Get used to it: patient engagement and mHealth
April 25, 2014
This week saw the launch of the Personal Connected Health Alliance, a collaboration of three major players in the mHealth movement composed of the Continua Health Alliance, HIMSS and the mHealth Summit, with its promises to, in the words of acting chairman Clint McClellan, “engage consumers with their health via personalized solutions that are designed for user-friendly connectivity and meet their lifestyle needs.”
Read that again. And notice the phrases you don’t often see in conversations with the healthcare community – “engage consumers,” “personalized solutions,” “user-friendly connectivity” and “lifestyle needs.”
You’ll be seeing a lot more of those concepts in the future as healthcare moves away from the “doctor knows all” philosophy and more toward a shared decision-making process that includes the consumer (note: not the “patient,” but the “consumer”) and others in the caregiving team. It’s a tacit understanding that the physician needs to collaborate not only to improve clinical outcomes, but to convince an ever-more-involved-and-educated consumer that healthcare is an ongoing, everyday process.
As they say in mHealth circles, healthcare for too long has been “sick care;” now it’s time to change that phrase.
Why now? Because mHealth, for all its promise, is finally coming of age. Telehealth networks, home-monitoring solutions and wearable sensors are all beginning to prove their mettle as effective methods of collecting data (and, in many cases, delivering it to healthcare providers). What’s more, they’re being accepted and adopted by consumers, who ultimately will decide with continues engagement and their purchasing power whether these methods flourish.
“The PCHA believes that the success of personal connected health depends upon engaging consumers and ensuring that connected health solutions are responsive and compelling,” McClellan says. “We place high value on features such as convenience, mobility, interoperability, accessibility, entertainment, education and social connection – features driving the consumer market today. Standards-based interoperability facilitates the most convenient, secure and robust health data exchange and greatest utility of health information for personal and population health management.”
More words: “convenience, mobility, interoperability (OK, we’ve seen plenty of that word before), accessibility, entertainment, education and social connection.” These are directed at the consumer, not the physician. They indicate, as the title implies, a connection between consumer and provider, a shared decision-making process. And that process will only work if the consumer is invested and convinced.
This is where the nation’s healthcare system is going. It’s a long, gradual process, with successes and failures and fits and starts (as we’ve already seen). The PCHA is proof, however, that we’re in it for the long haul, and that we have to work with consumers to move the process forward.
“Consumers are demanding what they want and need from health services: Convenience. Ease of use. Access to health education. Inspiration and motivation. Connection. Flexibility. Simple tracking and trending. Support to manage health anytime, anywhere, ” McClellan concludes.
Sounds like words of wisdom to me. Now let’s see if the providers are paying attention.