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Melon Health Blog

Why Collecting Health Data Between Visits Matters

Posted by Siobhan Bulfin on May 28, 2019 4:26:03 PM

According to the Food and Drug Administration, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent of patients disregard medical advice. Not only does this non-compliance compromise patient health, but it also costs the US around $300 billion annually.  

This statistic proves that our medical expenses would decrease significantly in the US if we improved compliance. This includes patients who don’t take prescriptions correctly, finish therapy, or struggle to make behavior changes to lose weight or lower cholesterol.

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To make a real difference, patient engagement is vital. Access to health data is a simple way to engage patients and assist clinicians in care-plan adherence. As patients track their health, they’re better able to manage and limit chronic disease and improve their quality of life.

The role of self-knowledge in patient outcomes

Patients often have a hard time seeing the whole healthcare picture. For many, chronic illness is the new norm, and its negative progression seems inevitable. To enable patients to stick to care plans, they need an increased awareness of their own health and how they are tracking. This can help them identify their own struggles and understand the need for self-improvement and accountability.

Measure progress

Self-management for many patients can seem overwhelming, and many give up before they even start.

The good news is that today, thanks to technology, there are many ways to help patients measure their progress. This technology includes fitness apps and wearables. By tracking daily activities and sending reminders, smart watches and step trackers enable patients to track their healthy living goals.

This results in natural, step-by-step lifestyle changes that are motivated internally rather than externally. However small the progress, it can provide an early sense of achievement motivating the patient to continue and giving them a sense of self-belief. In this way, health data can help patients chart their progress and make long-term changes.

Self-accountability

In addition, the insights from health data increase self-accountability. For patients in maintenance stages, significant progress can be made simply by using health data management.

For example, patients with high blood pressure can see, at a glance, if they’re on track with their diet goals. If they’re not, health data will provide real-time reminders of the risks associated with their current lifestyle habits. If they are keeping up with their physical activity goals, for example, they may see a correlation in lower blood pressure. These health insights can increase patient motivation and confidence.

Health data that encourages online peer-to-peer interaction can also help patients reach their goals. As patients share successes and struggles, everyone who is part of the community benefits.

The role of clinicians with health data management

Patient data helps clinicians guide and inform patients strategically. Here are several ways to use engagement strategies for improving patient wellness:

Monitor engagement

A primary function of health data is to give clinicians insight into patient progress between visits to the doctors office. Without this knowledge, clinicians may keep moving forward with their initial strategies, even though patients aren’t responding well.

The sooner clinicians can detect a breakdown between a patient and their care plan, the quicker they are able to provide an intervention. Equipped with this data, clinicians can alter strategies to better fit patient needs. These adjustments will result in greater patient engagement and compliance with their care plans.

Assess goals

Rarely do clinicians have the ability to monitor the daily and weekly progress of patients. But with access to health data, they can celebrate patient successes and help them stay motivated. As the connection between patient and clinician improves, patients grow in knowledge and self-management.

Address engagement without progress

Without healthcare data management, clinicians may have a difficult time noticing when patients are struggling. These insights, however, enable clinicians to recognize patient struggles that go beyond traditional medical situations.

For instance, if a patient eats well, yet struggles to keep cholesterol levels down, clinicians will know to ask more questions. They may look at stress levels, physical activity, and mental health issues.

They may also consider the social determinants of health. For instance, patients may struggle to maintain a healthy diet because they can’t get to a grocery store. These and many other factors play into patient wellness plans, but without health data insights they may go unnoticed.

The role of health data in whole person wellness

Since whole person wellness relies on the full picture of patients’ health, collecting data is key to patient outcomes. Health monitoring provides a complete physical and mental health picture and considers the impact of the social determinants of health. This allows clinicians and patients to better manage physical and mental illness and to ultimately, decrease medical costs.

Is your organization tracking health data between patient visits?

Topics: patient engagement, behavior change, whole person care, population health

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