Ensuring that patients take their medications according to prescribers’ orders is one of the most basic forms of patient engagement and getting patients involved in their own health. But patient engagement goes far beyond that and includes a number of creative new uses for digital technology.
Next-generation patient engagement will be the subject of a panel discussion at the MedCity ENGAGE conference in San Diego next month, titled “Next Generation Engagement: Going Beyond Medication Adherence.” The panel will include moderator Dennis Robbins, principal for Person-centric solutions and a member of the American Heart Association’s technology and innovation board; Interactive Lifestyle Management co-founder and CEO Rich Gossage; ResMed VP for SaaS strategy Annie McBride; PathSight Predictive Science founder and managing director Bob Raleigh; and Appian executive adviser Robert Yurkovic.
While not included on the panel, one company at the conference, ZOTT, is a good example of why next-generation patient engagement is important. The company was created by GameChanger, a non-profit founded by Taylor Carol, who said in a phone interview that he learned the importance of considering a patient’s well-being in a holistic manner through his battle as a teenager against Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, particularly when he lost most of his senses due to graft-versus-host disease from a bone marrow transplant. The company, which uses a hybrid cloud technology to stream television, games and educational content, is meant to provide an alternative to the depressing situation in hospitals where patients only have 20 channels of basic cable and the loss of their sense of agency.
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“Holistic” seems to be a key term when discussing how such efforts at patient engagement can improve patient health. ResMed, for example, has evolved from a device company to one that integrates healthcare informatics and technologies with devices in order to enhance the workflow of providers so that they can provide better care to patients, McBride said in a phone interview. The company looks to stay up to speed on what technologies are evolving to help engage more informed patients and integrate with other platforms. “We’re looking at being at the forefront of that,” she said. ResMed’s business focuses on three main areas, namely continuous positive airway pressure therapy devices combined with MAP technology and connected to send data to a cloud; a respiratory care division; and an SaaS platform for providers.
Yet often, improving patient engagement is a matter of reaching patients before they have to go to the hospital and simply want to improve their personal health. Gossage recognized a problem with the way a lot of healthier practices were promoted to people when he co-founded ILM. “I always laugh that a lot of products like FitBit and the idea of 10,000 steps get funded and do very well for a while, but part of that is because they’re for the types of people who are already fit and love measuring,” he said in a phone interview. But measuring doesn’t change behavior, he said. What ILM aims to do is get people involved in their lifestyle choices in order to get them to view walking 10,000 steps a day is important, and to do so by using a curriculum backed by algorithms to make health and wellness fun. The issue, he said, is that it’s hard to get people out of habits when they can’t or simply don’t want to quickly and easily go from being sedentary and eating poorly to eating well and being active. The company is especially hoping to tap into how people form habits like when and where they brush their teeth so that they’ll take small steps toward building a healthier lifestyle. “We’re trying to affect your reptilian brain,” he said.
Photo: Carla Vasquez, Flickr