We have all heard of the transformative power of the Internet – connecting people, enhancing experiences, raising productivity, and driving innovation. Now, as healthcare shifts to digital, the impact of the Internet on healthcare is being felt in novel ways, such as empowering patients to be more involved in their care and allowing clinicians to provide more efficient, effective services.
In this blog post, we will discuss how the Internet is being used in healthcare and how it is being leveraged to better engage patients and transform care. We will also touch on some of the challenges that have arisen as a result of this digital transformation and how they might be overcome.
Transforming Healthcare Through E-Patient Engagement
In the past, the majority of healthcare interactions took place in person. Between visits, patients would get the doctor’s notes typed up on letterpresses and doctors would visit patients in person as much as possible. These kinds of direct personal interactions are still common in rural areas, but advancements in technology have allowed for more efficient means of communication and increased convenience for patients.
The rise of e-patient engagement can be traced back to 1999, when a consortium of healthcare companies, led by Omnicare, established the Electronic Health Records (EHR) Informer in order to increase patient involvement and engagement in their care. Since then, the field of e-patient engagement has mushroomed, with a host of tools now available to engage patients in care planning and documentation. Examples of e-patient engagement tools include patient portals, electronic messaging, and online consultation platforms.
E-patient engagement is all about empowering patients to be more involved in their care, and giving them better access to the information that they need. It can be used for a variety of purposes, including:
- Better understanding of their health status
- Follow-up on treatment plans
- Reducing medical errors
- Increasing patient engagement
- Quality improvement
- and more
It would be a missed opportunity not to mention the fact that the Internet and e-patient engagement have arrived now more than ever before. In the past, the Internet was mainly used for research or for searching for a particular service. Now, with the majority of healthcare interactions taking place online, it is the perfect medium for engagement.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses across the world have shifted to remote working and online collaboration platforms, like Zoom and Teams, have taken over as the de facto means of communication. These platforms have made it easier for healthcare providers to engage with patients online, and the resultant increase in digital contact during this pandemic has likely led to some improvements in healthcare outcomes, most notably in lowering mortality rates among patients with COVID-19.
The increase in digital contact that we have experienced during this pandemic has also encouraged healthcare organizations to explore new ways of working and providing care. The imperative to contain costs and care for patients more efficiently led to a digital reformation of healthcare, including the shift towards e-patient engagement. This, in turn, has led to healthcare organizations embracing new ways of working, including the use of medical students, recent graduates, and even retired healthcare professionals.
e-Patient Engagement And The Future Of Healthcare
The future of healthcare is undoubtedly digital, and as a result of the pandemic, even more prominently so. In order to effectively transform healthcare, healthcare organizations must be prepared to make some significant changes. These changes will not only impact how healthcare is provided, but will affect the way that patients engage with their care as well.
As healthcare shifts to digital, there are a number of challenges that arise, the foremost of which is security. Healthcare is a highly regulated industry, and any breach or malicious activity associated with patient data is a serious matter. The industry has shifted to embracing digital transformation, however, there are numerous challenges that exist along with the opportunities that it brings.