The digital patient is here to stay. Patients are using digital tools like search engines, social media platforms, wearables and gamification to maintain their overall health and well-being. At the same time, providers are taking advantage of the very same tools to enhance care delivery and follow-up, as well as to better communicate and connect with patients.

Patients Becoming More Proactive Healthcare Participants

With more than a third of Americans using social media to research health conditions and 86% of patients conducting a health-related search before scheduling a doctor’s appointment¹ – taking an active role in their own healthcare is very important to today’s digital patient. Online tools and mobile technology empower patients. From searching online for a physician to tracking fitness goals through wearable technology to learning about a chronic condition’s treatment through game-playing, patients are taking advantage of taking better care of themselves.

Here’s how:

  • Patients can access their medical information and research symptoms, nearby doctors, medications and treatment options via useful portals. Being more informed means people can be more proactive about their health.
  • More and more people are sharing information about healthcare, including doctor reviews, personal experiences with illnesses and opinions on available therapies. Communities such as “Patients Like Me” encourage patients to share their health experiences and foster a community with others who might have a similar condition.
  • Patients can use social media to seek advice and search for information on the go, or consult with a physician (near or far) via their mobile devices for a virtual care visit.

Providers Connecting, Building Trust with Patients

Patients aren’t the only ones using digital and mobile technologies to maintain better health. Clinicians and providers see tremendous value in using these tools, and also make key decisions based on their findings. For example, 85% of doctors who watch professional videos online have taken action as a result — including searching for more information online (49%), sharing information with a patient (38%), and changing or making a decision about treatment for a patient (34%).

Providers and clinicians are using digital tools to:

  • Expand their role in patients’ lives. Healthcare providers are interacting with patients beyond hospitals and physician offices by monitoring patient progress or encouraging them to educate themselves on their conditions.
  • Enhance communication. Transparent, real-time social media communication platforms can foster higher-level conversations. Providers can start educating patients earlier to encourage preventive, proactive self-care.
  • Improve patient satisfaction. Providers can use patient evangelists to spread goodwill and build brand equity to help maintain trust and confidence.

Want to read more about how digital tools are transforming the way providers and patients are caring for themselves?

You can access the full article in the Winter 2014 issue of Health Tech Report

Learn more about CDW Healthcare’s patient data management services.

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