Scholarship Essay Winner, Spring 2016
It’s that time of year again–when we give away a $2000 scholarship to a student who has been accepted to an accredited college and has demonstrated a knowledge and understanding of the advantages implementing a patient relationship management strategy has on the patient-provider relationship, patient-centered care, and health outcomes. Solutionreach awards this scholarship in the spring and fall of each year to support students in their dedication to and passion for learning.
We would like to recognize and congratulate James Miller as the winner of the 2016 Solutionreach Spring Scholarship! Here is his winning essay, in which he shares a very thorough overview of this approach:
Technological advances within the last 20 years have opened the door to innovative and competitive pathways for human communication. As a student preparing for medical school, I understand the need for health professionals to set and maintain a high standard of communication with their patients, not only when they see them for appointments, but also the rest of the time that they are not with them. Most health professionals understand the need for regular communication with their patients in order to promote significant health improvements and to foster a supportive provider/patient relationship.
According to KevinMD.com, however, physicians need to see between 24 and 25 patients a day in order to maintain an average income of $175,000, and the prospect of communicating often with that many individuals is a substantial burden for these providers. Patient engagement technology eases the burden that many health professionals experience as they strive to cultivate supportive and productive interpersonal relationships with their patients. Patient engagement technology is making great strides in giving patients a “voice” through multi-faceted satisfaction surveys, in providing multiple venues through which providers may further educate their patients, and in helping patients and providers connect through common social networks.
In order for patients to feel in control of the health care that they receive, it is important for healthcare professionals to provide a way for their patients to express their opinions and offer feedback about the care that they receive. Providers may try to obtain this kind of information in a variety of ways, however, patient engagement technology supports the use of customized patient surveys that give patients the opportunity to express their opinions, needs and concerns. This opportunity is crucial as the patient’s questions and concerns may go unnoticed and unaddressed during the bustle of a medical appointment. When patients know that their thoughts are important to their provider, they feel more comfortable seeking care from them and patient loyalty flourishes. Patient surveys also present opportunities for providers to receive feedback about what aspects of health care are most important to their patients. Feedback of this kind is invaluably useful for improving a professional practice and in expanding a provider’s clientele.
Patient engagement technology emphasizes the fact that the care provider is the patient’s best resource for health information. Great strides of patient education take place while the patient is with the care provider, but once the patient leaves the appointment, he or she is often left to find answers to his or her questions and concerns from other sources, which are often unreliable and counterproductive to health improvement. Patient engagement technology includes ways for providers to continue to present much needed education and instruction throughout all stages of a patient’s progress in the form of online communication groups established by the provider, and e-newsletters. The information provided through these kinds of channels can be tailored to meet the specific needs, or interests, of the patient. When patients are given direct access to information that they need or desire, they are more likely to stay engaged in pursuing their health goals.
Great advances in technology, including patient engagement technology, have surpassed expectations in the social media sector. A good majority of the U.S. population uses some form of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, on a regular basis. Social media is such an influential part of most patients’ daily lives that it acts as an excellent way for providers to stay connected with their patients. Patient engagement technology has capitalized on this idea and made it easy for providers to easily share information, special promotions, and influential testimonials that can inspire and further educate their patients outside of the office. The more health care providers seek to reach their patients where they’re at, the more patients will actively seek the care that they need, when they need it, from a primary provider they trust.
With all of the work that health professionals perform on a daily basis, it is important for primary care providers to remember the powerful influence they have on their patients and to never neglect those significant relationships. Patient engagement technology supports the growth of patient/provider relationships, while helping providers practice high quality health care, in a health care system with ever-increasing demands. The benefits of patient engagement technology extend far beyond the limits of e-newsletters and social media accounts. As American businessman Steve Ballmer stated, “The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.” Patient engagement technology is a diverse tool with characteristics to create a communicative system with unimaginable potential.
My name is James Miller. I am a senior majoring in nutrition science and minoring in chemistry at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. I discovered my passion for nutrition science as a freshman in college while taking an introduction to nutrition course. In that course, I learned how influential diet and nutrition are in affecting overall health and well-being. My passion to learn as much as I can about how to prevent disease and improve health through the use of food has propelled me on the path to becoming a family physician. As a physician, I plan to focus on educating my patients about the powerful influence they have in controlling and monitoring their health through the healthful food choices that they make. The relationships I foster with my patients are of utmost importance to me, and I hope to become the primary health information source that my patients can rely on for all of their health needs and concerns.
Outside of my formal education, I enjoy playing the French horn and am an active member of the Cache Symphony Orchestra, which is comprised of college students as well as members of the Logan community. I am an ambassador for my college, the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. As part of this position, I represent Utah State University, as well as my college, as I talk with high school students and encourage them to prepare for and seek careers that interest them, particularly in the sciences.
My family relationships are very important to me and my greatest joy comes in being with my family and supporting them as they support me in my pursuits. I enjoy meeting new people, learning about different cultures, and eating new foods.
Although I will complete my bachelor’s degree in May 2016, I intend to pursue more formal education at a medical school in the United States.