Healthcare as we’ve known it has completely changed. As the Internet of Things (IoT) and health information technologies (HIT) continue to grow and evolve, healthcare professionals are seeing more and more how better connectivity can improve the patient experience, as well as engagement, satisfaction, and health outcomes.
That’s why an increasing number of healthcare organizations are seeking newly emerging technologies to help them stay connected to patients between visits. Recent research has revealed just how rapidly the connected devices market is growing in the U.S., expected to reach almost $60 billion by 2027.
Here’s what you need to know about connected health technology and how it enhances patient engagement.
What Is Connected Health Technology?
According to the International Journal of Medicine, connected health technology “encompasses terms such as wireless, digital, electronic, mobile, and telehealth, and refers to a conceptual model for health management where devices, services, or interventions are designed around the patient’s needs, and health-related data is shared in such a way that the patient can receive care in the most proactive and efficient manner possible.”
In other words, connected health technologies are digital tools in various formats that bridge the gaps between providers and their patients. There are numerous benefits to leveraging connected devices in healthcare, some of which we outlined above, like better engagement and better health outcomes.
Plus, many practices are finding that leveraging connected devices can also reduce the cost of care. However, there are certainly important considerations to keep in mind. For example, data security, digital privacy, and regulatory compliance are relevant concerns that may keep practices and/or patients from adopting connected health technologies.
That said, healthcare consumers are becoming more open to exploring connected health technology to take a more active role in their own care. Nearly half (49 percent) of surveyed iPhone owners have at least one connected health product already, a trend that’s likely to continue increasing in the future.
How Connected Health Technology Enhances Patient Engagement
There are countless examples of connected health technologies, all of which have the potential to substantially boost engagement, such as:
Remote patient monitoring is one of the most common connected device applications in healthcare. Fifty-seven percent of consumers said they were open to using a remote monitoring device to keep track of ongoing health issues at home.
These devices come in a number of shapes and sizes, including external wearables like smartwatches, wristbands, and glasses, as well as implanted devices like pacemakers and beyond. In all forms, remote patient monitoring devices are designed to collect different health metrics on a range of things. These can include:
- Heart rate
- Blood pressure
- Glucose levels
- Fitness level
Incorporating remote monitoring devices into your care can increase engagement by helping patients gain a better understanding of where they’re at health-wise between office visits. With a device that keeps them aware and accountable, patients are more likely to be proactive about their health and make healthier lifestyle choices overall.
Today’s healthcare consumers very much want and expect patient portal access. Nearly every practice offers access to some form of a patient portal, which serves as a digital front door for patients to stay connected with their providers and access important information regarding their care at their convenience.
However, not all patient portals are created equal, and offering patients access to one with the right features is essential for boosting adoption and engagement. The most engaging patient portals offer secure, two-way messaging to give healthcare consumers easy and direct access to their providers when they need it.
Anytime access to lab results, post-visit summaries, appointment scheduling/reminders, and flexible financial options can also improve a consumer’s digital experience. As a result, patients are more likely to take responsibility for their own health and engage in shared decision-making with their providers.
Virtual Care (Telehealth)
Telehealth has gained rapid momentum throughout the course of the pandemic, creating a fundamental shift in care delivery. Now, virtual care is much more widely accepted. In fact, McKinsey recently reported that telehealth utilization has stabilized at levels 38 times higher than before the pandemic.
Virtual care offers a convenient, affordable alternative to in-person visits, considerably improving access to providers—especially for more socially vulnerable patients and those in rural, underserved areas who may live far away from the nearest provider. With care more readily available to them thanks to the rise of telehealth, patients are more likely to be engaged and to stay connected to their providers on a regular basis.
And that’s not all: Digital therapeutics (DTx), mobile applications, chatbots, augmented reality tools, and technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) are also examples of connected health devices being used in healthcare today. There are no doubt several more on the horizon.
As more new and innovative connected health technologies emerge and become adopted in healthcare, it’s a safe bet we’ll continue to see just how much they can influence patient engagement—and health outcomes as a result.