Unlocking the Potential of Connected Health
The devastating impact of Covid-19 has compelled the healthcare leaders around the world to revisit the current healthcare systems in terms of response to the crisis in the new post-pandemic reality. It requires the redesign of healthcare systems by introducing new care models to address primary, secondary and acute care. Patients are demanding continuous access to healthcare services in a safe and convenient way and also demand a more agile, inter-professional delivery of care with empowered frontline staff leveraging technology. This further need a new framework to enable healthcare organizations to orchestrate the myriad interconnected changes required to sustain virtual care. The framework needs clinical and corporate strategies to ensure full connectivity between the core clinical workflows, supporting operations and technology platforms.
Here, connected health, a widely used term in public health studies, have the capability of providing cost-effective solutions at a time when the demands on healthcare services continue to increase due to the world’s growing and ageing population, the rising costs of advanced medical treatments, and severely constrained healthcare budgets. Although the challenge is that the connected health solutions are technology-driven processes, hence, needs skill and willingness to engage with technology. This becomes crucial at a time, when the scale and pace of changes are high. Here the concerns are education and training. Education, training and widespread access to broadband technology can not only improve accessibility to connected health devices but can also be crucial in addressing gaps in our existing healthcare system. There is no doubt, that the technology has the power to improve access to healthcare services for people with mobility problems. Mobile technology is empowering patients and care givers by giving them more control over their health and making them less dependent on healthcare professionals for health information. With the help of digital technologies, they can not only search information online, but can also share their experiences and identify diagnostic and treatment options. An integrated healthcare system can exploit these technological opportunities further. Connecting patients to information, advice, and support can move the patient as a passive recipient of care to one where they are actively engaged in their own care.
Despite, that the connected health covers a large number of patient care points, the two central points witnessed across the globe are – patient access to care and patient empowerment. The connected health tools in recent times have not only improved patient care access and self-efficacy, but also delivered on central tenets of patient engagement. Connected health allows patients to connect with their medical providers more quickly and conveniently than ever before. The tele-health facilities allows patients to directly speak to their providers using video-conferences and at the same time it can connect the providers with one another to share consults, expertise, and knowledge during patient care. The benefits of connected health go beyond the logistic factors also – such as, it improves the way patients interact with and perceive their healthcare. When patients manage their own health using connected health tools, patients’ empowerment and self-efficacy increase. It further put patients’ in-charge of their own care. A fitness wearable helps a patient set her own fitness goals and track her progress towards those goals. A remote patient monitoring system alerts a diabetic patient when his sugars are too high, allowing the patient to make his own adjustments. It is an appropriate time to unlock the immense potential of connected health to explore a new phase of patient centricity, where the patients are becoming more and more responsible for their own healthcare thus creating enormous opportunities for engagement.