Solutionreach Scholarship Runner Up Essay written by Ajoni Hopkins
Patient Engagement technology (P.E. tech) works to bridge the gap between doctors and patients in fluid, interactive, and convenient ways for the benefit of both provider and patient. P.E. tech is a term used to describe a developing field that can create platforms for patients and doctors to interact with each other and ways for doctors to monitor the condition of patients remotely. The use of this technology has been found to greatly improve patient health and medical knowledge. The utilization of patient engagement technology improves the wellbeing of patients, helps the medical field progress, and provides a bright recipe for the future of healthcare.
The programs, websites, and apps that allow doctors and patients to interact with one another have been found to improve the wellbeing of patients by increasing doctor visits and improving relations between the provider and the patient. These technologies streamline the process of visiting the doctor, making it easy to set up appointments and be reminded of them when necessary. As Solutionreach has documented, this creates more visits to the doctor; people who already go annually might schedule more appointments, no shows don’t occur as often, and former patients can be “reactivated” (Solutionreach).
Going to the doctor consistently (on a yearly basis) allows people to get their regular checkups, even when completely healthy. Regular checkups are important to ensure that no underlying problems are developing. For example, conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and most importantly, cancer, can go unnoticed by someone until it’s too little, too late, because a doctor is the only person who can check for these types of maladies (Bonnet).
Going to the doctor annually allows for hidden problems to be caught early so that the problems don’t worsen. Going to the doctor often also helps build rapport and trust between the practitioner and the patient, which helps patients speak more freely about their problems, whatever they may be, to their doctor. P.E. technology and the rapport it builds helps to remove anxiety from doctor visits that many people feel, whether it’ because of a fear of doctors or because of cultural barriers (Machado) .
For example, Amanda Machado of the Atlantic magazine believes that, “For many Latinos, a doctor-patient relationship needs to feel personal, welcoming, and concerned for the individual as a whole.” She continues , “Most American healthcare deals with a kind of factory approach where you’re in and out and that’s that”. This is why, she claims, that many Latinos avoid the doctor and rely on home recipes given to them by family members. ”[Latinos] value having a relationship with our doctor,” and Patient Engagement Technology can provide that (Machado).
Even though communication is through a phone or computer, receiving personal messages from your doctor in your own home (and in your own language) can help alleviate this “factory feeling” that Latinos and plenty of other people in the U.S. feel. P.E. tech can show that even though you aren’t in front of the doctor, they still have you and your health in mind. SolutionReach has already found that it’s Patient Engagement technology improves patient satisfaction with their healthcare, which is evidence that better relationships between doctors and patients can be built using P.E. tech(Solutionreach).
Patient Engagement technology also helps the medical field work more efficiently and provides access to more information about conditions in ways that weren’t possible beforehand. The Solutionreach platform makes the process of setting and confirming appointments faster and without as much human interaction, freeing up time for both patients and attendants and nurses.
A computer program can send out personalized confirmation emails, texts, and phone calls instantly, allowing employees to attend to other business. Also, this tech helps to digitize a patient’s medical data, which cuts down on time spent doing paperwork as files won’t have to be filled out for every different medical provider. They can be submitted or transferred electronically through a single PE technology. The remote monitoring systems also help the medical field collect invaluable data on treatment and recovery that would be hard to do otherwise. The NYU Langone Medical Center is running a study on concussions using an app where patients perform daily quizzes and tasks to monitor their recovery.
The results from the tests is then sent to the NYU medical center, where the data is analyzed and compared. Day-to-day-data of concussion patients would usually be impossible to obtain, as it’s not possible for a normal person to come in to the doctor’s office every single day for tests. Laura Balcer, co-director of NYU Langone’s Concussion Center, recognizes this advantage, “This data could enable us to understand daily symptom profiles for patients for the first time,” (Sullivan).
This remote monitoring can even be used in an emergency: new “call centers made up of clinically trained staff and data analysts” have emerged that constantly monitor the status of patients and “evaluate alerts and send notifications when necessary.” (Sullivan). P.E. tech has a well rounded effect on the medical industry. It not only “improve[s] cost-savings [and] reduce[s] hospital admissions,” (Sullivan) but can saves lives and opens up new possibilities for learning about and understanding the human body.
In an ideal world, Patient Engagement Technology will come to change the face of healthcare. The interactive programs have the ability to become normalized in daily life: everyone would have an app or account on their phone or computer that would keep them in touch with their doctors and remind them to schedule appointments when necessary. For private practices, if one P.E. program or application comes along to champion the field, much like facebook has social media or google has search engines, visiting the doctor will have a new more positive image.
The cultural differences which alienated groups of people beforehand will be “attacked” by this new sense of always being in contact with your personal doctor. Annual appointments would account for more than the current 8% of Doctor’s visits, and this would catch underlying problems earlier at a much higher rate, improving the long term health of patients (Palmer). Also, the data that can be obtained from remote monitoring technology can help doctors improve rehabilitation programs and their understanding of conditions like concussions, which aren’t fully understood at the moment. In the future, P.E. technology could become the face of healthcare for the benefit of all of mankind.
Interactive technology in the medical field can help personalize a patient’s connection to their doctors outside of the doctor’s office or hospital room. This can increase a person’s rate of scheduling appointments, make them more comfortable with their doctor, and allow providers to personally monitor a patient’s rehabilitation process at a more consistent basis, all of which are positive impacts on a patient’s health. P.E. tech also allows medical centers to complete administrative work quickly with less paperwork and monitor and collect data on a patient’s health remotely, opening up a new style of health care. It brings benefits to all parts of the healthcare industry: patient, provider, and business.
My name is Ajoni Hopkins and I’m a Sophomore (2018 Graduation) at Northwestern University majoring in American Studies and Sociology. I’m a Questbridge Scholar - National College Match, meaning I was one of very few selected by my University to attend and receive close to a full ride scholarship because of need and merit. However, this scholarship doesn’t cover all the costs of my tuition and room and board and I need the money from the Solutionreach scholarship to pay for my tuition, books, and fees for club baseball. On campus, other than baseball, I’m involved in a fraternity, am a Dj at our college radio station WNUR 89.3 Evanston- Chicago (tune in sometime!), and a moderator for Sustained Dialogue discussions (group intended to discuss current social issues).