With All the Buzz Around Consumer-Facing Digital Tools, What About Our Health System’s Use of Technology for Better Health Outcomes? We sit down with Dr. Kevin Campbell MD, FACC, an internationally recognized Cardiologist who is also the on-camera Medical Expert for WNCN, to discuss the issue. Dr. Campbell appears weekly on the WNCN Today morning show and is a weekly contributor on Fox News Channel and Fox Business News.

The consumer-facing, wearable health sensor marketplace continues to make headlines. And as this news coverage continues, it begs the question: what must medical leaders consider when it comes to technology coming from the provider—technology that advances care team-patient relationships, and that further involves patients in their own health?  

Even if it is “behind the scenes,” certainly this kind of data-backed, relationship-driven technology that is based on proven principles cannot be overlooked.

Here are the two key factors physicians should consider as they better understand and leverage patient-centric population management platforms. 

1. Effective physicians must be proactive instead of reactive as they embrace technology for better care delivery.   

Research has repeatedly shown how outcomes improve when patients are more engaged in their heath care.

“An engaged patient is a patient who is invested in his or her own health,” says Dr. Kevin Campbell, MD, FACC, an internationally recognized Cardiologist and on-air medical contributor for Fox News. “That could actually be due to the fact that these patients have done research online to better understand the disease process, and they come to the office better informed. It may also be that they are actively using technology to track various health indicators.”

“Whatever it might be, we know that when patients have access to more data, they actually tend to be more engaged and they also respond to making changes in their health care and in their lifestyle,” explains Dr. Campbell. 

The reason technology used in this way is effective is that patients have a greater sense of control. With this increased ability to see metrics showing how their health status is changing based on their day-to-day behavior changes, they see more reinforcement for their efforts. 

“Data leads to empowerment for these patients because it gives them some sense of control. Normally, if they are sick, they don’t have that same sense of control. They are better able to make changes in their lifestyle, and to see various health indicators change in an obvious way,” a factor that’s important for us to recognize as members of a patient’s care team, Dr. Campbell adds.

And just as patients can embrace technology, care teams and physicians also should have this mentality for enhanced, overall relationships with their patients. 

“Doctors—who are scientists after all—recognize that having data available helps us make effective, critical decisions. Many physicians are embracing technology and, as healthcare providers, see first-hand how patients are becoming more engaged as a result. Physicians in gadget-based specialties like cardiology really do seem to naturally embrace technology,” he adds, “and it is my hope, that in the near future, more physicians from a wide variety of specialties begin to engage in a more active way.”

2. Resource constraints make team-based care even more critical, even as we take advantage of technology to optimize our care process.

With primary care shortages, and more patients requiring access to care teams, technology serves and supports better quality care because it helps address those very problems. “Physicians are being asked to do more with less and as healthcare providers we must become more efficient in order to continue to provide high quality care."

In addition, Dr. Campbell says, “[Technology], when utilized for remote interaction between caregiver and patient, can serve to allow us to better develop relationships, to connect with patients more meaningfully, have better communication, and do so more directly, and more quickly than we have ever done before—and this is critical in improving outcomes with limited resources.”

Even if decisions and workflow design are both backed by information/access to data, and even when we have telemedicine or self-monitoring efforts in place, a strong physician and care team support system must exist if we want sustainable change to occur.

“Data collection and digital tools for patients, such as wearable sensors, Fitbit devices and others can be incredibly beneficial when used by patients between visits. But we really see a major boost in outcomes when you combine these efforts with the ‘backbone’ of the care delivery process: the patient’s health care team. This is why the team is more and more important as we look to manage chronic disease—all with less time and resources to do so,” says Dr. Campbell.

Advanced workflow designs for high-performance, team-based care takes advantage of the power of evidence-based guidelines.

Non-physician team members can manage complex care by exception; following guidelines, they can recognize when an exception to the physician’s Plan of Care requires their attention. 

Technology is optimizing the care process powerfully in this and many other ways.

A revolution in healthcare delivery is modernizing the industry for high value and truly excellent outcomes. The modern physician/CEO/leader assures her team is empowered, trained, and properly delegated to, and is well-connected to all other non-physician team members to assure the patient is “owned” and fully cared for at all times, which is consistent with evidence-based guidelines. 

With administrative costs on the rise, and with a significant shortfall of all types of physicians, the significance of the team-based approach is increasing.

“I think that we are already seeing that we have to do more with less,” says Dr. Campbell.  “We have to be more efficient. We have to be smarter about how we use our resources, and in order to do that, we really have to work together. It is essential to maintain a team based, patient centered approach and support this approach with technology.”

It is no longer adequate to have "lines of demarcation" between people on our care teams.

“We must see it as this: we have a team, people have roles on that team, and everyone is qualified for their specific roles. A patient-centric care team is the result if we practice medicine in that way—everyone on the care team contributes something, and then outcomes improve,” says Dr. Campbell.

The route to total care management that combines personalized care plans and patient engagement tools that enhance a care team and patient’s communication/relationship is possible through EngageHealth IQ’s suite of services. 

Dr. Kevin Campbell MD, FACC is an internationally recognized Cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Dr. Campbell is the on-camera Medical Expert for WNCN and appears weekly on the WNCN Today morning show. In addition, Dr. Campbell is a contributor for both the national Fox News Channel and Fox Business News and appears LIVE on air on a weekly basis. Find Dr. Campbell on Twitter here and at his blog here.

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