You can technically practice medicine without caring about the health of your patients. It wouldn’t make you a good doctor though.
However, years of experience tell you some patients simply don’t put forth as much effort toward their personal health as they should.
So how can you incentivize patient wellness? How can you convince patients to be more involved with their personal health?
Technology can enhance participation in any number of ways across industries. Take education technology, for instance, where the flipped classroom model has improved student involvement by having them comb through assignments at school with their teachers after having participated in web-based lessons at home.
Patient portals give patients flexibility. The capacity to schedule and review medical appointments and control one’s healthcare data empowers patients, giving them the impression they aren’t just pedestrians of their own health. They own it.
Consider mobile apps like Nike Plus for the iPhone, or Massive Health’s The Eatery. These apps promote fitness and health to users by engaging them directly, ascribing purpose to patient wellness tasks in the process. Results are shared via patients’ respective social networks, where they earn and publish merit-based scores.
Provided they aren’t trivialized by gimmicky incentives, gamified mobile apps are powerful tools to drive engagement patient wellness. Games in the Zynga vein are especially useful.
The minds behind Farmville have crafted their own take on user experience, designing games where the emotional impact of failing to act is more powerful than feelings of having proactively benefited.
Tools ready for use
Let’s begin with some tools you have at your disposal.
First, odds are you can count on a creative staff member or two to help with presenting medical regimens in a slightly more aesthetically pleasing, user friendly and personalized fashion.
Doing so will give patients confidence, and it’ll likely incentivize care-based decision-making. This is part of what Wired writer and personalized medicine expert Thomas Goetz calls the “feedback loop.”
Also, health IT is here to save the day, as usual. Using an EHR to streamline your workflow not only gives you more time to interact with patients personally, but also puts more functions like e-prescribing at your fingertips. A SureScripts study earlier this year showed prescription delivery rates are as high as 81.8 percent, and 76.5 percent of those are actually picked up. Regimen compliance is a stepping stone to patient wellness.
Lastly, don’t forget to encourage patients. It’s no wonder the Center for Advancing Health reports one in five American adults do not have a primary care physician. It’s important to get to know a patient and set entertaining goals based on his/her hobbies or interests.
A little bit of healthy competition among patients goes a long way as well, sometimes, provided the patient in question has the personality for it. Competitive types can benefit from platforms like California’s HopeLab, which hopes to combat the child obesity epidemic with their Zamzee activity-tracking device.
As healthcare methods become more complex, more avenues for engagement open up and patient wellness improves. Your techniques will evolve, as will your patients’ capacity to keep up with more complex medical information. Keep your ear to the ground.
How do you push toward patient wellness at your practice?
Ahmed Mori is a content writer specializing in meaningful use certification, EHRs and mHealth. He enjoys researching and reporting on innovative healthcare technologies. Read his work on PowerYourPractice and the CareCloud blog.