By Joseph Corson, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Healthcare Division of Connect America

Connected health has emerged as a critical resource during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many healthcare organizations, patients and providers have benefited from connected health technologies and their ability to expand access to care, support better disease management and reduce utilization costs associated with unnecessary hospitalizations and readmissions.

Although the journey towards a more tech-enabled care model has not been without its challenges, connected health has been an integral part of providing care continuum throughout the pandemic. Emergency legislation and funding have enabled many healthcare organizations to implement connected health services across urban and rural areas to help assist in the fight against COVID-19. As healthcare organizations, patients, payers and providers continue to experience the numerous benefits of connected health, its expansion beyond the pandemic is being supported as part of a new care delivery model to help improve health outcomes and lower overall healthcare costs.

What is connected health?

Connected health refers to a model of healthcare management and delivery that uses technology to provide healthcare services remotely. These technologies are used to drive more integrated care and better health outcomes in a value-based environment. Connected health is effective because it is designed around the patients’ needs and helps bridge the gaps between patients, caregivers, clinicians and payers.

What are some examples of connected health?

Connected health encompasses programs that leverage existing technologies and connected health tools such as telehealth, remote patient monitoring, medication management, wearable technology, secure messaging tools, and mobile apps to help connect patients to their providers.

What are the benefits of connected health?

Connected health delivers many benefits across the healthcare system, including expanding access to care, reducing potential exposure to COVID-19 for medical staff and patients, and supporting disease management for patients with physical or behavioral health concerns.

How does connected health improve patient engagement?

The benefits of connected health extend beyond care delivery and expanded care access. They also influence the way patients engage in their health. From the use of connected health tools such as remote patient monitoring devices, medication management systems and fitness apps, individuals are more empowered to self-manage their health and wellness. Below are just a few examples of connected health technologies that can improve patient engagement.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

Connected health technology such as Connect America’s RPM solution can help increase patient engagement by bridging the gap between individuals and their healthcare providers. The technology enables clinicians to remotely monitor and analyze a patient’s health data in real-time, provide actionable information to triage and treat individuals faster, which results in more engaged patients and better health outcomes.

How Does Remote Patient Monitoring Work?

  • Collect Vitals: Patients take their daily vitals with easy-to-use, Bluetooth-enabled devices including scales, blood pressure cuffs and glucometers.
  • Aggregate Data: Bluetooth devices relay the patient vitals to a hub, such as a PERS base station or their own tablet, which aggregates daily vitals with relevant data from their patient portal and electronic medical records (EMR).
  • Monitor Results: Continuous alerts provide actionable information and recommendations to healthcare providers monitoring daily patient vitals.
  • Update Care Plan: Healthcare providers adjust the patients’ care plan to provide intervention or mitigate potential issues.

Patient Portals

Patient portals are another example of connected health technology that facilitates patient engagement. Secure messaging, which is hosted on many portals, allows patients to send messages to their providers when they have a question. In many cases, these messages improve communication between the patient and provider, saving time and mitigating potential issues.

Medication Management Solutions

Also known as medication dispensers, medication management solutions can help ensure medication adherence and lowers the risks of overmedicating or missing a dose. Patients engage through email, text, and phone reminders that encourage both adherence and compliance. Notifications to providers and caregivers provide an alert if a medication is missed. This type of continuous monitoring and engagement fosters self-efficacy and self-management.

Fitness Apps and Wearable Devices

Fitness apps and wearable devices also have an influence on engagement. These connected health tools record and track fitness goals enabling individuals to be more active participants in their health and wellness.

Connected health technologies are making it easier for individuals to be more active participants in their personal health. These devices are effective tools that not only help improve access to care, support disease management, and reduce risk, but they significantly influence patient engagement, which ultimately contributes to better health outcomes.

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