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Patient engagement and technology: The future of healthcare

17th January 2022 Print

Accessibility, transparency and active patient participation are hot topics in healthcare right now. As the industry shakes free of the last vestiges of “medical paternalism,” many healthcare providers are looking toward a new kind of patient relationship: patient engagement. 

In this article, let’s explore what patient engagement is, and what makes it a profound concept in modern healthcare. Finally, this article will discuss how advancements in technology drive patient engagement to create new efficiencies and opportunities. 

Whether you are a healthcare practitioner looking to offer competitive services, or a patient searching for the right medical solutions, understanding the roles of engagement and technology in the healthcare process can be roundly beneficial. Let’s get started!

What Is Patient Engagement?

Not so long ago, the dominant trend in healthcare was known as “medical paternalism,” a set of attitudes and approaches characterized by the old adage "doctor knows best." The thinking went that a doctor's role should be to dispense interventions, solutions and prescriptions regardless of a patient’s unique circumstances and desires. It was very much a one-way street, communication-wise, with the patient relegated to the role of passive recipient. 

The notion of medical paternalism started to show its age around the turn of the 21st Century, and now the approach is considered passe at best – and unethical at worst. In its wake, most healthcare providers adopted a more collaborative, communicative and respectful approach to patient relationships called patient engagement (or patient participation, in some circles). 

Essentially, patient engagement views health as a collaborative project. Healthcare providers empower patients with personalized information, accessible health products and streamlined appointment creation. In turn, patients can more easily monitor, manage and advocate for their health, which benefits healthcare providers. 


Technology and Patient Engagement: A Marriage of Modern Ideas

Around the same time that patient engagement was taking off in the healthcare industry, technology was also booming. The two forward-thinking industries found a lot in common. They both prioritized accessible information, user participation and streamlined services. It was only natural that healthcare providers would turn to app developers to drive patient engagement. 

Currently, we are seeing some fantastic collaboration between healthcare providers and app developers. For instance, a healthcare provider will hire a collaborative app development company to custom-make an mHealth app. Together, they will brainstorm solutions for engaging patients, like Uberized prescription delivery, in-app appointment creation and IoT-enabled health monitoring (via wearables, etc.). 

Several healthcare providers and app developers are also exploring how emerging technologies can benefit patients. Forward-thinking app development companies have seen success in deploying AI-powered chatbots to communicate with – and even diagnose – patients accurately and expediently. And some companies are even exploring VR and AR technologies (Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality) to enhance diagnostics and provide immersive, accessible treatments for mental health. 

Underpinning the marriage between tech-forward app developers and ever-evolving healthcare providers is a shared commitment to engagement. Modern healthcare providers want to engage patients by providing better information, participatory opportunities and access. And innovative app developers are more than happy to provide tools and solutions to meet that goal.

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