By Naireet Ghosh, Analyst, MIHM
Historically, the healthcare industry has been relatively reluctant in adopting technology for non-clinical processes. Only recently, care providers seem to have realized the value of enhancing patient experience by the use of technology in order to improve healthcare outcomes. This is evident from the recent boom of the patient engagement solutions market globally. In this article, we look at how some entrepreneurs are helping India keep up with this global change.
At the Health 2.0 conference organized at ISB Hyderabad last month, Madhubala Radhakrishnan, founder of mCURA, demonstrated the clinical management software that her company has recently launched. This software, in addition to providing an interactive user interface to care, providers that enables the efficient flow of information within the organization, also allows patients to interact with providers through mobile devices outside the clinical setting. Forgot your appointment thanks to your busy schedule? No worries! The mCURA application will send you an SMS reminder a day ahead of the appointment. Reached the hospital, but don’t want to wait outside the doctor’s chamber for your token number to arrive? No worries! You can now spend time at the hospital cafeteria while the mCURA application updates you of the current token number. Other features include medicine reminders, video advice to patients, etc.
mCURA isn’t the only player that is aiming to use technology to change the way that patients interact with the rest of the healthcare ecosystem. Medsolis has a mobile application that acts as a portal for the patient to communicate with the care provider. In addition to providing smart alerts and reminders, it also allows patients to chat with participating physicians and care managers. Healtho5’s online patient portal goes a step further in building a trustworthy relationship with the patient by making them feel supported and appreciated. Timely response to any trouble that the patient may be going through, motivating them to keep going at moments of weakness, persuading them to regularly record their vitals and to not skip follow-up appointments are some of the practices built into Healtho5’s mobile application. Navia Life Care, Saviance, and PharmaSecure are some of the other players that are trying to get a foothold into this USD 8 billion (approx., globally) patient engagement solutions market.
One might ask why the sudden buzz about patient engagement. Traditionally, patients have played a passive role in managing their health. Even the educated class of patients has been reluctant in completing the entire course of medicine, following post-consultation exercise and diet regimens, and attending follow-up visits. The patient engagement solutions seek to change that by making patients active participants in their care. As a basic step, this would mean understanding when and where you need to seek care from. Making and keeping appointments, active participation in medical decision making, compliance with the caregiver’s advice, putting efforts to make healthy lifestyle changes, and open communication with the caregiver are some of the other components of patient engagement. Bringing about such a major change in healthcare delivery would have been difficult a decade back. But today, with technology bridging communication gaps and fostering information sharing, the healthcare ecosystem is poised to make patients an active participant in managing their health.
Patient engagement works wonders for the healthcare industry in ways more than one. The most obvious way would be in leading to better health outcomes. It can also reduce costs by making scheduling more efficient, by reducing dependence on non-clinical staff in hospitals, and by integrating insurance and payments in the patient portal. By getting patients involved and encouraging them to communicate openly with caregivers, the patient experience can be enhanced, thus leading to better patient retention. Furthermore, the patient engagement software can collect a myriad of information about patient behavior which can be used by the healthcare community to improve health outcomes of the population as a whole. Patient engagement can, therefore, be rightfully be termed as “The Blockbuster Drug of the Century” .