Patient Engagement Swings to the Consumer View

Guest post by Frank Irving, Editor for Medical Practice Insider

If you’ve been thinking about “engagement” in terms of getting patients to listen to you more intently, it’s time for a shift in perception. Engagement is now being shaped in the consumer world, supported by a catalog of more than 40,000 end-user mobile apps for health and fitness. Physicians who adapt to viewing patients as consumers stand a good chance of enhancing care and driving out costs.

“We need to pay attention to the emotions of the people we serve. A spike in emotion can be indicative of an at-risk individual or an unmet need,” said Amy Cueva, founder of Mad*Pow, a design agency that works to improve the experiences people have with technology, during a Monday morning session at the mHealth Summit. “If we look at the peaks and valleys in engagement, that will show us where things are going wrong and where we need to focus.”

The company took that approach with an HIV adherence application it designed for the Centers for Disease Control. The app connects lab results with medication adherence so that people can see why their results improve. It also utilizes a “buddy system” to bring in a social component in the quest for improved adherence.

“We’re long past trying to influence consumer behavior — we need to leverage it,” added Janet Schijns, vice president of global verticals and channel marketing for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “We need to follow consumers and innovate on top of their needs. Consumers want to be loyal to those who can provide meaningful information in the minute that matters.

“And 9 times out of 10, they’re looking for a crowd-sourced piece of information that helps to enhance their intelligence about their condition,” Schijns explained.

How can the healthcare industry respond?

The evolving engagement landscape must be seamless and “omni-channel,” according to Adam Pelligrini, vice president of digital health at Walgreens. “Whatever you do should very conveniently transition from online to offline back to online. It must give consumers what they want, when they want it, wherever they are. And they shouldn’t have to think about what device they’re using.”

Scott Snyder, PhD, president of Mobiquity, sees consumers buying in if they see a clear benefit. For example, they might be willing to expose their health profiles to increase their chances of participating in clinical trials.

“We have to ratchet the privacy vs. benefit tradeoff,” said Snyder. “The more you put the patient in control of privacy, the more they will share. They will feel like they are controlling their data and who they’ll share it with.”

The bottom line, according to Jon West, director of sales for QLess, is ensuring transparency of information to consumers. “If a patient wants to see his physician, an app may let him jump in line through his mobile phone with a call or SMS message. And he should get feedback immediately from that process, such as information about the pending appointment and what forms he might need to complete. We need to enhance consumer understanding about what to expect.”

This article was originally published on

Blake Rodocker
Blake Rodocker

Blake joined Bridge Patient Portal in 2016 after transferring from our parent company Medical Web Experts. Since then, he’s acted as Bridge’s Business Development Manager. Blake is passionate about driving collaboration with clients, partners, and internal teams to achieve performance goals and successful relationships.