The face of healthcare is changing. One of the more important changes seen in recent years is a shift in the concept of service. What is the focus of professional service in healthcare settings?
In 2017 we are all talking about patient-centered care. But is it a new idea that the patient is the focus of the healthcare service? Not a new idea. We would all agree that a physician working with a patient has that patient in their focus. This is a concept of professional quality of the healthcare service rather than how the patient perceived the service. The current healthcare system has traditionally focused on primarily treating acute pain/suffering and the many illnesses/conditions we call medical emergencies. Now in the last years of healthcare costs and questions, we are to broaden the approach of the healthcare system to now to have more emphasis on treating individuals, not diseases. This is the increasingly complex presentation of chronic disease in the individual. Given the increasing prevalence of behavior-induced chronic health conditions, this emerging system of healthcare is requiring other services to be increased: screenings for prevention, education at home and self-behavioral changes for effective management. Improving the health behaviors of individual healthcare consumers is key and healthcare IT tools can support sustainable behavior changes in your patients; again it is all about them and how they feel you are changing your health.
Patient Engagement and Self-Activation: Improve Health Behaviors and Outcomes
Patients who are active in and engaged with their own care are more likely to achieve sustainable improvements in health behaviors, which in turn, has beneficial effects on health outcomes. This statement is borne out by a growing body of evidence, including a review, titled What The Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Health Outcomes And Care Experiences; Fewer Data On Costs and published in the February 2013 edition of Health Affairs. That review examined the relationship between patient activation – defined as the skills and confidence that equip patients to become actively engaged in their health care – and health outcomes.
This study state shows that the more highly-active the patients the more they are likely to engage in improved health behaviors striving to keep good behaviors: more healthy eating habits, regular exercise and improved lifestyle attitudes to avoid health-damaging behavior, such as smoking, alcohol abuse, and illegal drug use. Also of note, other medically relevant actions such as remembering to keep their regular checkups, attend the scheduled preventive screenings and immunizations recommended are increasingly predictable behavior among those highly-activated patients.
Additionally, studies of patients across a range of conditions and economic backgrounds show that chronically ill patients with high activation levels are more likely to adhere to advice regarding treatment, self-monitoring and preventive programs of care. Finally, there are more and more studies demonstrating that these improved health behaviors that result in significant improvements in health outcome are linked to greater patient activation. Supporting better health behaviors are worthwhile; use the full integration of information about your patient - and their habits. This is ideally available to be easily reviewed and reported from within your IT healthcare platform.
Healthcare Technology Can Improve Patient Engagement and Activation
A complete healthcare IT platform online offers a variety of effective tools to encourage patient engagement and activation. Patient portal software, for example, which is an integral part of a quality healthcare IT system, typically offers a number of patient engagement/activation solutions.
Patient portal software gives healthcare consumers access to their own health records via online personal e-files. They can view that file at any hour of the day or night to track their own health status, test results, and progress. They can also upload their own information to that file, including data from health monitoring devices, home measurement of markers like blood pressure or blood glucose levels, and their own observations related to treatments, lifestyle interventions, health changes or other concerns
Individualized health education, another feature of quality patient portal software, gives healthcare consumers online access to information and resources that are tailored to their specific health issues and risk factors. Communication tools, such as secure text-messaging and online notes, offer more frequent and efficient interactions between clients and their providers. Reminder features can support clients in maintaining good health behaviors, such as taking medications regularly, renewing prescriptions, completing self-monitoring tasks, or scheduling appointments for preventive or chronic care. Online appointment management and prescription renewals can make these tasks easier.
These and other features of a comprehensive healthcare IT platform work to support and empower individuals, encouraging them to see themselves as valuable members of their own healthcare team. They also support the development of solid healthcare relationships. Both of these points are essential to promoting the high level of patient engagement/activation that leads to better health behaviors and improved outcomes.