Feedback loops on patient health data key to engagement

Feedback loops connecting patients and their doctors are key to engaging and helping consumers, according to an article at NEJM Catalyst.

What patients really want is better health, not more health services, writes author Kevin Volpp, M.D., director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Wearables and other consumer devices hold the potential to improve self-management, but feedback loops help sustain consumer interest in using them, Volpp says.

"This is where advances in behavioral science can make enormous and as yet mostly unrealized contributions to medicine. Feedback loops can be created that are effective in keeping patients and providers alike engaged--for example, by alerting a physician office when a patient has markedly abnormal blood sugar or blood pressure, thereby allowing the clinicians to focus on patients at high risk without intervention," he says.

Behavioral science also can be used to give patients more choices and help them make decisions, such as when choosing health plans or providers, and in the alignment of patient and provider incentives towards improving health.

One of the problems has been doctors' resistance to patient-generated data, according to Joseph Kvedar, M.D. They tend to be more comfortable treating a patient's high blood pressure based on readings a couple of times a year than by using remote monitoring.

An exception is Carolinas Healthcare System, which is aiming for a "panoramic view of the patient" with an app that can pull in patient data from more than 70 different consumer devices and send it to the organization's electronic health record.

To learn more:
- here's the article