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Democratization of Medicine Closing the Gap on Meaningful Use

man-on-a-mobile-phoneThe smartphone — once considered essential technology for mostly Millennial users — crossed generational lines in 2014.  For the first time, Nielsen reported earlier this year, a majority of mobile subscribers across all age groups own smartphones, including those 55 and older. As such technology becomes more common among all consumers, it is also influencing the health care industry.

Today’s consumers are, in fact, in many ways ahead of providers when it comes to leveraging technology for the purposes of health care, but that gap is shrinking. Following the lead of their patients, providers are actively seeking new ways to utilize innovative technologies and patient data to enhance the health care experience and drive engagement.

Patient Records — the Last Bastion for Providers

During the keynote address at the Health 2.0 Conference this year, Dr. Eric Topol of Scripps Health encouraged physicians to embrace the democratization of medicine. According to MedCity News coverage of the event, Dr. Topol told attendees, “While data show clear differences between patients and doctors in certain areas, most noticeably around who owns medical records, the two groups are coming ever closer in their embrace of new technology in medical practice.”

During his address, Dr. Topol also referenced a study from WebMD Health Corp. and Medscape that evaluated patient and provider attitudes on technology and doctor-patient relationships. The study confirmed that health care providers are lagging behind consumers.

  • Physicians are 15 percent less likely to embrace the use of technology in the diagnostic process than consumers.
  • Only 33 percent of physicians would be willing to accept patient data from smartphones in place of office visits, but nearly 50 percent of consumers believe some tests, such as eye and ear examinations, could be performed on a smartphone instead of an in-person office visit.

While both health care consumers and providers agree that patients should be allowed to see their lab and diagnostic test results, physicians are reluctant to allow patients access to more detailed EHR records, fearing that patients will request unnecessary medical tests or experience anxiety because they don’t fully understand what they are seeing. Patients, on the other hand, believe EHR access will allow them to better manage their health.

Ultimately, noted Dr. Topol, health care providers recognize that consumer-driven health care is the way of the future. “There is a growing understanding among physicians that patients have greater access to care and cost information and that is giving them greater voice in the decision-making process,” he said.

Using mHealth Technology for Patient Engagement

Both telehealth and mobile platforms are being used with great success, but the key to success lies beyond the technology itself. In a consumer-driven health care landscape, hospitals and physicians need to provide more personalized experiences for their patients, just as retailers have done. The use of psychographic segmentation to identify the different motives, beliefs and emotions that drive patient behavior can help health care providers identify the best mHealth solutions and communication strategies that – when combined — can improve patient outcomes and build greater trust and loyalty with consumers.

For example, consider the study by Frost & Sullivan which shows that 98 percent of text messages are read — usually within 5 seconds of being received — compared to only 22 percent of emails. Armed with this knowledge and a better understanding of which patients are most likely to respond to text reminders, a health care provider could implement simple text alert programs to improve patient outcomes. 

In a pilot program undertaken by Kaiser Permanente, a text message appointment reminder reduced the number of missed appointments by 1,873 — at a total cost savings of $275,000. And a study published in Health Affairs this year saw improvements in medication adherence and A1C levels among University of Chicago health plan members with diabetes who participated in a pilot text message program.

c2b solutions has found that certain psychographic segments prefer text messages, while other segments prefer different media. c2b solutions 2015 study of the U.S. health care consumer, to be fielded mid-January, will explore over 50 media and information sources, to see which most influence their choices and behavior around health & wellness, hospitals and health insurance companies.

One of the innovative aspects of this study is a focus on message fatigue. c2b solutions worked with Ipsos, a leading global market research agency, to develop a unique approach to determining the point at which consumers receive so much information from a variety of health care providers that they “shut down” and begin to ignore it.

Once you understand the right message, the right channel, and the right frequency for reaching individual patients, implementing mHealth technologies can move you closer to meaningful use. To discover how psychographic segmentation can complement your existing patient data to improve outcomes, read our whitepaper or contact c2b solutions today.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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