Strategies To Engage Consumers In Data Sharing To Improve Healthcare

By George Mathew, chief medical officer, North America, DXC Technology

George Mathew

Connected consumers, and their data, will play a critical role in transforming the next era of healthcare. In fact, global industry analyst IDC predicts that by the end of 2020, 25 percent of the data used in medical care will be collected and shared with healthcare systems by patients themselves.

Using devices, such as wearable fitness trackers, biometrics, implants and digital voice assistants, patients will generate real-time information about their diet, fitness and sleep habits, mood and purchasing behavior. Providers will be able to access and analyze a more complete picture of each patient, enabling them to make better care decisions, faster.

However, for this trend to truly drive transformation, organizations will need innovative approaches to care delivery that engage patients to actively share their healthcare data and participate in directing their own health services.

Patient-friendly Care Delivery

As increasingly empowered consumers, patients are demanding a shift from the traditional reactive model of healthcare toward one that is more proactive, continuous and collaborative in delivering the most relevant care when and how it is needed. Recognizing this trend, many healthcare organizations are investing in tools that are designed to provide more personalized patient experiences.

Patient-centered care tools can include electronic portals, mobile applications, wearables, chatbots or patient relationship management systems that capture more data and enable patients to conveniently access their health information. Patients can also use these digital tools to more-readily monitor their care plans, communicate with providers, access support networks, request appointments and prescription refills, and support behavioral changes through push notifications that guide them toward the next-best actions for maintaining their health. They can become more involved, and engaged, in managing their own health and building a robust record of actionable data.

For health organizations to maximize patient-driven insights, they can prioritize digital platforms that automate data collection, integration and measurement to reduce patient effort, and to ensure that analytics capabilities are as predictive as possible to amplify preventive services.  

Transparency and Collaboration

Providers will also need to earn and maintain patients’ trust by approaching care decisions collaboratively and being transparent about how patient data may be collected and used to drive health outcomes. Healthcare organizations may consider creating an information base of health data with shared access by patients, providers and third-party communities where the patient feels a strong affinity, such as their fitness center or employee wellness program. Through proper consent and individualized access based on role, multiple entities can contribute and extract from this pool of data, driving richer insights for acute health concerns or providing “dashboards” for longer-term well-being and family health.    

Additionally, providers can view patients as partners in working toward shared incentives in value-based care. For example, digital health apps could be used to analyze all available data and bundle health services into care-plan options that optimize provider resources. This approach helps patients personalize a plan based on their desired outcomes, budget and lifestyle goals.

Healthcare providers may also consider establishing official partnerships with self-organizing patient cooperatives designed to collate their data and work as a group to trade aggregated information for discounted health services and financial incentives. This type of model could, for example, allow the cooperative to pool their data to pre-buy services or procedures directly from providers. In both examples, providers can offer affordable, personalized care while strengthening their relationships with patients and, ultimately, creating a truly connected healthcare system.

Next Steps

There’s no question that patient-generated health data has become a valuable resource for providers. Healthcare organizations that can engage patients to collect and share their personal health data will derive rich, new insights that positively influence clinical decisions and drive higher quality care. To do this successfully, providers can prioritize personalized inpatient, outpatient and virtual services that combine consumer-friendly technologies and innovative incentives. Improved patient experiences and clinical effectiveness will create new opportunities and imperatives to advance the future of care.  

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