Bringing value in a new world of healthcare will require engaging both patients and providers into recognizing patterns for enhanced clinical engagements. New medical technology tools can expedite the exchange of information and enhance patient engagement. In this excerpt from Frost & Sullivan’s Executive MindXchange Chronicles: Medical Technologies 2015, Dana Webster of Roche Diagnostics discusses the importance of meaningful discussion between patients and providers and how technology can help.
Patient Engagement and Adherence: New Technologies, New Opportunities
Dana Webster, Marketing Manager, Medical Values, Roche Diagnostics
The top 1% of patients in the US account for about 25% of all health expenditures, Webster said. The current system relies on younger, seemingly healthy patients to cover the costs of those who need more care. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t incentivize people to get preventive assessments.
The industry must make adjustments at all levels to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape, changing customers, and more informed patients. According to Webster, the key drivers affecting healthcare today include:
- Healthcare reform – Extensions and revisions to the law occur constantly.
- Accountability – That currently rests on the shoulders of the providers and the payers, but there’s a need to shift some accountability to the patients.
- Quality standards – Regulatory developments are changing the ways healthcare organizations are evaluated.
- Reimbursement – New models are putting greater emphasis on preventive treatment and allowing for remote care delivery.
- Technology and integrated healthcare networks – Currently, the burden falls on the patient to convey all medical information to doctors across networks. That data needs to be more easily accessed.
- Consumers – People don’t have the same interest in healthcare that they have in technology, such as the latest smartphones and fitness apps.
That last point is key for medical technology companies to understand. There are increasing opportunities to increase patient engagement with mobile apps.
In addition to more engaged patients, there are some other potential benefits well-designed mobile apps might have for providers:
- Access to real-time patient information
- The ability to automatically load data collected with the app in an electronic health record (HER) system
- The availability of information for back-end analysis
- Increased opportunities to communicate with patients
ACTION ITEM(S) TO IMPLEMENT
Those apps can include, for example, testing reminders to increase participation in preventive care. To have a positive impact, Webster said, those applications should make it easy to transmit data to healthcare providers and provide multiple views of information using charts and graphs. Apps should also be able to send data to cloud-based portals to facilitate easy sharing of information, Webster said.
Despite the benefits, there are also some possible downsides that technology developers will have to help providers avoid, including:
- Patients who are currently not highly engaged may not use those apps.
- Ensuring interoperability with other tools and systems can be a challenge.
- There could be a potential for increased liability – for example, do providers want access to real-time information? What if they cannot manage it all? Would doctors be on the hook if they miss something within the mass of information?
For medical technology providers, the focus of innovation must be on bringing their customers value. The current market demands a different approach to innovation than in the past, Webster said. There is a global emphasis on creating value, increasing access, and lowering costs. Experimentation will be key to meeting those goals.
One of the top challenges healthcare organizations are facing is how to effectively manage an abundance of patient information. Knowledge is power, and all the information collected will be used by doctors to improve care and cut costs.
However, providers need tools to help them deal with that data. New systems need to be developed to manage hundreds of data points for each patient.
ACTION ITEM(S) TO IMPLEMENT
Tools can be created that will plot the information that’s currently in logbooks – right now the traditional way of collecting patient data – onto graphs to provide more meaningful, visual information.
Webster recommended medical technology companies start looking into major data aggregators such as IBM, AT&T, Verizon, and others in order to foster partnerships and develop ways to access and organization information. Technology providers need to find ways to properly monitor the millions of data points and how to make the information interoperable among various platforms.
Webster gave the example of diabetes, which is a chronic yet preventable illness. A known 18.8 million and an additional 7 million undiagnosed Americans have diabetes, totaling nearly 26 million. The economic costs of diabetes have risen 41% in five years to reach $176 billion in direct medical costs. Diabetes management includes nutrition, activity, and medication, but there is currently no FDA-approved product that halts the progression of the disease.
For those preventable diseases, some amount of accountability needs to be shifted from healthcare providers to the patients. That will help to lower the costs of care, as well as the percentage of the population afflicted with those diseases.
The goal for organizations in the healthcare industry should be to accomplish these three things for both the individual and the population as a whole:
• Lower per-capita cost
• Improved patient experience
• Improved care outcomes
ACTION ITEM(S) TO IMPLEMENT
There’s an opportunity to cut costs and improve the health of patients with diabetes and other chronic conditions. The key for medical technology companies is to start from the bottom and use technology to support active patients and productive interactions with healthcare providers.
It is imperative for new technology to come forward to actively engage patients and clinics and get them to invest in these products as actively as they are with their iPhones and other new consumer technology, Webster said. Today, the success of new technology is heavily dependent on the level of involvement by the general public. There must be a strong emphasis on reduced costs and improved health for the community as a whole.
The US healthcare system is in a constant state of flux and experimentation. The evolution of the system requires embracing the need for patients, providers, and payers to access information in order to make timely, meaningful decisions.
For more valuable information, download Frost & Sullivan's Executive MindXchange Chronicles: Medical Technologies 2014, a unique collection of all the key take-aways and best practices discussed at the event.