Health technology offers new opportunities for physician-patient engagement
CHICAGO — New health technologies that focus on self-management of patients may be a unique way for cardiologists to engage with their patients, according to a presentation at the Cardiometabolic Health Congress.
Patrick Wayte, senior vice president of the American Heart Association Center for Health Technology and Innovation, said the center focuses on the intersection of medical and consumer technologies, especially as there has been an increase in consumer technology products that concentrate on health care and engage consumers in different ways.
“It’s really in this blending, this mixing that we tend to think of as — generally speaking — health tech, which gives the broadest prospective on what’s possible in this marketplace,” Wayte said during the presentation. “One of the things we’re trying to do as a center and as a science-based organization ... is build this wonderful intersection of evidence-based science — in our case, developed and driven digitally — to a wide range of technology solutions.”
Health engagement challenge
Despite there being an assumed benefit to the use of this technology, there currently is a health engagement challenge among patients, as there is too much information, too many choices, the difficulty in adapting to this technology, feeling alone in the process and also trying to figure out who they can trust, according to the presentation.
“All of this information is oriented around life,” Wayte said during the presentation. “Patients spend a relatively short period of their time in medical care, and that goes with respect to traditional hospitals and clinical environments, but also just in front of doctors. The reality is that they are bombarded by a wide range of opportunities to learn, in some instances to learn negative things and get misinformation about disease and their situation.”
The AHA has been developing daily, weekly and monthly plans of care to form a health care relationship with patients that can be exhibited through health technologies, Wayte said, noting some health topics that are addressed in this approach include cardiac rehabilitation, HF and atrial fibrillation. The initiative also focuses on issues that go beyond science such as social determinants of health, environments that patients are experiencing, behavioral and personality factors and how to personalize the information that is generated from health technology, he said.
“Certainly, as we think about measures coming out of these systems, solutions, [applications] or whatever they may be, fundamentally we’re looking for key improvements in health,” Wayte said during the presentation.
Factors such as what are patients doing and how they behave are also taken into consideration. The AHA thought beyond demographics and also focused on behavioral factors such as buying habits, website visits and search history and also psychographics including attitudes, values, motivations and interest.
“[We’re] trying to think about why people are doing the things they’re doing beyond just what we know about them from a medical point of view,” Wayte said during the presentation.
The health message can then be tailored to meet the needs of several types of patients depending on how they interpret health care advice: self-achiever, balance seeker, direction taker, priority juggler and willful endurer.
“There are different ways to approach these folks, and there are different ways to motivate them to do things, to take care of themselves, to understand what’s going on with their health and also to make improvements,” Wayte said during the presentation.
Because patients focus on their health in different points in their lives, the AHA has emphasized the notion of a support structure. This includes developing goals and action plans, accessing information for self-management, staying accountable and tracking results, Wayte said.
“We don’t want to reach people with just basic information, and yet we don’t want to beat them over their heads,” Wayte said during the presentation. “We want to build people’s knowledge over time, we certainly want them to be able to continuously engage and learn about their health, share with their loved ones and absolutely stay connected with their providers as well.”
While there is much focus on a patient’s ability to manage their health through technology, Wayte added that the physician is a critical component to this approach.
“Now I talked about this in a way that feels disconnected from providers in the clinical system as people increasingly live their lives with digital technology out and about, yet the reality is that our own digital health studies showed us that connecting back to the providers and also connecting with loved ones is the best way for patients to stay engaged, stay communicated, stay motivated and yields the best outcomes.” – by Darlene Dobkowski
Wayte P. New Generation Engagement: The New Frontier. Presented at: Cardiometabolic Health Congress; Oct. 10-13, 2019; Chicago.
Disclosure: Wayte is an employee of the AHA.