Latest Thinking

The 5 essentials of health technology adoption

April 25, 2018

By Shannon Malovec, Principal, Patient Engagement

Technology can help us do amazing things. But ultimately it’s people who make or break it: by embracing technology – or giving it the cold shoulder. With healthcare technology demonstrating real impact on engaging patients, improving health and lowering costs, it’s worth the effort to hit it out of the park. From our experience in small to large-scale health technology projects in clinic, regional and provincial settings, we’ve distilled the five essentials for technology solutions that patients and clinicians love and use, and that deliver on their long-term promise.

1. Foster closer relationships between patients and providers

Patients used to be the object of clinical care. But it’s different now. We know that, as owners of our bodies, we not only have the most at stake, we can also have the most impact on our own health. So when patients say that a technology helps build trust with their doctors, nurses and pharmacists, and that it makes them feel like valuable members of their own healthcare team, it’s a sign that better health outcomes are not far behind.

“The personal health record resulted in an increased sense of partnership with my health care provider.” – Saskatchewan personal health record pilot program participant

Because engagement is the most impactful element of any health solution, don’t miss the opportunity to bring patients and providers closer together, whether through collaboration, communication or co-monitoring.

2. Ensure ease of use and convenience for all

If technology is complicated, slow or hard to use, people won’t use it: simple as that. Usability masters like Apple and Google have set the bar high with everyday technology. Why would patients or clinicians tolerate clunky healthcare tools?

Patients and clinicians need to feel that the technology makes their lives easier in some way. Does it offer a more convenient and efficient way to do ordinary things like refill a prescription, communicate about a health problem or book an appointment? Then they’re in.

Every step of the way must be fast and intuitive, from enrolment to daily interaction through mobile anytime, anywhere access. So put patients and providers at the heart of the process by gathering input on tasks and usability. And consult, test, consult and test again to get the workflows right.

Clinicians in two B.C. Health Authorities (Island and Interior) reported 100% satisfaction with the ease of use of their remote patient monitoring solution.

3. Provide complete, accurate, up-to date information

If the data‘s wrong, out-of-date, or it’s just a narrow slice, patients won’t see the value of coming back.

For a complete patient picture, data must come from multiple sources like clinical systems, provincial assets, and patient-maintained data. To be accurate, all that data must be properly integrated. To be current, aggregation and integration must be constant. When you can offer access to complete, accurate and up-to-date health information such as medications, current conditions, vaccinations records or lab results, both patients and providers see the same holistic healthcare picture. Everyone’s more informed and appointment time is better spent.

“Access to my results prior to a medical appointment means more value during the appointment.” – Saskatchewan personal health record pilot program participant

4. Offer extraordinary, valuable service

Give users a reason to keep coming back to your tool. Appointment reminders? Flu shot alerts? Online learning opportunities for managing a chronic condition? The ability to share your own health metrics with your care team? Always-current dashboards for providers to better understand their patient population as a whole?

Valuable extras can be the enticement people need to engage over the long term.

Clinics using the EMR portal notice an increase in logins after sending out flu shot alerts or breast cancer screening awareness messages.

5. Ensure complete security

Health information is highly personal, and people rightly worry about it being used in ways they didn’t intend. If you let them worry, they won’t trust your system, and adoption will be low.

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