When healthcare meets technology, of a number of things, it means access to care in a cost-effective way. The healthcare space, in particular, has seen a large wave of consumer-driven care delivery models steered by technology such as telehealth. In 2019, telehealth solutions made huge leaps when it came to improving patient experience, ensuring patient safety, and delivering value-based care.
Here are the top three categories of telehealth solutions that trended in 2019, and will continue to lead in the new year.
From population health management to remote patient monitoring, patient engagement platforms made the most sense for both providers and patients. Getting a patient to not just passively access information but to be actively involved in his/her own health, however, is where the real value of a patient engagement platform lies. Why? Because it empowers the patient providing additional insights leading to improved shared health outcomes.
This personalized care requires relevant dialogue for the patient specific to his/her needs, offering a personal experience which is vital in healthcare. The many patient pathways are organized and integrated at the point of care.
For healthcare providers, this can automate routine protocols, integrate workflows, and individualize care for their patients/client client population. This time/cost/insight efficiency translates to improved quality care, enhancing a provider’s footprint in his practice.
For example, by automating pre-optimizing the patient prior to surgery means patient and providers can be in “regular” contact, resulting in several benefits:
better ratio of surgery booking to post-operative care
More efficient collection of necessary documentation and gather patient medical history
Identifying early potential issues that could lead to day-of-surgery cancellations,
decrease the need for patient pre-surgery tests and post-surgery repeat visits and costs.
The patient engagement platform as a tool for surgical preparedness, as well as an integrated and team-based approach in healthcare in general, can help improve patient safety and enhances value-based care delivery.
With close to 800,000 people dying by suicide every year worldwide, being 1 death every 40 seconds, the World Health Organization in 2019 underscored the importance of mental health. The World Mental Health Day in October centered on suicide prevention, with mental health to be given priority in public health agendas around the world.
According to WHO, “...for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.
Suicides and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts on families, friends, colleagues, communities, and societies.”
Suicides are preventable, and much can be done to prevent suicide. Technology can help, particularly telehealth, due to its provision of continuous personal care and remote monitoring to support treatment, especially those at high risk for suicide.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), technology, like the solutions LifeWIRE provides, has opened a new frontier in mental health support and data collection. It “...can collect information on a user’s typical behavior patterns, detect a change in behavior, it may provide a signal that help is needed before a crisis occurs, while others help the user connect to a peer counselor or to a healthcare professional.”
Telehealth related communication platforms can provide an effective behavioral management tool that enables effective triage, improved clinical outreach, more accurate charting, and reduced clinical workload.
As a solution when it comes to mental health support, check-ins on individual patients via text, IM or similar messages can be automated, personalized by sending specific follow-up or motivational messages, and/or ask for a response that rates the patient’s mood on a scale of 1 to 5, are but a few of countless interactions. Health tech solutions like LifeWIRE can similarly alert mental health providers and counselors to reach out to patients to provide additional support based on criteria set by both providers and/or patients.
Further, it keeps providers and peer support groups in touch with patients, when needed or dersired, for continuous care anywhere, anytime, on any device.
To predict is to prevent, but to predict accurately you need data, good data. In healthcare it’s not enough that you have data - but it should translate to actionable insights for the identification, stratification, and management of patients. Telehealth can do this - when used and structured accordingly. It is a tool for data analytics as it pulls data while pushing out insights to help providers understand the patient better, patients understand their circumstances better, responsive in a timely manner, and estimate outcomes.
With any client population comes big data sets. Technology can do more than just manage healthcare data. In 2019, value-based care pushed the utilization of telehealth in data and analytics to manage healthcare costs and help patients receive appropriate care in the effort to facilitate quality and cost-effective medicine. And according to Izenda, analytics solutions will continue to draw health CIOs in 2020 “to provide better care, prevent diseases, and optimize all areas of the care continuum.”
There are many sources of healthcare data - lab reports, biometrics, claims, wearable devices, electronic health records, patient-generated health data, and the social determinants of health to name a few. To support population health management, this data must become information to give healthcare providers insight for real-time intervention and to be able to predict the likelihood of a future outcome.
Where data analytics is the collection and analysis of data to gain insights, provide basis for intervention and support decision making, a telehealth platform is king. It leverages both the patient and provider’s access to hundreds of thousands of apps, wearables, and medical devices through which it can track both quantitative data (vitals, activity tracking, and biometrics) and qualitative data (patient-reported outcomes or mood).
This collection and analysis of healthcare data through a platform improves risk management for providers transitioning to value-based payment. As data is both qualitative and quantitative, analytics can be descriptive and predictive providing a multidimensional perspective of the patient. It is when data is analyzed for predictive modeling, with a large enough set of “good” structured data, that healthcare decisions are better optimized, resulting in more informed choices about how to proceed with a decision based on historical data.
Predictive analytics of health data can produce better outcomes across the value-based care continuum. “Predictive tools are in high demand among hospital executives looking to reduce variation and gain more actionable insights into ordering patterns and supply utilization,” according to Health IT Analytics. This solution, either offered through telehealth or any other health platform technology, will be a continuing need as healthcare systems continue their digital transformation.
These three solution categories and more all lie in the power of communication transformed into engagement through innovative technology. In patient care, when communications become engagement, it activates patients to participate in being a partner in co-producing better health. That’s how it is to #BeLifeWIREd.