Patient engagement has become a theme that is being repeated ad nauseum in healthcare. By being primary stakeholders in their own health, aren’t patients already engaged in their health? Moreover, given that healthcare is a universal human need, does a healthcare business really need to worry about engaging its ‘customers’? The answer to these questions lies in the value-based health movement taking over the healthcare space. We refer to it as a ‘movement’ because it is a work in progress and is fundamentally changing the core product of the healthcare business, especially in the United States. For decades, the business of healthcare has largely been about providing backend support and infrastructure to health professionals, whose services were the ‘product’. Under the value-based model, ‘health’ is the product. What changes the business fundamentally is that the product, due to its very nature, will now be co-created by the healthcare provider and the client. The most successful (and profitable) healthcare organizations will be those that can create an ecosystem which pre-empts poor health in the first place, and secondly, maximize the ‘Health ROI’ for every intervention delivered. Patient engagement is a cornerstone of the future healthcare enterprise.
Given the mandate to keep the patient out of the hospital, the inevitable role of digital health technologies for patient engagement is self-evident. However, these technologies by themselves are ineffective at shifting the balance and truly engaging patients in a meaningful way. At Partners Connected Health, we invest a lot of thought and effort into understanding and incorporating the context of a patient’s life in the design of a digital health product. For instance, take the case of wearable health trackers. Popular perception about them changed from being seen as a promising tool to increase physical activity, to skepticism when it was seen that most people stop using them after the novelty wears off.