Engagement Technology: the Answer to the “White Coat Syndrome”

It is interesting to see the development of patient engagement in the medical industry.  In years past, it was common for patients to “clam up” when visiting a medical professional.  The anxiety experienced labeled “white coat syndrome” often causes a patient’s blood pressure to elevate.  It was up to the medical staff to ask a series of questions in order to obtain information from the patient. Considering only the verbal engagement sometimes led to the proverbial “doorknob question,” in other words the patient remembering something or making an inquiry as the professional was on their way out the door.

The patient engagement that is possible in the medical industry today involves much more than simply verbal communications.   It has been clearly demonstrated that engaged patients are more likely to be healthier and incur fewer costs. An article recently published revealing results of a survey pertaining to the use of technology and patient engagement confirmed that “patient engagement is often seen as the key to preventative care, effective chronic disease management, and cost containment.” While that statement seems to affirm it is a good thing, let’s look at some of the other variables involved.

An interesting point made by medcitynews.com in a piece addressing the need to get people involved using health tech.  They pointed out that it is relatively early in the game with not very many individuals becoming actively involved at this time to make a fair decision.  That is an excellent point, which brings us to the topic of who uses technology and why?  It is projected that “within the next five years it will be perfectly normal for the majority of patients in the First World to receive regular communications reminding them to take their medications and congratulating them for meeting their daily walking quota.” Personal interaction can involve a variety of communications channels, including mobile apps, texting, and even phone calls. 

Patients will soon consider it normal to have their blood pressure and glucose readings available at their fingertips any time of day. Soon it will be routine for patients to track their progress and the outcome of their plans of actions that they — as well as their families, caregivers and health care providers — all participate in.  Patients want to be involved with their healthcare decision-making process, and information technologies can support that engagement.

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