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Novel Patient Engagement Approach

November 9, 2015
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In my last blog I spoke to the potential benefits of patient engagement in meeting ARRA/MU Stage 3 objectives.  In a recent conversation I learned about some interesting technology that parallels my discussion of the inclusion of imaging, and the potential for technologies such as streaming.

The company of interest is Wellpepper, which is focused on improving patient engagement in treatment plans by means of electronic delivery.  Wellpepper operates as a software as a services (SaaS), and utilizes Amazon’s web services, and data is encrypted and not stored on the local device.  It supports any web or mobile device, and can deliver custom treatment plans and reminders electronically, as well as the ability to provide videos and tasks, and report patient outcomes.

The advantages are enormous: 

·         Improved patient experience, adherence and outcomes 

·         Reduced readmission fines 

·         More efficient delivery of care 

·         Decreased cost of care

Wellpepper references an Accenture study that shows that the majority of patients want digital reminders and follow up.  Sixty-three percent want these delivered on mobile devices, and over fifty-five percent of the US population already have Smartphone devices.  Surprisingly, the fastest growing segment of Smartphone adoption is among seniors! 

I can readily relate to this as a senior citizen myself.  I am continually frustrated by my healthcare provider’s insistence on printing a summary of treatment and follow up each time I visit.  And, the printers are not even printing double-sided!  I want that paper contract!!  I remind them on each visit how much easier it would be to send me this information electronically.

My interest in this technology is twofold:

(1)    I would encourage all healthcare providers to be examining technology such as Wellpepper in conjunction with an EMR, as it has the potential to improve patient engagement and quality of care, as well as lower costs

(2)    This may represent a platform/architecture that could be expanded to improve access to other patient treatment information such as test results and images, as it employs similar secure streaming technology

The interactive nature of the technology also means that it encompasses the ability to improve patient engagement rather than just statically delivering results or plans.  Again, if a target is the older patient, the more interactive and explanatory the delivery is, the more likely it is that the patient is to use it.  While focused on treatment plans, there clearly are other opportunities, such as delivery of pre-procedure instructions.

With the cost of devices coming down, it may even be effective for healthcare providers to provide the patient with a device during the course of treatment.  This might be overkill, but if the technology is effective at reducing healthcare costs and improving outcomes, it might be money well spent.

In the spirit of ARRA/MU Stage 3, improving patient engagement is a clear objective.  I think Wellpepper is on to something.  This is an exciting time for technology!

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