Is there a better way to manage health versus just working to cure illness? The standard model for medical care has been that of treating illness. If I’m sick with symptoms that I cannot take care of on my own, I go to see my doctor. I may also partake in an annual physical, but apparently that’s a ritual relegated only to Americans these days. However, thanks to personalized medicine and newer technologies, the days of simply reacting to symptoms may be limited.
It’s no big aha that patient care is changing, but the bigger aha lies behind the trends causing the change
Personalized medicine is one of the trends – making the treatment as personalized as the disease, along with a significant emphasis on patient engagement. While variously defined, patient engagement ranges from a healthcare institution’s policy for its own health and caring for others to one’s own personal role in their care process. More encompassing definitions broaden these concepts, describing patients and families working with care providers, in such areas as patient-centered outcomes research.
The more holistic definition of patient engagement is not only new, but also powerful, according to the leading health policy journal Health Affairs. This past February, the journal devoted an entire issue to the theme of “patient engagement” – the concept that patients can have direct involvement in their own healthcare. According to the Journal’s editor, Susan Dentzer, “Policymakers are starting to see patient engagement as something new and powerful, with one health IT consultant calling it the ‘blockbuster drug of the century.'”
New technologies encourage increased communication and collaboration
One significant way to increase patient engagement is to help patients in tracking their own data, especially in areas of concern such as heart rate and blood pressure. Utilization of Observations of Daily Living (ODLs) alone or in conjunction with many mobile health apps that are available to track individual health information using the latest technology is helping patients to do this well. This component of patient engagement gives the patient and their care provider a detailed, fact-based glimpse into what’s occurring in their daily lives, instead of a brief glance during an office visit.
Healthcare environments can support or discourage patient engagement
An additional opportunity to increase patient engagement is to examine healthcare environments and the ways in which they can enhance patient engagement with care providers, caregivers, and loved ones. Engagement is not only about communication, but it is also about education. Calming, intuitive healthcare environments that support the needs and technology of all involved are essential.
In A Conversation with Roz Cama: The Black Bag is now an iPad, Cama stated, “It’s important [for the care provider and patient] to be at the same eye level… It keeps the patient engaged and dignified and gives them the confidence to be an active participant in the conversation.” Designing the space and outfitting it with the right solutions makes this possible.
Leanne West tipped her hat to this notion when referencing a smartphone physical in which she had recently participated: “I could easily see images on the smartphone as the tests were being conducted. The physician also didn’t have to constantly be turning his back to me to type notes into the computer, he could do it all there on his phone. The design of the space made this all possible.”
How is your organization supporting patient engagement? We’d enjoy hearing your success stories or even about your pain points and how you are overcoming them.
Several of our blog posts address this topic, here are a few of our most recent:
- New Technologies Enable Better Engagement Between Patients and Caregivers
- Interview with Shiv Gaglani of Medgadget
- Key Moments and Great Conversations in Healthcare
- Introducing Empath: Designed for the Needs of Patients and Caregivers
- Healthcare Design: Crucial to Healing