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By Alex Mack • March 17, 2016

Connected Health: Balancing Needs of Providers and Patients

In light of mounting evidence that engaged patients have improved health outcomes, it’s no surprise that encouraging patient engagement is moving to the forefront of providers’ minds. The good news is that patients — long familiar with online interactions with banks, insurance companies and other secure industries — are primed for engagement, and just as interested in technological tools as their clinical partners.

Driving patient engagement

The focus on connected health has, in large part, been driven by pay-for-performance initiatives that link the quality of patient outcomes to payment. Since 2012, the goal has been a reduction in hospital readmissions for key health conditions, measured by a ratio of predicted 30-day readmissions to expected readmissions, based on data from similar hospitals.

Yet while reimbursements may have been the driving force behind the change, there has also been an obvious and measurable uptick in overall patient health outcomes that has grown from connected health initiatives. Today, both patients and providers are eager for increased engagement.

A recent study by CDW Healthcare used surveys of 200 patients and 200 providers to explore the needs, desires and challenges between the two groups. The majority of patients and providers report seeing an uptick in patient engagement during the past two years.

In the study, 60% of providers say that improving patient engagement is a top priority, yet only 35% of patients report that they have seen improvement in their providers’ engagement with them.

What drives patients to become engaged with their healthcare? In the study, the responses were evenly split. Half of the respondents reported that a life event caused them to increase their focus on their health, while the other half said that greater access to their healthcare provider provided the same motivation.

Increased access for better communication

For the majority of patients, the most common method of engagement is access to an online patient portal (62% of those surveyed). More than 40% of surveyed patients now communicate with their providers via email for non-urgent concerns, while 20% have access to a mobile app to access their healthcare information.

Technology is driving patient engagement. Nearly three quarters of patients believe that increased online access to their personal healthcare information will help them take a more active role in their health. Providers echo this need. Nearly 70% report that they’re looking for improved methods for making personal healthcare information easier to access and interpret.

Providers are looking to add the ability to track self-care tools to their connected health systems, giving them valuable insights into day-to-day data for a more comprehensive picture of patient health between visits.

Interoperability is essential

Interoperability is at the heart of all patient-provider communications. Patients are expecting the same level of integrated access and engagement that they experience in other industries, while providers need the integrated health data to improve care and contain healthcare costs.

CloudMine connected cloud technology enables applications to manage the rapidly expanding volume of data, addressing security and privacy requirements while facilitating the free exchange of information between patients and providers.