Technology to Engage Patients

Like Comment

Last week’s Tip addressed a number of things, including managing technology. There has been much attention on technology that can assist the patient with adherence. While important, adherence is but one component of the patient’s self-management process. Patient engagement, or activation, is key to their adherence, but also other processes and outcomes. The engaged patient is more likely to self-advocate, acquire more information about their condition, have self-efficacy in managing their disease, and perform behaviors that maximize the likelihood of good treatment outcomes, including but certainly not limited to treatment adherence.

Gatwood et al describe evolutions in technology that can engage patients beyond those with which we are likely familiar, such as automated phone calls to serve as refill reminders.1  They argue that we have not truly leveraged the availability of newer devices and technology. Resources now exist that can facilitate more advanced mobile communication between patients and pharmacists, which can be managed and informed by data available in most pharmacies and through HIPAA-compliant platforms. Such tailored messaging can be further personalized by being reactive to patient behavior with real-time medication use monitoring tools, facilitating low-cost, high-reach interventions for patients in need of ongoing guidance. By facilitating such engagement, pharmacists can remain connected with patients throughout their care, better interpret their needs, navigate adherence-related issues, and more holistically counsel patients. There are libraries of tailored messages to patients with HIV, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and others. Patients can even be informed in appropriate language of recent studies on the effectiveness of their medication, thus further “nudging” their self-management. Messages can be tailored to improve the new (and perhaps doubting) patient’s self-efficacy. There are mechanisms to support direct patient communication while preventing time drains on the pharmacist and staff.

Pharmacy managers can pursue use of these advanced mobile messaging techniques and other technologies to improve patient outcomes. Additionally, use of these technologies can not only engage patients, but instill in them higher levels of satisfaction and loyalty, with them knowing that you care enough to do so and in consideration of many persons’ enjoyment in using these technologies.  

Additional information about Managing Medication Use Process Supporting Technologies and Automation and  in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If you or your institution subscribes to AccessPharmacy, use or create your MyAccess Profile to sign-in to Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. If your institution does not provide access, ask your medical librarian about subscribing.

1Gatwood J, Hohmeier KC, Brooks IA. Beyond the reminder: The next steps in pharmacist-driven, mHealth patient engagement. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2019;59(2):S21-S24. 

Shane Desselle

Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy, Touro University California

1 Comments

Go to the profile of Shane Desselle
Shane Desselle 2 months ago

Do you think our younger pharmacists will be able to seize opportunities arising from new technologies?