Hal is hospitalized with congestive heart failure. During his hospitalization, the doctors are in and out of his room. They spend a little time explaining the condition and treatment, but they have other patients to see. Hal’s wife and family may not be in the room at the time, and it’s hard for Hal to know what questions to ask and to remember all the information given. Mostly, he just listens to what they say, as he does not consider himself an expert in medical care. By the time he’s discharged, he may not remember how he’s supposed to care for his condition, dates or times of follow-up appointments, or even how to take his medications. There’s a pile of paperwork to sift through containing the information, but it’s overwhelming to read.
It’s this mindset that the healthcare system is trying to change. The movement is to empower patients to take charge of their health, and one of the best ways to do this is with technology. A well-designed system can drive greater patient engagement through education and entertainment. If you’re thinking that these systems already exist, well, they do. However, they’re inflexible and expensive. There’s a lot of room for improvement.
Organizations can only minimally personalize these patient engagement products. After all, healthcare organizations are buying a product, not a customizable solution. Any updates or changes must be made inside the healthcare system’s four walls, as the products are installed and updated on-site. They’re expensive, and the technology doesn’t carry over to the home environment. Once the patient leaves the building, that stack of papers becomes the patient engagement system.
The Problem: Health Literacy
Healthcare systems are trying to solve for health literacy. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” A surprisingly low percentage of U.S. adults are considered proficient in health literacy – only 12 percent. Contrast this with 14 percent of adults considered to have below basic health literacy status. These same adults are disproportionately (42%) more likely to report poor health themselves.
Those with limited health literacy skills are more likely to have chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and asthma, which they are less able to effectively manage. Without many health literacy skills, these patients have less knowledge of their illness and how to treat it. The result? Higher rates of hospitalization, less frequent use of preventative services, and poor health outcomes.
For payers and health systems, low health literacy leads to higher healthcare costs. It’s associated with increased rates of emergency department usage and hospitalization.
There are many reasons that healthcare systems want to improve health literacy: better patient care; payment systems rewarding quality care; and fewer hospitalizations. The good news is that health systems already have educational content. They just don’t have the right delivery vehicle or the patient’s attention. They need creative ways to get patients access to this educational material and better incorporate it into their lives.
A Vision of What’s Possible
How does a healthcare system improve patient engagement without breaking the budget? By taking a new approach. Current systems use hospital or clinic-based hardware and servers, which not only take precious space but also require a longer installation and on-site updates. Moving a patient engagement system to the cloud allows for instant updates with no downtime, no technician visits, and no advanced scheduling. Using an agile development approach, a minimal, viable product can be introduced in a short time period, adding features that can be adjusted based on incremental feedback. And this type of system is available to patients with an internet connection outside the healthcare setting.
Newer systems like one developed by Maven Wave don’t just recommend videos. They incentivize patients to watch and pay attention, using gamification. They also empower staff members to use the technology to benefit the providers and the patients. By leveraging Google Cloud, the patient, clinicians, and family members can easily participate in team discussions via video. Patients can access their documents, appointment information, and other reminders from home or anywhere outside the healthcare setting. And healthcare systems can continue to iterate the offerings, updating the system with the push of a button, not with a manual installation.
When health systems see results from engagement programs, staff members are more willing to share the benefits with patients. That’s why these systems shouldn’t be offered in a vacuum, but rather with a change management program, to drive adoption and improve usage and outcomes.
The Maven Wave patient engagement system can include educational content which, after access, tracks what educational content has been read/accessed and uses gamification techniques to increase the fun factor of learning. It also provides reminders of appointments, shows medications prescribed and how to take them, shares community resources. Plus, it offers telehealth access, drive storage, security/log-in, customized features based on health system requests, and yes, unlocks games or entertainment.
Patients like Hal may get the same care and treatment at a competing facility. But, when a healthcare system offers personalized education and follow-up opportunities like this, Hal is in a better position to understand his condition and health needs. Healthcare systems want to extend patient care, not patient stays. Creative solutions can engage patients to know more about their conditions so they can better monitor and treat them. And that leads to better outcomes, a win for Hal, and a win for the healthcare system.
Not only does Maven Wave offer these options, but they’re a fraction of the cost of legacy patient engagement systems. Maven Wave is offering to share a demonstration with your healthcare organization or to bring in our design team for a workshop. Just want to chat about how our system is different than the others, and what features your organization wants? We can do that too. Contact us now.
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