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    Five ways technology can increase patient compliance

    The key to helping patients adhere to treatment plans is to make it easy for them to do so, which is why Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, is exploring how the tools patients use in everyday life, such as smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, can lend a hand in increasing patient engagement. “Our goal is to integrate patients' needs related to healthcare into their normal routines, including their daily use of digital technology,” says Jonathan Slotkin, MD, FAANS, medical director, Geisinger in Motion, a Geisinger Health System program that promotes the effective use of technology to initiate patient and provider activation across a distributed healthcare delivery network.

    Patients regularly use technology to help manage many aspects of their lives, says Slotkin. “If we can add healthcare to the list of other items they use technology for, we have a better chance of engaging them and increasing care adherence.”

    Here’s a closer look at how technological devices can increase patient compliance.

    Smartphone apps

    OscarOscarMany people increasingly use smartphone apps to manage their daily activities, interact with the outside world, and get news, information, and alerts, says Robert Oscar, RPh, chief executive officer, RxEOB, Richmond, Virginia. In fact, a late 2015 article published in the Journal of Anaesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology reported that more than 20,000 mobile apps tied to healthcare, fitness, and medicine exist today. Smartphone apps provide a way for patients to consolidate pertinent health information and to manage their health. Because many patients carry their smartphones with them, they can easily access the information.

    Linda Girgis, MD, FAAFP, Girgis Family Medicine, South River, New Jersey, sees many patients use this technology. “Apps can emit a sound when it’s time to take a medication, reminding patients when to do so,” she says. “Oftentimes, patients may not remember if they took a dose or not, but smartphone app alerts eliminate this uncertainty. Patients can also use alerts from apps to remind them of doctors’ appointments or when they need to schedule them.”

    GirgisGirgisIn addition, Girgis says apps can help patients keep track of information. For example, they may say they had bloodwork done a few weeks ago, when in fact it was several months ago. An app that tracks this information might prevent this error. “Relying on memory alone is fraught with errors,” Girgis says.

    Fitness apps monitor heart rate, count steps, and track movement and calories burned, encouraging wearers to keep moving. Specialized apps address factors related to conditions such as diabetes and oncology, as well as women’s health. “Apps provide an immense number of opportunities, and are an important part of making medical care mobile and improving wellness and patient engagement,” says Cynthia Ambres, MD, MS, a KPMG strategy partner based in Los Angeles and a member of the firm’s Global Healthcare Center of Excellence.

    Next: E-mail and text notifications

     

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