- Posted by Chandra Turner
- On August 6, 2012
- Intelligent Virtual Assistants, Patient Engagement, Patient Experience
When it comes to doctors’ prescribed instructions being followed by patients, the statistics are alarming:
- Only 50–70% of all prescriptions actually get filled
- Of the ones that get filled, only 50% actually get picked up
- Only 25% of the above amount are actually taken by the patient
- Out of 100 written first-time prescriptions, only 15–20 get refilled as prescribed
The reasons for this vary: People stop taking medications when they feel better, even though the disease isn’t cured; people forget to take their meds; or there may be a poor patient/provider relationship. Regardless of the reason, the cost of this lack of adherence to physician instruction – or “noncompliance,” in the industry’s terms – is high, both in terms of dollars and patient well-being:
- Accounts for up to 11% of all hospital admissions
- Correlates to 125,000 deaths each year
- Is the driving force behind $290 billion in annual medical costs
Patient adherence can be improved through better education, real-time behavioral interventions, improving the dosing schedule and, most importantly, by improving doctor/patient communication. The problem? In the next 15 years, it’s estimated that the shortage of doctors in the United States will reach 150,000. With providers stretched thin, it will become increasingly difficult for them to find the time to effectively council patients on the importance of compliance.
While adequate one-on-one physician time may be hard to come by in the very near future, one thing is certain – more and more patients will always have a powerful tool at their side: a smartphone or tablet. It is time to leverage the power of this constant companion.
Virtual Health Assistants
Virtual Health Assistants (VHAs) are conversationally-enabled interfaces that offer a wide range of tools that can help extend a physician’s ability to deliver highly-personalized healthcare. For example, a VHA can remind patients to take their medication and, more importantly, they can gather quality of life information about how they are feeling on a daily basis.They can offer words of encouragement and motivation. They can allow healthcare providers to remotely monitor compliance and patient health data. And they can quickly and accurately answer nearly any question the patient may have about their treatment regimen. In fact, studies have shown that patients often feel comfortable asking the VHA questions that they’d be embarrassed to ask an actual physician.
With VHAs, not only is patient compliance and health improved: the benefits extend to all involved: Providers save time spent on compliance counseling and education, have a more complete view the patient because of the Patient-Generated Health Data capabilities, and are able to devote more time to complex cases. Employers who are paying for healthcare are able to offer employees and their families a personal health assistant that can engage, empower, and enable them to become more accountable for their health; facilitate more effective wellness programs; and get chronic diseases under control – saving money, reducing absenteeism, and increasing productivity.
Learn more about how VHAs can help meet patient needs and provide a viable remedy to the impending physician shortage:
Download the Next IT white paper:
Virtual Health Assistants Ready to Take on Current Healthcare Challenges; or
Watch the Next IT webinar:
Improving Outcomes with Virtual Health Assistants