including readmission rates. 84% of doctors believe that patient engagement is a good thing and this ‘belief’ is also backed by hard facts. Engaged patients are less likely to be readmitted or be the subject of medical errors: they have 15% fewer readmissions, and 17% fewer errors. And these, in turn, also have cost implications.
Patient engagement can also be used to streamline and improve clinical trials. Data from connected devices and health apps can be used quickly and efficiently to identify suitable patients for clinical trials. As the process of finding suitable participants can represent up to 70% of the cost of a clinical trial, this may reduce the cost of developing new drugs. Mobile health apps also offer potential for remote monitoring during trials, both streamlining and shortening the time required.
Some providers are worried about the cost of investing in patient engagement, but there is a very definite return on investment in this area. For example, using personalised text messages to remind people about appointments reduces non-attendance, and can save as much as $25,000 per doctor per year.
Lessons from retailers
The combination of in-person consultations, online knowledge sharing, peer support networks and tapping into data collected by wearables can collectively referred to as 'omni-channel'. And retailers have been working across many channels for a while and can offer some guidance. As my colleague Steven Hofmans puts it: "The goal of omni-channel marketing is to deliver the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, taking into account your commercial strategy." Translated to healthcare, this means an integrated approach to healthcare, to deliver personalised services. The application of customer intelligence best practices to drive better patient engagement promises to be a profitable one.
We are tapping views from experts at SAS from healthcare and customer intelligence to dig a little deeper into these ideas around patient engagement. Please join us on Twitter at 2pm UK/3pm CET on Friday 28th October; just follow the #saschat hashtag.