How Connected Health Can Change Your Practice
As the population grows and chronic disease develops at rapid speeds, it’s increasingly important to implement customized, efficient medical practices. Healthcare innovation and research have allowed medical professionals to treat patients in new, effective ways with the rise of technology.
One method that is coming quickly to the surface is the Connected Health model.
What is Connected Health?
Patients need to be able to manage their health and wellness easily and efficiently throughout their lives, which includes monitoring and sending data about their daily health status and communicating with their healthcare providers, pharmacists and family members who need to be kept in the loop. One of the most self-evident solutions to bridge this gap in communication is to transition the healthcare industry to a semi or fully digital space.
However, implementing technological solutions has not always been successful in the past. The lack of technological software, framework and industry standardization has made it difficult to institute a global practice.
The current challenges in implementing this model include optimizing the process of collecting accurate data from patients in regular environments; mining large datasets from the home and community to study the correlation between that data and a patient’s health status; and designing and evaluating technological platforms that meet patient needs, according to the data.
With the help of advanced healthcare technology and increased education, a new model of patient access is being defined and refined to overcome these challenges and provide patients and practices with useful information.
“Connected Health” is a term that’s been used recently to refer to the technology-based model of healthcare delivery. In this model, wireless, digital, electronic, and mobile devices and services are provided to patients, based on their needs.
From these devices and interventions, the patient’s health-related data is shared across their medical and pharmaceutical teams. This ensures that everyone involved in the patient’s care is connected by the data and processes put in place, based on each patient’s customized plan.
Developing and redefining industry standards surrounding healthcare information and technology is not something that will be adopted on a large scale without testing, numerous studies and evidence of its benefits to patient care. The biggest gap in evidence currently is the inability to connect technology itself (which has already proven not to be a roadblock) to useful outcomes from the data it yields in designing new care models.
While there have been recent studies that report that the use of technology to monitor patients at home can have a positive effect on their care experience, clinical outcomes and financial savings are minimal.
There are a number of reasons that can account for the lack of outstanding results at this point in the research, and researchers are hopeful that evidence will continue to support the philosophy of a Connected Health approach.
How does Connected Health benefit patients?
This model puts the patient at the center of all healthcare plans and strategies. Every stakeholder involved will be able to access the same data, design specific treatment plans that will target their area of expertise, and provide acute healthcare solutions.
The patient experience will be enhanced by increasing their involvement in reporting their health status as well. Whether their data is collected as biomedical metrics like heart rate or temperature, or reported as a more subjective evaluation, such as symptoms or feelings, patients will have full line of sight to the information that will be sent to their medical team, ensuring it is accurate and updated.
Patients will also be able to provide feedback to their healthcare team by means of technological data solutions, as well as communicate with their providers more quickly. Telehealth, for example, allows patients to speak to their providers using video conference platforms.
How does Connected Health benefit medical professionals?
Connected Health also allows providers to be in constant communication with their patients, staff and colleagues. Physicians can share consults, information and expertise with one another throughout patient care, eliminating the wait time and multi-step communication process between offices.
The Connected Health model allows medical professionals steer away from reactive healthcare solutions and lean into a more proactive stance. While digital messages – even securely sent messages – cannot substitute in-person medical care, they can sometimes ease a patient’s worry in some cases and save them a trip to the doctor’s office, saving the provider time and money as well.
Healthcare providers and planners are also able to view the patient’s status on a granular level through a Connected Health model of care. Instead of waiting for an annual exam, physicians can monitor and evaluate symptoms and progress in smaller time frames, filling in gaps between visits and providing care quickly to prevent diseases from escalating.
How can Connected Health improve your practice?
Connected Health provides healthcare practices with a new methodology that can improve internal systems, patient care, IT efficiency and communication. Improving communication and technological systems across office staff can streamline the care process, from the waiting room to the operating room.
Whether it’s reporting, operating or prescribing, technology and digital solutions require a significant amount of implementation and education for medical professionals. However, once the systems are secured and enforced, practices can operate at a higher efficiency and patients will receive more accurate, data-supported care.
What is the future of Connected Health?
Additional research is being conducted to understand the full scope of benefits that can be offered by a Connected Health approach to patient care:
- Tech specialists will continue to optimize and streamline the data collected from wearable or mobile devices that are used in uncontrolled environments.
- Data analysts will continue to understand how best to transform data into usable information for patient care plans.
- Care planners will continue to evaluate options for care pathways between data, medical services and safety controls.
- Healthcare providers will continue to leverage feedback methods to communicate with and educate patients on managing their health and wellness.
- Healthcare industry professionals will continue to implement Connected Health into practices and business models, moving the needle for technology in the medical space.
The Connected Health model, if approached holistically, has the potential to empower patients, practices and healthcare providers to understand and respond to health-related information at critical checkpoints. If given the ability and resources to re-imagine healthcare and wellness, patients, physicians and practices will be able to transition into radically improved health and social care.