Hospitals, doctors, and physicians all understand the importance of patient engagement, and health app development is quickly becoming one of the key tools to drive and strengthen patient-provider relationships.
Mobile health (mHealth) apps and tools are assisting patients to become more involved in the management of their own health, empowering them to take an active role through access to their medical records, and tracking or measuring health conditions. As consumers have embraced mobile phones and emerging technologies, they have also started to embrace the value of mHealth.
Research has found that consumers would actually favor a mobile app prescription from their physician rather than a medicine prescription. Physicians are placed in a key position to directly influence consumer use of mHealth – and consumers who use these tools are much more likely to adhere to advice and be proactive about treatment.
Apps are being recognized as a powerful tool to enhance the engagement that already occurs face-to-face between physician and patient. Yet, in order to enable maximum benefit, it’s important that physicians understand their patient’s preferences and their readiness to make behavioral change.
The future and strength of health app development lies in a “one size does not fit all” patient engagement approach. Apps that can assist patients through their evolving needs, and address the needs and wants of diverse patient groups, will ultimately deliver the most value and enhance engagement levels.
People are different and motivation doesn’t happen in the same way for everyone. mHealth developers will need to be clear about how an app can support patients and in which stage of change, and physicians will need to be clear about which apps to recommend.
In the case of a patient aware of the need for change, but still deciding about taking action, apps that provide disease-specific information and answers to questions will be of the most benefit. In contrast, if a patient is actively changing their behavior, an app that supports them in their daily goals will hold the most benefit.
Furthermore, there is potential benefit from mobile health tools in highly integrated and user-friendly software. If patients are using a portal, they are most likely doing so on a mobile device, so it makes sense to develop highly customizable ways for patients to schedule appointments or obtain lab results. If the technology is intuitive, it will boost patient engagement.
Patient engagement can be further catapulted through improved dialogue inside and outside a clinical setting. In contact with their physician, patients can share data from another healthcare provider or previously recorded information from wearable devices. In a remote setting, patients can track specific activity goals, facilitate the exchange of information with their health provider, and receive support to aid in reaching their health goals.
As the mobile health environment continues to evolve, consumers are becoming more open to adopting apps to manage their personal health. As they are slowly immersed in everyday life, the potential to improve patient-provider engagement through the use of effective, situation and behavior specific apps, will ultimately lead to better health results for the entire medical industry.