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Tech Partnerships May Be Critical to Improving Patient Outcomes

shaking-hands-for-businessAs health technology rapidly evolves, healthcare organizations sometimes struggle to keep up. Implementing mandated technologies like EHRs and demonstrating meaningful use — while simultaneously providing quality patient care — is daunting enough. How can you also take on the challenge of developing your own products or systems to meet the demands of today’s uber-connected healthcare consumers?

You don’t have to do it alone, as evidenced be some recent, high-profile partnerships. Increasingly, healthcare-related organizations are partnering with companies that have the tools and technology needed to leverage your data for improving patient outcomes.

Mayo Clinic Takes Center Stage with Apple

The hype over the new iPhone 6 and “Bendgate” may have overshadowed news of Apple’s HealthKit platform, but when the furor dies down, all eyes will turn to the potential of this new tool for bridging the information gap between consumers and providers.

One provider, in particular, has demonstrated its commitment to HealthKit.

For two years, the Mayo Clinic has collaborated with Apple on the design of HealthKit. There’s a good reason for the Mayo Clinic’s interest.

CEO John Noseworthy told Forbes in an interview that the Mayo Clinic hopes to “triple its footprint and serve 200 million patients by the year 2020.” Given that Apple expects to sell 235 million iPhones in the next year, having a tool that could conceivably connect health data that a consumer compiles through apps with the Mayo Clinic’s more robust data management system could help the clinic move much closer to that goal.

The Mayo Clinic has one pilot app in place for the iPhone. A service that alerts patients when Apple apps detect abnormal health results is being tested already. The service would facilitate scheduling patients for a follow-up visit based on the data received. Other apps are currently being developed.

Humana Hopes HealthKit Engages Patients

Just days after the launch of HealthKit, another prominent player in healthcare announced it has an app that integrates with HealthKit. MarketWatch recently confirmed that Humana — which describes itself as a “leading health and well-being company focused on making it easy for people to achieve their best health with clinical excellence through coordinated care” — is debuting HumanaVitality®, an iPhone app that allows consumers to manage fitness data and share it with Humana. How does it work?

  • Users create and track wellness goals such as increasing activity, eating healthier foods, losing weight or reducing stress.
  • Humana sets other goals, such as getting a biometrics screening or walking 10,000 steps a day.
  • Users grant HealthKit and Humana access to the data.

The app incentivizes positive behaviors by awarding Vitality Points™ when users achieve wellness goals. The points can be “spent” on movie tickets, music downloads, fitness devices and gift cards at the HumanaVitality Mall.

According to Humana’s President and CEO, Bruce Broussard, “As more consumers use Apple Health, the platform can also help the health care industry leverage the power of technology to further transform the consumer health experience.”  The reward-based system just may be the ticket for improving patient outcomes — at least for some patient groups. c2b solutions has found that different consumer segments are motivated by different things, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

Still More Work to Do

Of course, the unveiling of HealthKit– like other high-profile health technology launches — experienced a rather rocky start.

HealthKit apps were pulled from the Apple iTunes store pending several operating system updates, and now developers are rushing to test and resubmit their apps to Apple. Security concerns regarding the iCloud are also top of mind following the celebrity photo hacking scandals in recent weeks. What’s more, healthcare providers still need to find ways to connect with patients who aren’t early adopters of the latest technologies.

That means hospitals and physicians need to still reach out to patients through more traditional means.

A tool like the c2b Consumer Diagnostic can help. Offering a detailed view of today’s healthcare consumer, the study is comprised of data from a national survey of nearly 5,000 patient-consumers to measure consumers’ attitudes and behaviors regarding healthcare, including the use of technology, apps, websites and social media.

This resource provides insights that can help your organization craft effective messages for increasing medication compliance, encouraging healthier behaviors and improving patient outcomes among your less connected patients.

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