Guest post by Edward Keiper, president and CEO of Velocity Managed Services.
Patient-centered healthcare technology is putting the power of good health into patients’ hands. All of the changes in American healthcare regulations point to one top priority, and that’s patient centered care. Why does this matter? Because patients who are empowered to manage their own health are more likely to be proactive and, theoretically, therefore healthier.
Knowledge in the world of healthcare can be a great thing, and the technology community is responding with thousands of apps and other healthcare IT initiatives, such as activity tracking devices and websites designed to help consumers keep close track of their wellness.
One of the most popular wellness devices, FitBit, figured prominently in a recent study published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery. “Functional Recovery in the Elderly After Major Surgery: Assessment of Mobility Recovery Using Wireless Technology” is a great example of how providers can reap more value from investment in health IT. It turns out that patients who monitor their activity are more likely to engage in self-care.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic provided FitBits to 149 post-surgical heart patients. The researchers determined that using the FitBit to monitor mobility wirelessly was “easy and practical, and led to a significant relationship between the number of steps taken in the early recovery period, length of stay and dismissal disposition. The research indicates that an activity monitor such as a FitBit could positively affect post-discharge outcomes by empowering patients to take their recovery into their own hands. Better discharge outcomes leads to lower costs in the long run. This is just one example of many.
At the moment, there are two separate areas of health IT adoption in America: patients and providers. For providers, the push is to meet and maintain meaningful use guidelines to receive HITECH incentives and avoid Affordable Care Act penalties for hospital readmissions for specific groups of Medicare patients.
But if you look at how healthcare IT is being utilized by patients through efforts such as the FitBit, you quickly realize that the information is not yet optimized because it is siloed. Imagine how much more powerful healthcare data would be when patient and provider information is merged!
Consumers are producing data outside of healthcare providers’ health IT systems. Most of this information can’t be incorporated into EHRs as they are configured currently. But there will come a time when that data can combine with healthcare claims information, not only to create a more complete view of total health and well-being, but to dramatically reduce overall healthcare spending and provide powerful ROI metrics.