Staying in constant contact with your patients improves health compliance.
Every doctor out there who’s been practicing for a certain amount of time understands that a patient is two different people. They’re the person they are when they’re in the office, attentive and willing to make the lifestyle changes the doctor recommends, and they’re the person they are when they’re not in the office, complacent and generally unwilling to change. Obviously, this is a broad generalization. There are certainly lots of patients out there who listen attentively to what their doctor tells them they need to do to improve their health, and when they go home they actually make those changes. But a large number of patients just aren’t that way. They listen to what the doctor has to say, but once they leave the office they just go back to doing the things they’ve been doing. For this latter patient, their health risks either remain the same or increase, and their chances of having a bad health outcome increase as well.
Every doctor out there will tell you that if they could only stay in better contact with their patients, they could drastically improve health compliance. When a patient is health compliant, that means they’re doing the things their doctor is telling them to do, whether those things are exercising more or changing their diet. When a patient isn’t health compliant, they’re not taking their medication or making any of the recommended changes in their life. Obviously, when a patient adheres to health compliance, their chances of having a positive health outcome improve. The opposite is true for a patient that doesn’t engage in health compliance.
This is why the new types of programs and applications coming out that are geared toward helping patients improve their health compliance are so great. Virtually everyone these days has a smartphone, so companies have developed programs that allow doctors to increase how much communication they have with patients when patients aren’t in the office. For example, HealthAware developed a program called Kare-N that sends individualized automated messages to patients every day that they’re not in the office. For example, if a doctor has recommended that a patient quit smoking, the Kare-N program will send them encouraging messages throughout the day reminding them of this goal. Some of the messages will have questions, such as, “Have you smoked a cigarette today? Reply ‘yes’ or ‘no.'” Their response will go back to the doctor, and the doctor will know whether or not they’re making the necessary changes. This also helps to create accountability for the patient, and when a patient feels accountable to someone else, their chances of actually engaging in behavior change drastically improve. It’s basic behavioral science, and it’s been proven to be rather effective.
Thanks to programs like Kare-N, doctors are increasing their communication with patients when they’re not in the office, and that’s having an incredibly positive impact on health compliance. More programs like this are on the way. That’s a good thing for doctors, and it’s a good thing for their patients’ health.