RWJF grant to spur patient engagement at Partners

Partners HealthCare will soon develop a tool to better enable patient engagement thanks to a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The $468,000 grant will help the provider create a "Engagement Engine" to help patients overcome barriers to using personal wearable health devices, according to an announcement.

"Our patients are also consumers, and this engagement tool will allow us to interact with them in a new way, helping prevent the onset of chronic disease by enabling them to adopt healthy lifestyles," Kamal Jethwani, senior director of Connected Health Innovation at Partners HealthCare, said in the announcement.

Many health systems and companies around the U.S. are touting the abilities of wearables to gather health data and engage patients in their care, and the popularity of the tools is growing.

Smartwatches and fitness trackers will be at the forefront as the global wearable device market grows from 17 million shipments in 2013 to 187.2 million by 2020, representing a 34 percent market growth, according to a recent Tractica report.

However, when creating these devices, providers must make sure the software can be easily used by patients and be invited into using the tools by their doctors. "Engagement and adoption is tied to a personal invitation from someone you trust in the healthcare system," Neil Evans, co-director of Connected Health at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said in December at the mHealth Summit.

The first step for Partners will be to use big data analytics and user feedback to come up with an algorithm for identifying, purchasing and using the activity tracker, as well as a plan for the tool's users.

Partners also will conduct a study on the engine to find out what gets patients engaged and what doesn't.  

To learn more:
- here's the announcement

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