News Feature | August 17, 2016

mHealth Only Works If Patients Care

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Patient mHealth

A Parks Associates study found patients aren’t concerned about their health and not interested in tools that help.

Patient engagement is difficult and, even with access to tools as close as their smartphones, some patients aren’t willing to make an effort to improve their health. That’s the key to mHealth after all; all the advanced apps in the world don’t help patients who won’t help themselves.

A Parks Associates study found more than half of Americans with at least one chronic condition aren’t speaking with their primary care physician any more than once every three months. In fact, 11 percent reported that they don’t even have a PCP.

“Traditional chronic care management programs that use only health risks from claim and EMR data to stratify patients into different tiers fail to factor in behavioral and daily living factors in their patient engagement approach,” said Harry Wang, Senior Research Director, Parks Associates in a news release. “As a result, past chronic care management efforts couldn’t scale and be effective in improving care outcomes and patient care experiences. A better approach, one we will explore at Connected Health Summit, would be to segment these patients based on a variety of social and attitudinal factors and target them on a more individualized basis.”

mHealth Intelligence writes building the technology is only half the battle. Getting patients interested in their health is the real issue. Another survey found roughly 60 percent of newly insured Americans are dealing with a chronic condition and many have access to digital health tools, yet only 7 percent report using them. Some patients said they viewed mHealth apps as more of a fitness or wellness program rather than something suited to their needs. Others said they were annoying and hard to use.

“As the healthcare landscape continues to change and evolve, the need for more complete solutions to help people achieve their best health will be critical. The traditional focus on health will need to be replaced by attention to the whole person and their total well-being,” said Kristine Mullen, Vice President, Wellness Strategies & Solutions, Humana. “Meeting consumers where they are with health and wellness solutions that are easy, accessible, and timely will be key to creating not only healthier individuals but individuals who are also happier and more productive too.”