Cardiologist: Telemedicine can propel patient engagement

Telemedicine can be a catalyst to increasing patient engagement, according to Brigham and Women's Hospital cardiologist Reena Pande, who says consumers who receive care when and where they want it more likely will be compelled to actively participate in monitoring their health.

"They may not wait a week or more to get into their PCP's office or an emergency department," Pande says of patients in an interview with mHealth Intelligence. "They may be more apt to use the new mechanism and that might make access to care more readily available."

What's more, she says, with all of the technology available to patients and providers, she can't understand why, at least for routine appointments, the former is still required to go out of their way to physically visit the latter. Changes to that dynamic should be seen not as a burden but rather as a benefit, she says.

"That's a mindset shift that physicians and other providers need to entertain in order for telehealth care to really take off," Pande says.

However, no two patients are alike, panelists said at the recent HIMSS Policy Summit in the District of Columbia, which makes engagement a difficult process.

"There's a certain kind of patient that really responds to [technology]," said Von Nguyen, a senior adviser with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center. "But there are other patients where you could put the fanciest computer ... up there and you will get nothing. ... This process of patient engagement will be different depending on the patient population. Really being able to identify what is truly important to the patient and subsequently being able to provide those services in a meaningful way will be critical to hit the mark of patient engagement."

Still, as the population shifts to a higher concentration of patients who have used digital technology their whole lives, digital consumer-like conveniences are going to become more of a demand, Tampa General Hospital CIO Scott Arnold recently told FierceHealthIT. The healthcare industry is 10 to 15 years behind the times when it comes to technology, he said, and must provide the conveniences people already get in other realms of life.

To learn more:
- read the mHealth Intelligence interview