- Posted by Thomas J. Morrow, M.D.
- On January 22, 2016
- Cognitive Health Tech
The focus in today’s healthcare market has shifted from seeing as many patients as possible to proving that value has been delivered with each interaction.
Does this mean slowing down? Extending office visits beyond 15 minutes? Serving fewer patients?
As Frost & Sullivan’s whitepaper explains, the key to proving value while continuing to serve a high volume of patients is through the use of cognitive technology that gives patients the tools to effectively manage their health while dramatically improving the flow of information between the patient and provider. Let’s take a look at how it can help your organization meet its goals for patient care.
The science of behavior change
Numerous studies prove that patients are much more likely to take their meds if coached every day. But until now, providing this type of intervention has been cost prohibitive. Virtual health assistants (VHAs), are digital coaches configured to support each patient’s unique needs – greatly increasing their chances of changing unhealthy behaviors. And they interact with patients right on their smartphones, tablets or PCs.
Like an experienced healthcare professional, VHAs take into account factors that might negatively affect compliance – like lack of disease knowledge, unrealistic expectations for treatment, financial hardship or ambivalence and resistance – and respond appropriately, providing education about their disease and the importance of treatment, answering questions about medications and their side effects, using motivational interviewing techniques to show patients that deep down, they really want to be healthy, and even enlisting help from the patient’s loved ones.
Responsive, up-to-date treatment
Currently, patient/provider communication is limited to just a few minutes per year, which restricts how responsive providers can be to a patient’s changing condition. VHAs help physicians efficiently monitor progress of all patients and easily make alterations to each treatment plan – a capability that greatly reduces the risk of over- or under-medication and that can allow a physician to detect potentially life-threatening conditions.
In addition to providing a simple way to keep tabs on med adherence and data from medical devices, cognitive technology offers other novel capabilities: measuring efficacy of rheumatoid arthritis drugs, ensuring adherence to the $1000 pill for HCV or sending pictures of rashes caused by cancer drugs. Physicians can send the patient instructional videos. A VHA can administer clinical and health assessment tests. In the case of emergency, the VHA can make a 911 call, using GPS to provide the patient’s location. Integration with wearables, like Fitbit, and medical devices like glucometers and spirometers provides another valuable stream of data. VHAs can even record how the patient is feeling from day to day, their attitude toward treatment and other non-clinical factors that can help physicians determine barriers to adherence.
With a VHA, every interaction is trackable, and data is easily monitored. The VHA records when a patient takes their medication and will automatically engage if a dose isn’t tracked – encouraging them to follow their treatment regimen and asking what factors may be contributing to nonadherence. And, because the system can act as a centralized data repository, clinical, actionable data that may have been lost otherwise can be securely shared with all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem.
With a VHA, value becomes both easier to create and easier to prove.