James_Heller_Info-PicThere is a great value in using technology to engage with healthcare consumers. Applications streamline processes that occur before, during and after appointments. With the exponential growth in availability of healthcare technology tools, consumer communication is easier and more affordable than ever before.

A diverse mix of applications are available to send/receive referrals from other providers, facilitate telehealth sessions with clients, store/forward data and provide a place for clients to review their health information online. It seems whatever the desired interaction, there is a company out there developing solutions to make it happen.

The best part of this tech explosion, is that competition is driving quality and affordability. The potential market is huge, so smart developers are releasing applications at a reasonable cost and pouring resources into product improvements. They constantly seek feedback from providers and consumers. All of this activity has led to a selection of applications that add real value to any practice.

While these types of tools can be used to digitize administrative tasks, the real value is in the interaction between consumers and care providers. For example, telehealth, or video conferencing, helps clients to keep appointments even if they can’t or don’t want to travel. It saves time for all parties, can cost very little for a good product, and is often easy enough for a novice to use.

Medical Assistant Ana Aguilar says technology helps enable a warm handoff between providers

Medical Assistant Ana Aguilar says technology helps enable a warm handoff between providers

On the consumer side, interactive tools give them freedom to be more engaged with their own health, which is a benefit to the provider as well. An online “portal,” such as Netsmart’s myHealthPointeTM, can be made available to consumers so they can view personal health information, schedule appointments, request medication refills and securely message their providers. This one tool promotes better health and improves communication between providers and consumers. We are seeing tremendous benefit.

With such a large selection of applications, one needs to be a careful buyer. The smart software shopper identifies a need, reads product reviews, solicits peer recommendations and tests trial versions before making a decision. Taking a little bit of extra time before purchasing will ensure a positive experience, and will make consumer communication better for both parties.

(Thanks to Tarzana Treatment Centers.)

(Get insight into the IT capabilities necessary to best engage consumers. Engaging in Care webinar is August 19, 2015.)