The Importance of Patient Engagement and Quality of Life Reports

As healthcare and technology continue to evolve, so to do healthcare provider’s ability to provide service and improve patient outcomes. Remote monitoring, telemedicine and mHealth are providing new and powerful ways for patients and their caregivers to interact and engage. Mobile phones and wireless connectivity are also empowering patients to take a more active role in their healthcare provision. In fact, patients are increasingly demanding their healthcare providers offer remote services [1].

Patient Engagement

The advent of mobile technology, telemedicine and mHealth has made engaging with patients easier than ever. Wearable technology and remote monitoring increases access for patients living in rural areas without regular access to healthcare specialists. What’s more, these new technologies can actually help improve the quality of care that patients receive; remote monitoring may even alert healthcare providers to changes as they happen and allow for immediate treatment. This in turn means the potential for more efficient delivery of healthcare. For example, telehealth solutions can save clinics between $312 and $524 per patient by reducing travel costs alone for clinics with elderly patients living in remote areas [2]. Moreover, wearable technology and remote monitoring can significantly improve patient engagement and management of their condition [3]. Telehealth technology often requires patients to take a more active role in their healthcare, and educates patients on disease management as daily users become more interactive. Dashboards and wearable integrated data can assist with lifestyle modification that may improve patient outcomes and engagement. Medical professionals further use Quality of Life reports (QoLs) to keep track of their patients throughout and after the care process. QoLs have been gaining importance over the last several years as their value becomes increasingly understood. They provide insight into how patients respond to treatments and the cost/benefit dynamics of a therapy.

Quality of Life Reports and Patient Portals

Quality of Life reports are another form of remote monitoring that clinicians can take advantage of to promote better patient outcomes, and their use continues to rise. Measuring the quality of life of a patient is an important facet of information for healthcare providers; after all, beyond saving lives and healing, the primary purpose of virtually all healthcare is improving a patient’s quality of life. Discovering what treatments produce the best results and how they impact patients in both the short- and long-term provides critical insight into the efficacy of treatment regimens. QoLs can be used to assess patients after a variety of procedures or while managing chronic diseases of all sorts. The exact format of your clinic’s reports is going to depend heavily on your speciality, patients and the care provided. For example, Cancer Surgery Alberta’s recent successful trial with QoLs had patients logging in through the patient portal provided by Synoptec to answer a series of questions. Synoptec then analyzed the answer provided and notified a nurse navigator of any reports that registered low QoL scores. This gave nurses and doctors the opportunity to discuss with the patient their situation; they could confirm what the patient was doing or schedule a visit. All this was accomplished without requiring the patient to come back to the clinic for checkups (unless necessary), saving doctors, nurses and patients from needless consultations and wasted travel time and other resources.

Analysis

Thanks to the advent of modern technology, the use of QoLs is becoming more widespread, feasible and cost-effective. Rather than relying on paper, pens and postmen, clinicians have the opportunity to allow patients to fill out and upload QoLs at their convenience (assuming the clinic provides an online patient portal). However, it isn’t enough to just capture the data your patients provide; the ability to analyze and report on that data is a critical part of the process. Be sure you have the ability to easily extract data from the forms your patients fill out, and to analyze forms en masse to discover trends and effectiveness across various metrics. Synoptec’s Analyzer module is an example of such a software feature; clinicians can evaluate their patients’ QoLs on both a case-by-case basis and across almost any broader demographic or segment. Technology is making healthcare delivery increasingly efficient. However, it needs to be taken advantage of properly for clinics, physicians and patients to realize the complete benefits. Cost-conscious clinics looking to implement Quality of Life reports should be sure their EMR software provides a quality patient portal and analytical capabilities to maximize the benefits realized.

References:

  1. Global market for connected wearables, health devices expected to reach $612B by 2024. Mack, H. Mobi Health News. 2016 Aug 11.http://www.mobihealthnews.com/content/report-global-market-connected-wearables-health-devices-expected-reach-612b-2024
  2. Can Telemedicine Bridge the Gap in Chronic Disease Management? Nakhleh RE. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2008 Feb;132(2):181-5. http://www.synsormed.com/chronic-disease-management/
  3. Outcomes of a Telehealth Intervention for Homebound Older Adults With Heart or Chronic Respiratory Failure: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Gellis Z., Kenaley B., McGinty J. et al. Gerontologist (2012) 52 (4): 541-552. https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/article/52/4/541/642861/Outcomes-of-a-Telehealth-Intervention-for