Use technology to help patients quantify their progress.
It is time to rethink old business strategies and embrace the ever-evolving technologies that allow chiropractic to connect with patients and communities. These innovations help to streamline an antiquated marketing approach for better effectiveness and efficiency. The future is technology that engages and empowers healthcare consumers through an evidence-based perspective, thus reinforcing the patient-centered care model and improving the overall healthcare experience.
Today, consumers are more focused than ever on wellness and rely on a broad range of resources to make better healthcare decisions. Three out of 10 Americans say they “always” or “frequently” turn to the Internet for answers to their medical questions.1
Many platforms—interactive health-care kiosks, social media, personalized healthcare sites—are encouraging consumers to take control. While there is a continual rise in the “do-it-yourself” population, illiteracy in the navigation of people’s own health and wellness remains high, even among the college-educated.
Undoubtedly, most people are poorly equipped to evaluate health and wellness information and make objective decisions about it. This is understandable given the abundance of contradictory information that exists online. Even so, nearly 66 percent of Americans who turn to the Internet with medical questions say they trust the information they find.1 And while the vast majority of Americans understand the importance of accurate health information, less than a third actually know their important personal health data.2
Enter the apps
According to the marketing group QuinStreet, the number of people who downloaded health-related apps nearly doubled from 2011 to 2012.3 This interest inspired the Department of Health and Human Services to label this mobile trend “mHealth,” calling it “the use of mobile and wireless devices to improve health outcomes, healthcare services, and health research.”
Chiropractic has long championed wellness and the commitment it requires. Wellness is being healthy in body and mind, and is achieved through a focus on diet, exercise, and lifestyle. The cornerstones of wellness are preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to treating disease.
And while nearly all Americans understand these tenets, only about a third act on them.2 This is changing, however, as smartphone technology and social media reinforce healthy behaviors by engaging participants in “healthy” competition and encouraging compliance to achieve their wellness goals.
There are many online venues where a consumer can join a team or group to lose weight, exercise, conquer illness, and ultimately become healthier. Some corporate wellness programs are offering incentives for participation in programs like these, which ultimately lower a company’s healthcare costs and increase the productivity of employees.
The smartphone is an essential tool for practicing anytime, anyplace health management. Mobile devices now deliver everything from health information to healthcare. A flood of new mobile health applications now present out-of-the-box solutions for both consumers and professionals. The goals of success are built around pre-existing models of fitness, diet, diagnosis, and treatment.
Behavioral mechanisms that keep the user engaged are paramount to not only an app’s success but also the consumer’s success. Most medical apps are aimed at increasing adherence to a treatment plan.
Chiropractic has traditionally held fast to a low-tech and high-touch approach. Consumers, however, are demonstrating that they want both high-tech and high-touch healthcare. Of the 40,000- some health-oriented apps on the market, chiropractic-centric versions are few and far between. While education and tools are emerging to solidify chiropractic in the wellness arena, efforts need to be made to “technologize” the profession for it to remain an industry leader.
- Retire any posters hung with tape or thumbtacks and invest in displays that run a continuous loop of health and wellness information aligned with your practice paradigm. Customize the reel to include video of the doctor and staff, slides that address current wellness news, and announcements for wellness programs and upcoming events.
- Incorporate technology into your examination, report of findings, and patient-education efforts. Evidence- based, patient-centered tools boost your credibility and provide your patients with validation. In concert with digital scales, blood pressure cuffs, and thermometers, digital X-ray and sEMG have become the norm.
- Providing objective data to substantiate treatment is an integral part of modern-day healthcare.
- Meet your patients where they live—on their smartphones. Take advantage of recent advances that help you connect on a different level. Several apps have bolstered your technology toolbox, letting you send test results, prescribe exercise, check posture, and more.
- Employ technology to establish an online presence for your practice and communicate consistently with your patients. Web pages, blogs, Facebook, and other social media are contemporary ways to keep your patients engaged.
- Opt for practice management software that offers patients a “portal” where they can complete patient forms, access their medical records, make appointments, and pay copays. Use practice software to the fullest with automated appointment reminders, newsletters, practice announcements, and e-vites.
Health and well-being are assets. Lead, empower, and encourage consumers to make good investments rather than bad ones. Incorporating technology in this endeavor is essential in balancing the business of healthcare with the practice of medicine.
Disease prevention requires early detection and intervention, as well as accurate education resources. Your treatment options and programs must be based on safety and efficacy data. A misinformed patient is a barrier to good doctor- patient communication.2 Awareness and prevention are key to breaking the hold that chronic diseases have on the health of our nation.
You can have a greater impact on the public by embracing technologies that provide an efficient and effective experience between consumers, providers, insurers, and other health and wellness businesses. Technology can help bridge the communication gap and improve adherence to treatment.
Armed with mobile devices and wearables, consumers are managing their health in more settings than ever before.
David Marcarian, MA, is the founder of Precision Biometrics Inc. and a former NASA researcher who invented the MyoVision Systems. He can be reached at 800-969-6961, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through myovision.com.
1 Wolters Kluwer Health. “2011 Point-of-Care Survey.” http://www.wolterskluwerhealth.com. Accessed Aug. 2015.
2 General Electric. “GE Better Health 2010 Study Fact Sheet: Patient-Doctor Disconnect on Healthy Living Revealed.” http://files.healthymagination.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/GE-Better-Health-Study-Fact-Sheet.pdf. Accessed Aug. 2015.
3 Pogorelc D. “Phones, tablets may become most popular tech devices for docs since the stethoscope.” http://medcitynews.com/2012/09/phones-tablets-may-become-most-popular-tech-devices-for-docs-since-the-stethoscope.infographic. Published Sept. 2012. Accessed Aug. 2015.