Engaging a single patient in their health can be challenging, especially when that patient is somewhat isolated or solely responsible for managing their healthcare. Social isolation is talked about a lot these days and during a MobileHelp pilot study, a concerning shift in patient engagement became apparent.
The pilot study included more than a dozen individuals. They were given a MobileHelp Remote Patient Monitoring System, and a few Bluetooth enabled peripherals – a weight scale, blood pressure monitor and a pulse-oxygen saturation monitor.
A home health nurse assisted in identifying participants for the study and explained how to use the devices.
The intention of the pilot study was to answer the following question:
“Given access to devices to measure their own health, will patients monitor their health consistently on their own, will they be satisfied and confident with monitoring their own health and will their perception of safety improve when they track their health statistics?”
The overall results were a huge success – almost all the participants noted a huge increase in their perceived well-being. Not only did they self-report that they enjoyed taking their vitals, but many of the participants took the results to their doctors whom enjoyed seeing the consistent readings.
At the end of the study, 47% of the participants reported they were more confident about managing their own health. There was also an 18% increase in activity level as patients reported they felt healthier than they had before participating in the study.
However, after several months of no contact or support, many people began to lose their consistency in taking their own readings. It appeared that all the dips in participation were happening during the same time of year – right after the holidays.
It appears that during times when families gather, the patients were encouraged to take their readings. After the holidays, the motivation seemed to fall off. As for New Year’s Day – that compliance lift may have been boosted by resolutions for the new year, only to fall off a few weeks later.
As with our own new year goals, a little encouragement can go a long way. A simple phone call from the overseeing nurse, asking, “How are you doing on taking your readings daily?” can be just what’s needed to spur action. Digitally connected health platforms, like remote patient monitoring, can create a communication feedback loop that may help reduce social isolation, improve patient adherence to treatment plans, and keep patients engaged in their own healthcare.
With the right technology, clinicians can be notified when a patient needs attention, and caregivers and family can also access their loved one’s health data to stay informed. Connected healthcare opens up a lot of opportunities to let the patient know they are not alone. It also supports the message that their health is important and encourages them to stay on track!
Good luck with your goals this year!