A 2017 study finds that about 78 percent of consumers want access to virtual health services. Another study finds nearly half of patients would be more likely to follow their prescribed treatment plans if they received encouragement and coaching from their doctors between visits. As consumers ramp up their demand for “care everywhere” and the government and industry accelerate value-based payments, providers are increasingly integrating low-cost remote patient monitoring technologies into their care delivery strategies.

Gauging the current environment

“The operating principle in healthcare today is disruption,” says Dunnie Norman, senior vice president of sales at Vivify Health, an international digital health company. “While pressures on providers escalate to contain costs and avoid hospital readmission penalties, traditional brick-and-mortar care delivery is shifting beyond the four walls of the hospital, clinic, and doctor’s office.

“In this disruptive world, patients are more proactive than ever before about their health. They want an ‘instant on,’ engaging, and empowering experience through technology – just as they have it in other areas of their life, from banking to travel to social connections.”

Giving patients what they want

According to Penny Martellino, RN, a clinical consultant with Vivify, consumers today are looking to their healthcare providers to deliver on three expectations: access, convenience, and choice. “The answer,” she says, “is remote care technologies.”

“Patients as consumers want more than the annual visit to the doctor’s office, where they often wait for hours to be seen. With remote care, they have an immediate link to the care team, have their health conditions regularly monitored, and receive timely intervention as needed to prevent adverse events or costly trips to the hospital.”

Patients also want to choose the technology they use to better manage their health. “At Vivify, our solutions run the gamut, from interactive voice response to fully managed kits to BYOD (bring your own device),” Martellino says. “This range ensures that all patients have the right option to best match their level of access and technological know-how.

Galvanizing patient self-management

“Patients not understanding their conditions is probably the top reason why they can’t self-manage and are often forced to use the healthcare system unnecessarily,” Norman says. “Our video content and customized health tips provide easy-to-absorb information on every health condition and what to do if it worsens.”

“Many of our patients are coping with multiple complex chronic diseases,” Martellino adds. “We teach them to view their care management holistically instead of through a siloed perspective. We’ve also built medication reminders into the technology, providing timely alerts to the care team to follow up on any signs of noncompliance.”

Generating better outcomes

Satisfied patients are typically more compliant patients, and compliance leads to better clinical and financial outcomes.

“When patients feel good about the care they’re receiving, they are more likely to follow their individual care plans,” Martellino says. “To help drive compliance, our care managers develop a bond of accountability – from clinician to patient, and from patient to clinician – beginning with the first virtual visit. Throughout each care encounter, they focus on building the patient relationship. Contrary to the observation that technology removes the personal part of care, we’ve found it actually improves genuine connection.”

For example, care teams offer not only medical guidance, but personal outreach such as Happy Birthday messages. For patients who are remotely monitored on a Monday-through-Friday schedule, care teams also provide the extra touch of checking in with patients right before the weekend. “One customer calls this ‘the Friday tuck-in,’” Martellino explains. “Care teams make sure patients have everything they need to get through the weekend without incident. Questions are anticipated and answered — and procedures are always in place to respond to any emergencies.”  

Going the distance

Patient feedback about the Vivify experience speaks volumes. Martellino offers two examples. “One patient wrote, ‘Words cannot express the gratitude I have for this program and the people implementing it.’ Another reported, ‘The directions, the ease of operation, the almost-instant responses to questions, and the follow-up when my numbers weren’t quite right – all of it was amazing!’

“Clearly, consumers will continue to look for faster, easier, and better healthcare,” Norman says. “In response, we can expect providers to rely increasingly on digital platforms that deliver on these expectations – removing distance barriers to provide the best possible quality of care.”

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