http://www.digitaljournal.com/life/health/digital-health-technology-needs-to-be-patient-centric/article/503142

Digital health technology needs to be patient-centric

Posted Sep 22, 2017 by Tim Sandle
The next wave of digital health technology needs to focus on the patient experience, either in the way patients interact with technology or the way the use it. This is a key finding from a new report into the state of pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
A Pakistani Thalassaemia patient receives blood at a treatment center in Peshawar  on December 4  20...
A Pakistani Thalassaemia patient receives blood at a treatment center in Peshawar, on December 4, 2014
A Majeed, AFP
Patient-centric technology is part of the digital health development strategy of many organizations in the healthcare, pharmaceuticals and life science sector. This trend has been found by PricewaterhouseCoopers analysts in a new report. The report looks at the major trends and attitudes of those working in these areas and the findings will be of interest to companies working on, or thinking about embarking upon health technology initiatives.
The main findings from the report are discussed in the Digital Journal article “Benchmarking the adoption of digital health technology.
With technology developed with the patient at heart, healthcare and pharmaceutical company executives stated the need for improvement in the areas of prototyping, user experience and human-centered design, and business deployment of new technologies. Getting this right is important for securing a market advantage.
According to the American Institutes for Research there are five key factors, in relation to patient-centric health technology, that need to be considered as part of product development. These are:
The technology needs to be patient-driven. This means patients’ goals, preferences, and priorities need to drive the technology.
Any device needs to recognize that patients are whole people and considers their circumstances. This could include, for example, the degree of discomfort and how a patient can access the service.
Patients must have access to the same data as the company that develops the device and the clinician; the use of data must be transparent. Moreover, through digital connectivity, patients can become empowered to participate in their own healthcare management and decisions.
The data and the subsequent analytics must be timely and easy-to-understand.
Patients should be involved in the development of the product and associated technology.
Examples of patient-centric technology include telemedicine; mobile health applications for smart phones and handheld tablets; patient kiosks (where patients provide health information that providers can access before the patient enters the exam room); and devices that have been ergonomically designed for the patient to use in a straightforward manner (such as, can the patient actually hold or grip a device?) Not everything succeeds, however.
Take Fitbit’s new Ionic smartwatch, which was launched in August 2017. The watch combines the activity tracking features of previous Fitbits with more advanced health features such as blood oxygen sensor, a more accurate heart rate monitor, and pairing with blood glucose monitors. Despite the fanfare, PharmaPhorum reports that sales have yet to take off.
Fitting in with new devices is the use of social media. Here there are different levels of interest and understanding this is important for when providers and health services develop communications strategies. For example, one survey found breast cancer patients, for example, are 12 times more engaged than diabetes patients. Quite why these social differences occur is unknown; the key message for health technology marketing is to understand the behaviors of the target group.
Patient-centric technology will not work as a one-way process. Patient-centric models put the needs of the patient first; however, they also require greater patient responsibility and accountability. This means patients need to understand the technology and access and review the health data as agreed with their clinician.
A related area from the report is with the extent that clinicians accept digital health technology. Here there is still a degree of resistance among some clinicians. The primary reason for opposition from medics is due to a perceived loss of the medic-to-patient interaction. The PwC report suggests that this can be overcome through extolling the advantages of the technology and showing clinicians how new technologies can save time, allowing for more opportunities for spending time with patients.
Another finding from the PwC finding is about building the necessary workforce skills to allow digital technologies to develop. This finding is reviewed in the follow-on Digital Journal article “Digital healthcare requires new skills and strategy.