August 2014 Issue: Excerpt from Thought Leaders’ Corner

Katherine Schneider
M.D., M.Phil., FAAFP

Each month, Medical Home News asks a panel of industry experts to discuss a topic of interest to the medical home community.

Q. What are the pros and cons of using smart phones as part of the medical home’s patient engagement strategy?

“By using smart phones to engage patients in medical homes, boomers and younger consumers will likely already have competency with the technology and be satisfied while using it. Now, patients expect their healthcare to be mobile-friendly, which thereby increases loyalty and “stickiness” to the medical home as the integrator for all healthcare needs. This is particularly important in ACO-type arrangements where the steerage within the ACO is soft, rather than limited through benefit design. Moreover, smart phones can be looked at as self-management tools for chronic conditions that medical homes can leverage to improve upon Triple Aim goals, beyond just managing components such as scheduling, refills, and reminders. At the opposite end of the spectrum, smart phones might not be a viable strategy to engage the highest risk patients (i.e., the most sick and frail), unless they are used to engage their families and caregivers to help manage the patient’s conditions. Additionally, the regulatory framework for mHealth tools is still shaking out, so medical homes may face challenges based on future legislation. Finally, medical homes today will be pressed to find effectively developed apps incorporating responsive design (as opposed to a design intended for a desktop browser). Poor design approaches may minimize the engagement and adoption of mobile tools.”

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