How Doctors Can Leverage Mobile Technology For Patient Retention

The mobile wave has engulfed the world and its impact on healthcare has been nothing less than overwhelming. According to a research conducted by Markets and Markets, the mHealth technology market is expected to grow by 33% to cross USD 60 billion by 2020. Another survey by GreatCall showed that 93% of physicians believed that mHealth could contribute greatly to improving patient health. As mHealth cements its place in healthcare, let’s evaluate how doctors can leverage mobile technology for patient retention.

Reduce Wait Times

Long wait times could be listed as one of the biggest banes that patients face when going for a doctors’ appointment. Even with prior appointments, most patients have to wait endlessly to meet their doctors. And often after a seemingly endless wait, the patient is informed during a consultation that they have to come back after conducting a certain battery of tests. This is not only a waste of time for the patient but the doctor as well. With the consumerisation of healthcare, doctors can now leverage mHealth apps to take a look at patient history and intimate them of the tests that need to be done before they even meet them. Further, using mHealth apps, doctors can avoid appointment overlaps and post-appointment confirmation and notifications which ensure a smoother interaction with the patient during his/her physical visit.

Effective Communication

The right mobile apps can play a great role in making the doctor-patient communication more effective. Patients can easily store all their medical records and health history on comprehensive mobile health apps and access them anytime and anywhere. This solves the problem of the missing documents that we ever so often face when meeting with a doctor. With all the information stored in a central repository, doctors can spend the face time with the patients more productively and promote better interactions to manage the patients’ health better. This also leaves the patient more satisfied and less likely to shop around for another doctor.

Better Patient Management

Using mHealth doctors can improve patient management and become more proactive with their patients. Proactive patient management in the form of timely communication regarding patient appointments, important notifications, and updates, post-appointment messages etc. can be delivered to the patient using an app to ensure that the patient does not miss out on any vital piece of information needed to maintain their health. Along with this, doctors can centralise all patient-related information in a central data repository that can be accessed anytime and anywhere which can be of great help to manage a patients’ health remotely.

Pre and Post-Operative Care Management

One of the biggest pain points that patients have is regarding pre and post-operative care. While information is provided to them both regarding pre and post-operative care, it is usually disseminated in one session making it hard to retain the information. Using mobile apps, doctors can send out relevant information to their patients at the right time so that the patients can take the measures both pre and post operation. This not only helps in better health management but also reduces readmission rates and helps in reducing healthcare costs for the patient.

Better Transparency

Patients today demand greater information access. While the healthcare sector has adopted digital technology, they are still trying to play catch up with other sectors such as retail. Patients today demand faster information access regarding their health. Research shows that a majority of healthcare consumers prefer using digital technology to visiting a hospital to get clarifications regarding the care that they are receiving. A 2017 study by American Well states that 26% of patients are likely to change healthcare systems to find a provider offering tele-visits. Doctors leveraging mHealth can help their patients access all the health information they need and proactively answer all questions that go into better health management.

Pre-emptive Care

mHealth applications also provide a treasure trove of data that physicians can leverage for pre-emptive healthcare. Leveraging data analytics, doctors can plan better service delivery dependent on the patient requirement, and analyse and predict health conditions based on the patients’ health records to enable preventive healthcare. Further, doctors can upload tutorials on preventive healthcare and give practical advice to their patients on how to manage their health and health conditions better. All these things help in keeping the patients, the current consumers of healthcare, happy and satisfied as they find doctors becoming more invested in their health.

As they say that numbers do not lie, and going by the adoption rate of mHealth it is becoming clear that this technology trend is not only here but is soon on its way to becoming the enabler of better interactions and better patient outcomes. Using mobile technology doctors can create greater engagement with their patients and enable better outcomes. Patient retention then becomes an automatic consequence of this effort.

6 Tips To Remember Your Doctor’s Instructions

Having to visit a doctor with a loved one who is suffering is one thing but when you are the patient, it quite another. A doctor’s meeting can cause anxiety but did you know? Anxiety affects your brain and your cognitive function. If you feel anxious during a doctor’s meeting, it can affect your memory making it hard for you to remember the specifics of your doctor’s instructions. Even if you remembered what was discussed, studies have shown that it may only be 50 percent of the right information. See? This is why you need to know these tips to remember your doctor’s instructions!

Prepare yourself

Speaking to another adult about your intimate and personal issue can be a little intimidating. Yes, doctors can also overwhelm you and just to be their presence creates anxiety for some people. Here’s information you need to prepare yourself with before you meet with your doctor.

  • Note down all the symptoms you’re having.
  • If you record your progress or health failing in a journal, bring that.
  • Talk about any situation or person or life change that may cause you stress.
  • Note down all the medicines you may be already taking or bring them along.
  • Are you allergic to anything or ay particular medicine? Remember and take notes.
  • If you’re already on a multivitamin or if you need supplements for any reason and note that down too to share it with your doctor too.
  • Remember to bring all your medical records, previous tests or x-rays? Yes, bring them.

Even better, in today’s age of smartphones, maintain your medical history on your phone so that you don’t have to carry many files and other such details in physical copies along with you.

Ask questions

Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that you didn’t understand something. However, it’s very important to remember your doctor’s instructions. So at the appointment, be sure to ask many questions. Along with all the things you already prepare yourself for in the first point, note down questions as well. Ask these questions one by one at the appointment. If you didn’t understand an instruction, stop the conversation and get clarify right there. If the doctor wasn’t available, check with a nurse or another physician in the vicinity and clear all your doubts before you leave the premises.

Take notes instead of audio recording

Yes, in this fast-paced world, who has the time to write on a notepad anymore? Who does that, right? Well, although you will have to ask permission for voice or video recording, not all doctors are happy about reducing the meeting in any form. For the simple reason that digital recording can be misused. So doctors don’t like to be recording for the fear of using that as evidence for malpractice etc. you don’t want to change your doctor’s mood for any reason, that may affect the meeting. So being safe, take notes instead. Writing using a pen and paper helps you remember better anyway.

Use your smartphone

You also have the notes application on your smartphones. Use that to take notes during your examination. Make sure you write every instruction your doctor gives you down.

Bring a loved one

Whether it is your friend or a family member, your loved one will remind you of things you may forget to bring up the drug in the appointment. Your intention by preparing yourself beforehand and bringing your medical records is all done with good intentions. However, when you find yourself seated at the examination table, you may be too nervous or feel the anxiety to ask your questions. Let your loved one be your rock and your guide. Besides, while you may be on the table, your loved one can take the notes for you!

Organize yourself & follow up

You can organize yourself to remember to take your prescribed medication. Here are a few ideas:

  • Set a reminder on your phone to take medication.
  • Stick the prescription paper on your fridge or anywhere within reach.
  • Follow up with your doctor/physician/nurse if you need more help or information.

So if you get home and you find that your symptoms have changed or worsened, you may have to follow up, anyway. Update your health records and share the details with your doctor when you visit for a follow-up.

How Technology Can Transform Doctor-Patient Relationship

The doctor-patient relationship is on the cusp of disruption. The increased availability of information, technology adoption, the rise of smartphones, better carrier networks, and increased internet usage are all contributing to the rise of the ‘involved patient’. Susannah Fox entrepreneur in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says, “Consumers only used to get a filtered drip of information. What the Internet did was pull open that funnel and give people more access — not complete access — to health information.

No longer are patients passive consumers of healthcare. Today, they want to manage their own health journeys, make their own health choices, keep track of their wellbeing and access clinical support that they feel is right for them. Almost 90% of the millennial generation look for medical information on social networks before they make their healthcare decisions – it is a testament to the fact that the locus of control is moving from the hands of the physician alone and into the hands of the individuals seeking care. With the help of technology, healthcare providers too, are looking at improving patient engagement along with increasing efficiencies and improving operational costs.

Physicians today are looking at mobile phones to boost patient engagement and optimally utilize their time in between commutes. A report from Research2Guidance shows that almost 80% of physicians now use a smartphone or medical app. Since an increasing number of mobile apps are now being developed keeping the regulatory and compliance requirements in mind, the healthcare community comprising of doctors, private practices and hospitals are now finding it easier to use mobile devices across the healthcare spectrum. James Avallone, Director of Physician Research at Manhattan Research aptly states, “As we move to an outcomes-based model of healthcare provision…, remote monitoring and telehealth are going to drive an extension of the point of care. We’re seeing physician attitudes really align with policy.”  In this blog, we take a look at how technology is helping doctors and patients foster a better working relationship.

Health Information Management

Given that most patients have online access, they can leverage technology to access their health records. Technologies such as cloud give both the physician and the patient access to health records such as scans, X-Rays, pathological reports, patient history etc. anytime and anywhere. This ensures that neither the patient nor the doctor wastes any time looking for and filtering the right healthcare information when they need it. With health information management systems, doctors can get a comprehensive view of a patient’s health history and are aware of any problems or issues that the patient might have forgotten to mention during a consultation. Such technologies make sure that the consultation time is used productively which make doctor-patient interactions smoother and more effective.

Improved Communication

Technology is also helping doctors and patients improve interactions with each other. With more access to their health-related information, patients feel more in control of their care as they are able to understand their conditions better.

  • Post consultation updates that can be automated and sent via SMS’s ensure that patients have access to all vital pieces of information that are essential for managing their health.
  • Improved doctor-patient interactions not only impacts the patient’s experience with the doctor but also make sure that they follow their practitioner’s directives better.
  • Access to health data also gives patients the chance to ask relevant and more focused questions to their doctors and helps them gain an understanding of what their health data is saying from the physician.
  • With technology, patients can now discuss their medications, side effects, alternative medicine, lifestyle changes etc. with their doctors more accurately.

The role of the doctor thus has evolved from being an authoritarian care provider to one who is more of a mentor and an advisor. The doctors too are able to facilitate these interactions easily as getting access to current and updated patient data and records are at their fingertips owing to smartphones.

Pre and Post-Operative Care

Technology goes a long way in advancing patient outcomes by improving pre and post-operative care and improves the surgical pathways.

  • Doctors can use technology to help the patient understand risks and benefits of a particular surgery before an operation with the help of evidence-based suggestions.
  • With the help of direct messages, doctors can intimate the patient on the necessary precautions and measures they need to take before a surgery.
  • Health information exchanges can become more streamlined when clinical data in the form of medical records and investigation results can be efficiently shared with the right stakeholders before surgical intervention making the pre-operative process smoother for both the patient and the doctors.
  • Doctors can also use technology to deliver tailored post-operative care plans which include expected length of stay, post-operative care, self-managed symptoms, and side effects etc.
  • They can complete symptom assessments electronically that can help in effective discharge planning and send electronic alerts to their patients regarding medicines and consultation reminders once they are discharged from the hospital to make health management easier and effective.

Chronic Disease Management

Technology goes a long way in chronic disease management. Mobile health applications help people with chronic diseases become more accountable towards their health. Interoperable applications enable doctors to gather healthcare data to track their patient’s behaviours and send out timely reminders to help them manage their conditions better and decrease hospital readmissions. With such technology, medical staff can send out educational interventions by providing objective data and helps the patients manage their condition better.  Almost 93% of doctors believe that mHealth applications can improve a patient’s health and 40% of doctors believe that mHealth technologies can reduce the number of visits to a physician.

Risk Management

Mobile health applications also give physicians access to health-related data which helps them identify potential candidates who are ‘at risk’ of a particular disease. For example, accessing health data to identify patients who have been susceptible to the flu at a certain time of the year can help the doctor take a more preventive approach towards healthcare. The same data can be put to use to even identify patients who are at risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary diseases etc.  and preventive steps can be taken to reduce risk and promote better health.

Clearly, technology has been a big influencer in the changing doctor-patient dynamics. However, while leveraging healthcare technologies, it is essential that the application fosters interoperability between the patient and the doctor, is easy to use and is secure. Technology is allowing both patients and practitioners more control over health by offering reliable data, access to clinical support, and high information levels. This is helping patients get closer to medical science and health management than ever before by increasing transparency and participation and is helping doctors improve the quality of their patient interactions, reduce wait times and better patient outcomes.