Patient Engagement May Reduce Healthcare Reform Anxiety | | Healthcare and Technology news |
How can greater adoption of patient engagement tools help to alleviate uncertainty about the future of healthcare reform?

Adopting more robust patient engagement technologies may help providers and patients alike find their way out of pervasive anxieties about the future of the healthcare industry – if physicians can lead the way.  According to a survey performed by Booz Allen Hamilton and Ipsos Public Affairs, few industry stakeholders are satisfied with the way healthcare is headed, but believe that preventative care, backed by patient engagement technologies, mobile apps, and care coordination, may help them find the way forward through a complicated maze of financial and administrative changes.

“Physicians, especially the older ones and the specialists, have to move into a whole new world, and they are concerned that it’s making their life a lot more complicated than it used to be,” said Nicolas Boyon, Senior Vice President at Ipsos Public Affairs, in an interview with HealthITAnalytics.  “It is partly generational.  The average age of practicing physicians in the US is actually slightly over 50, and specialists tend to be even older.  A lot of physicians started practicing when the world was very different.  They view their role, first and foremost, as caring for patients, and technology was not necessarily what they specialized in or learned a lot about in medical school.”

“It’s curious to see the level of anxiety out there,” added Grant McLaughlin, Vice President at Booz Allen.  “When you look at behavior change, anxiety is often lessened when there is a path.  We’re in a time of uncertainty as Affordable Care Act is being rolled out and new care models are being tested.  We may not necessarily have an endpoint clearly in view, and I think that causes anxiety.”

While physicians do not generally believe that current mobile apps and other patient engagement products are up to the challenge of providing valuable and medically sound information and tools to the patient population, there is a widespread interest in such technologies among consumers.  Patients are seeking a higher degree of convenience, more control over their own health, and more efficient ways to stay connected with their providers, conduct administrative tasks, and review their own health data, the survey revealed.

“Once you actually find an app that you can use, and you use it every day to help you do something, and you find the value in it, then it has become invaluable to you.  You absolutely cannot live without it,” McLaughlin said.  “That’s what we’re struggling with.  We’re seeing lots of technological inventions, but how do we add value in the context between the consumer and the provider?  If we can get to the crux of how to make the conversation between consumers and providers more valuable, and if technology can enable that, then I think we’ve struck gold.”