The digital health industry is enabling patients to manage their health conditions better than ever before. Apps, wearable technology and Bluetooth™ medical devices make the experience interactive and more relatable for patients, but we still face the challenge of retaining patients in digital health programs for extended periods of time.
Patients’ individual needs are key, and there is no “one size fits all” pathway to engagement. Enrolling patients into a program is one thing, but keeping patients engaged is quite another.
The best solution is to design integrated systems tailored to each patient population. The familiarity of mobile devices, and the ability to select tools according to patient population, makes mobile technology perfectly positioned to deliver health services. Patients’ lives are being improved this way but what about other stakeholders in the healthcare process?
The benefits of engaging patients in their own healthcare and helping them self-manage their conditions are clear, especially given the rising cost of healthcare around the world. However, there is a problem to be overcome – how can healthcare professionals (HCPs) manage the increase in information this brings? How do we prevent the process from becoming burdensome? The answer lies with technology that is able to integrate remote patient support into HCPs day-to-day activities.
Interactive digital health platforms with algorithms that generate an aggregated view of real-time data through dashboards, data visualizations and targeted reports offer an effective means of patient review. The use of predetermined criteria to alert the HCP if patients venture outside agreed limits also facilitates efficient intervention.
HCPs are constantly seeking opportunities to incorporate mobile solutions into their health programs, yet the majority of current programs are pilots, so how do we make this work in the long-term? Reusability. A single platform that can be customized for individual programs would greatly reduce the resources required to carry out and manage the process.
This approach is being implemented through therapy specific programs. For example, a diabetes digital health platform for a major pharmaceutical company provides core functionality but can be adapted to suit individual programs that serve different cohorts of patients. This allows individual programs to be tailored to specific requirements such as disease progression indicators and user interfaces. Moreover, it gives the healthcare provider a holistic view, so stakeholders can easily monitor key metrics, track recruitment quotas and receive real time updates.
The industry is still learning how best to integrate digital programs into existing healthcare systems. However, by taking a platform approach, programs can be developed to support all stakeholders. Such an approach enables the delivery of health services incorporating personalized, adaptive content that provides relevant support to patients, helping them to remain engaged. Furthermore, by aggregating patient data HCPs will have a tool that supports patients and integrates into their daily routine. They can also streamline program delivery, utilizing a common toolkit that can be refined for individual patient populations either for a specific condition or across multiple therapeutic areas.
An integrated approach of this kind leverages learnings from each program to refine the platform as a whole, but what’s more, it reduces the time and cost of delivery compared to individual programs. By supporting all stakeholders this approach will deliver long-term, sustainable solutions that improve health outcomes for patients, and ultimately their quality of life.
Laurence Burke is Director, Project Management, Europe