Patient engagement through tracking
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently concluded a study aimed at determining whether or not observations of daily living (ODLs) recorded by patients could help improve their healthcare experience. ODLs, including mood, pain levels, eating habits and even infant fussiness typically went unmentioned at doctor’s visits, however they were actually shown to give healthcare providers data they could use to improve patient care.One such way to collect these valuable ODLs is through patient-generated data (PGD). PGD is any health or medical data inputted electronically by a patient—this can be accomplished through the use of wellness apps, activity tracking devices and at-home clinical diagnosis tests. If you’re looking to engage patients in improving the delivery and outcome of their care through the use of PGD, you may want to keep reading.

Improving healthcare through PGD
The use of PGD can lead to increased efficiency, lower costs and better patient experiences and outcomes. Here are a few tools patients can use to track their ODLs and other pertinent data:

  • Web applications: There are a variety of Web applications designed for patients and healthcare providers alike to monitor and help regulate chronic conditions. Glooko Logbook, for instance, is a mobile app for diabetics that syncs right to a patient’s glucose metre to create an accurate logbook of blood glucose levels. This information can then be shared with healthcare providers. Or, SmartBP by Evolve Medical Systems helps patients track their blood pressure, analyze the results and share them with their physician. Another useful Web app, My Medical, allows patients to store medical information, chart test results and vitals, and email records directly to their physicians—all at the touch of a button. For those patients who prefer more traditional means of tracking and monitoring important medical records and vitals, a Simple Jotter can be a great substitute.
  • Web portals: Web portals are another helpful tool that can be used to collect PGD. These portals are essentially websites where patients can manage appointments, view lab results and communicate with their healthcare providers via email. Web portals provide a great means for patients to communicate with physicians about minor questions or concerns they have, and they can also be useful for physician follow-up. Physicians can submit aftercare instructions, follow-up questionnaires and even patient satisfaction surveys. Promote this useful service in waiting areas and exam rooms—a basket with bandage dispensers, pill boxes and Hand Cleanser printed with your Web portal’s URL can be a great way to drive traffic to it.
  • Tracking devices: Tracking devices are yet another effective tool to collect and monitor patient health information. Pedometers help patients monitor and reach exercise goals. Or, more advanced tools, such as wireless accelerometers, can be worn to measure daily exercise, fitness trends and goals. One such tool, Fitbit®, was even used to monitor post-op care—researchers at Mayo Clinic reported using this device to monitor elderly patients recovering after cardiac surgery. It collected data on the number of daily steps patients took after surgery and later correlated their mobility with the likelihood of a discharge home, an extended hospital stay or a discharge to a skilled nursing facility.

Remember, PGD can be a great tool to improve patient care and outcomes. It can give physicians a better look at the big picture, which equates to a better diagnosis, better treatment and a better patient-physician relationship.

When Patients Share Health Info with Providers Through Personal Technologies, Clinical Care and Patient Engagement Improve.” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. N.p., 26 Sept. 2012. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2013.

Rudansky, Alex Kane. “How Patient Generated Data Changes Healthcare. InformationWeek.com. N.p., 10 Sept. 2013. Web. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2013.

Watson, Stephanie. “The 13 Best Diabetes iPhone & Android Apps of 2013.” Healthline.com. N.p., 08 Aug. 2013.  Web. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2013.

Ritchie, Alison. “Five heart disease management apps to recommend to patients.Medical Economics. N.p., 30 July 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2013.

The best iPhone medical record is now on Android too.” My Medical N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2013.

Terry, Ken. “Fitbit Gadget Could Improve Healthcare.” InformationWeek. N.p., 10 Sept. 2013. Web. Retrieved 14 Nov. 2013.

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