Perspective: The Balance of High Touch and High Tech in Patient Engagement
This IDC Health Insights Perspective reveals the key attributes of improved engagement and analyzes a number of emerging trends in the balance of high touch and high technology. The issue of patient engagement in health is not new. It has been widely recognized in the healthcare industry that the key to sustainable savings and quality improvement is linked to the ability to engage patients in their health to change unhealthy behavior. Historically, patient engagement was performed typically by nurses who reached out to patients enrolled in disease management programs by phone to check on their progress/compliance to their care plan. It quickly became evident that the cost of such labor-intensive outreach was not financially sustainable. Technology was limited to patient portals that required the patient to actively go to the Web site to record results — to get information.
As the availability of new technology, texting, and secure email grew, much of patient engagement moved to this high-technology approach. Neither high tech nor high touch produced the desired results. Healthcare organizations are establishing programs that balance the use of nurses and high touch with technology. This approach requires learning much more about patients over and above their clinical conditions. Factors such as financial stability and family commitments will impact the ability of a patient to change unhealthy behavior. Emerging strategies include taking advantage of "teachable moments" and providing information at the point of care that alerts clinicians of key issues, progress, and gaps in care for their patient.