Patient engagement tools bring consumer vibes to healthcare


The consumer's role in healthcare

Healthcare has historically lagged behind other industries when it comes to adopting technologies that improve consumer involvement. But in an increasingly consumer-focused world, patient engagement tools and similar technologies are more and more essential.

"The bank knows you, the airline knows you, Google and Amazon know you -- and people have that expectation," said St. Joseph Health's Marino, who demonstrated his point by offering a personal example about his wife making chili. "She goes on Google and looks up the ingredients in a commercially prepared chili," he noted. Soon after, he added, Amazon began pinging her about buying chili because the company's technology recognized her needs.

Marino said the same dynamic needs to happen when using patient engagement tools and techniques. When a patient visits a physician, he explained, it would be helpful if the doctor already knew that the patient had concerns about diabetes and had even searched online about the disease.

He envisioned the doctor saying, for example, "I see you've been worried about [diabetes]; you've been looking up diabetes. We've been checking your [blood tests] for a couple years; your weight is starting to creep up. You have a family history, but you're still okay. Let's really start to tackle your weight." If a patient is struggling to manage diabetes, Marino said, healthcare organizations could engage that patient by sending reminders via email to make an appointment for a blood test.

For a health system, taking steps like these creates a personalized experience for the consumer. "Why wouldn't we do that in healthcare?" Marino asked.