Putting the ‘E-Power’ into Patients’ Hands

December 28, 2010
Marisa Torrieri

Researchers say physician practices need to brace for the era of “e-power” - patients taking charge of their care management on a daily basis through the availability of smartphone apps, e-mail, and other “disruptive” technology.

Is your practice ready to embrace EHRs but balks at the idea of e-mailing patients or letting them manage their own care through technology?

If your answer is yes, it’s time to brace yourself for the era of patient “e-power” - patients taking charge of their care management on a daily basis through the availability of smartphone apps, e-mail, and other “disruptive” technology.

In its latest report, IT services consulting firm Computer Sciences Corporation identifies “E-Power to the Patient” as one of five key technology-fueled trends that will change healthcare. CSC researchers said that as new technologies and uses for said technologies emerge, patients will increasingly take on more responsibilities when it comes to managing their own healthcare.

CSC researchers noted a number of empowering high-tech products that recently became available, such as Band-Aid-like heart rate sensors that send data wirelessly to a smartphone, and others that are in the pilot stages, such as intelligent bathrooms and sensor-rich “living laboratories” for homebound seniors.

This ultimately means your practice should spend more time thinking about how to serve patients better through new technology.

Sandra Danoff, vice president and chief communications officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, recently spoke at a health conference on how to integrate EHR systems with value-added services. These include granting online access to lab test results, and allowing patients to use a web portal to schedule e-visits with care providers or make in-person appointments online. By doing this, UPMC has reportedly improved patient satisfaction rates and increased annual revenues.

Your practice could also start with something simpler, like allowing patients to e-mail you basic questions related to their care. At the very least, it’ll help you avoid the time-consuming game of phone tag.

Check out these recent Physicians Practice articles on communicating with patients through e-mail and web portals:

E-mailing with PatientsWeb PortalsGetting Paid for Mouse Calls