Archives/Subscribe | Advertise | | July 2014

Embracing the Technology Boom for Patient Engagement Strategies

Print Print this Article | Send to Colleague

Pat Stricker, RN, MEd, Senior Vice President
TCS Healthcare Technologies

The world of health care communications is changing rapidly. The days of recording patient health information by pen and paper and locking it away in a file cabinet, then Xeroxing and faxing it, or stuffing it into an envelope and mailing it to a patient are becoming extinct. Traditional paper-based communication is being replaced by electronic applications, such as patient portals, email and text messages and educational content sent automatically to cell phones or tablets based on needs identified in a patient’s health profile, remote monitoring devices, automated alerts to patients and providers, etc. 

In an increasingly mobile and technology-driven society, providers and patients now have the ability to utilize tools that were previously unavailable or under-utilized in order to improve communication. The establishment of two-way communication channels in real-time should help empower patients to become more involved in and accountable for their own care.

The technology boom is having a profound impact on the health care industry—from electronic health records (EHRs), to patient engagement strategies—understanding the types of applications and technologies patients currently use and how to incorporate them into individualized care plans is key. 

Here are a few examples:
  • Provider-Patient Communications. Improved provider-patient communications can increase patient engagement levels with the goal of enhancing clinical and financial outcomes. By utilizing communication platforms, such as texting or email, that patients are already familiar and comfortable with, providers can eliminate potential barriers associated with the use of new technology and focus their efforts on patient care. In addition, new smart phone applications are becoming a more popular option for many patients.  
  • Enhancing Patient Engagement Strategies. Since the patient, family members and caregivers are the crux of the patient-centered model, these new technologies are helping to improve communication between them and the entire care team. Millions of patients use the Internet to review test results, schedule appointments, get health information, and email their physicians. This trend will continue to grow, so we have to find better ways to continually improve the experience.
  • Expanding Communication Channels. The rise in social media interactions to support patient health is another communication trend that is rapidly expanding. It will not affect our elderly population in any great numbers now, since they don’t routinely use social media, but it will become increasingly more engrained in the way we communicate with younger patients and their families. Similarly, text messaging, email, online video chat, VOIP-based telephone systems, and other communication channels will increase our ability to stay connected with family, caregivers, providers and others.

Mobile technologies, such as tablets and smart phones, have changed how, when, and where communication and education occurs. Educational material can be automatically sent to patients based on needs identified in their patient profile and alert the case manager or provider to follow-up with the patient to discuss the information. We can also introduce our patients to applications that will assist them in navigating health issues and use these applications as an on-the-job resource for us. These applications are becoming much more sophisticated and can be customized to the needs of the individual patient.

Final Thoughts
Case managers are an integral part of managing a patient’s health—ensuring patients adhere to their care plans, providing advice and information when patients have questions, and helping patients become and remain healthy. However, the positive outcomes associated with proper case management cannot be achieved by the case manager alone.  Fundamentally, we need our patients to be fully engaged and prepared to make real change in their behaviors to promote better health. With the rise of new IT-based communications, case managers now have many more options to keep the patient engaged to meet their care plan goals. 

Clearly, the interface between the practice of case management and the technology platforms that support case managers will only grow in importance. The potential synergies between case managers and health IT solutions is tremendous, but many challenges need to be addressed. 

To gain an understanding of what you can do to embrace the technology boom, familiarize yourself with available applications and learn how they can be integrated into patient engagement strategies. Although personal one-on-one communication is the preferred way of exchanging information, the growing use of technology-enabled communications opens up many doors to help patients between doctor visits to reduce the chances of any relapses during transitions of care.  

To contact Pat Stricker, email her at, or call her at (530) 886-1700 ext. 215.

Share Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn

The leading membership association providing professional
collaboration across the health care continuum.

6301 Ranch Drive | Little Rock, AR 72223 | Phone: (501) 225-2229 | Toll-Free: (800) 216-2672 | Fax:(501) 221-9608
Secure Fax Line for Credit Cards: (501) 421-2135 | Email: | Website: