We were happy to catch up with Kent Bottles M.D., healthcare thought leader and consultant. Kent regularly shares his passion for improving patient engagement and strengthening stakeholder relationships on his blog. Kent is a popular keynote speaker, respected by healthcare professionals and innovators alike. He shared his insights on how technology will continue to transform healthcare delivery in 2012.
What do you predict as the biggest developments in health IT for 2012?
The growth of patient social networking sites will be the biggest development in health IT in 2012. These sites are reshaping the doctor-patient relationship. When patients visit sites like PatientsLikeMe or DiabetesMine, they become what I call “aggregated patients.” They get information from other patients about how they can deal with their condition. This broader access to information has considerably changed the doctor-patient relationship and created a new set of tensions around the doctor-patient relationship that were not there before. I personally think these changes are good, though some of my colleagues are not so sure.
What developments do you foresee in coordinated care in 2012?
2012 will be the year of participatory medicine, with the patient at the center. Patient social networking sites and new patient-centered digital tools will empower people to coordinate their own care and improve their health. Sometimes we are reluctant to give up control as IT professionals or physicians and let the patients in. This attitude will change this year.
What challenge do all healthcare stakeholders face during this period of "healthcare transformation?"
We have to realize that the status quo is not sustainable. We have to cut healthcare costs and increase quality. Going forward, all healthcare stakeholders must learn how to be creative with the new digital tools.
In a recent blog post, you include insights from health experts on the definition of patient engagement. How can healthcare providers encourage patients to become more engaged in 2012?
I am really passionate about this area. Several studies clearly link activated or engaged patients (I use those terms interchangeably) to better health outcomes. Judy Hibbard of the University of Oregon is one of thought leaders focused on unraveling the tenets of patient engagement through Patient Activation Measure (PAM). PAM is a new model for measuring the level of patient “activation,” supported by assessment tools to help providers determine the engagement level of their patients. The Center for Advancing Health (CFAH) in Washington, DC has dedicated most of its website to helping the engaged patient. Initiatives and patient engagement frameworks like these will be important tools in equipping healthcare professionals with the insights to motivate their patients to take an active part in their care.
What are the benefits of mobile care and equipping physicians with the right patient information in the exam room?
We haven’t fully figured mobile care out yet. When I was in Denmark, I heard a lot of people talk about coordinating electronic and mobile medical record initiatives. We will see more and more people wanting to do everything on mobile devices—including managing their health and wellness. This is why it will be important for healthcare providers to support mobile and electronic health record (EHR) systems, with both patients and physicians increasingly using smart phones and tablets.
Sometimes it is more easily said than done. Adoption of mobile care is still mostly driven by technology. IT departments often lack the context around what patients need to create mobile experiences that are intuitive, easy to use, and helpful. You can’t just take your existing website and adapt it to mobile. You need a clear focus on the most pressing tasks that patients want to get done on the small screen. This takes a lot of trial and some error.
Thanks again to Kent for taking the time to discuss his predictions for 2012. As always, we welcome your feedback and reaction–do you see the patient taking center stage in 2012? What do you forecast as 2012 health IT achievements? Let us know on our blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Be sure to review the rest of our 2012 Expert series including EMR blogger John Lynn, HealthIT analyst John Moore, and David Williams of the Health Business Blog.
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