Why aren’t more doctors using patient engagement tools?
A new report reveals that 69% of healthcare providers are using patient engagement to get patients more involved in their own care, but its authors suggest that number should be closer to 100%.
“Nearly half of respondents say their patient engagement initiatives are having a major to moderate impact on quality outcomes,” says study co-author Kevin Volpp, MD, Ph.D., director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “That’s pretty remarkable considering we are still in the earlier stages of patient engagement and that many potential approaches have yet to be fully scaled and integrated into practice.”
In the study, Volpp and Namita S. Mohta, MD, clinical editor at NEJM Catalyst, surveyed 350 executives, clinical leaders and clinicians and found the engagement numbers to be smaller than expected.
In fact, the researchers noted that the survey proves there is still big room for improvement in the patient engagement arena.
“Survey respondents clearly think the best is yet to come—Patient Engagement 2.0,” Volpp says in the study. “Many survey respondents comment that we need to engage patients outside the exam room with frequent, creative interactions that do not have to always include their physicians.”
In order to help patients long-term, doctors need to help them modify their behaviors in a positive way, and that is nearly impossible to do in a 15-minute session during an office visit, says Bill Van Wyck, president and chief innovation officer at Zillion, a digital health engagement provider.
“Achieving sustained behavioral change requires doctors to be involved in the day-to-day lives of their patients, not just during the patient’s appointments—and the most effective way doctors can do this is by utilizing patient engagement tools,” he says. “The whole concept of interacting with technology to communicate outside of the telephone is still so new. Educating both doctors and patients on how to best utilize these tools will take time, but it can be done by building simple, easy-to-use tools that ultimately become second nature to those who use them.”
Evolving patient engagement technologies, such as mobile health or “mHealth” tools have the potential to give patients more frequent guidance beyond the walls of the office visit, offer physicians more data than can be measured in a clinical encounter and observe a patient’s health status in his or her natural setting, notes Dominic Galante, MD, chief medical officer, quality and population health solutions for Precision for Value.