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How self-monitoring and data sharing produce better patient outcomes

News
Article

Ongoing communication with care providers enables earlier detection and treatment of health problems

Kota Kubo

Kota Kubo

One visit to an emergency department, or even an annual checkup, can leave patients with a lot of information to process, including diagnoses, treatment decisions, prescriptions, instructions for care, and critical steps that need to happen between visits. Following their appointment, patients may feel overwhelmed, confused, or simply unable to remember what needs to be done to continue managing their care. More than half of all patients don’t remember their physicians’ recommendations and treatments unless prompted.

But this interval between appointments is an important part of care management and contributes greatly to positive outcomes. When patients wait long periods between appointments and don’t track and report their health measurements, they and their providers are forced to fill in the gaps, often guessing what caused changes—or trying to remember what happened—between visits.

Without a window into ongoing patient health, physicians must wait until they see the patient again weeks or months later, leaving them with a blind spot in disease management and potential medical issues. These blind spots can quickly snowball into poorer health outcomes, particularly when worsening symptoms aren't quickly addressed.

The importance of patient self-monitoring

When we consider that an estimated 133 million Americans suffer from a chronic disease the impact of self-monitoring comes into focus. Most chronic disease and illness management is performed outside of the health care facility by patients themselves. Patients need to be able to identify symptoms, manage medications and/or equipment, and know when to call or go to their care provider. In theory, they should be actively self-monitoring between appointments and working with their physicians as needs arise.

We know that patients who track their health and communicate data with providers are more likely to have better health. Patient self-monitoring also helps physicians assess patient health, but in a system based on health management through appointments (whether virtual or in-person), even if a patient is regularly self-monitoring, they often lack a way to communicate data with their provider.

Impact of data sharing on health

Fortunately, digital health advances make it easier for patients to self-monitor, manage medications, and share this information directly with providers. When patients use technology to track and share their health data between visits, providers have the insights they need to manage and better understand the patient's care journey so they can help improve outcomes and experiences.

Data tracking and sharing between visits is a powerful practice for all stakeholders, leading to better everything:

Better communication: Routine provider-patient communication, made easy by platforms designed to streamline this information flow, saves time to discuss drivers of health, as providers already have progress notes and can be better prepared for the appointment. In-between-visit communication can also expedite time to diagnosis and the right treatment path.

Better health outcomes: Patient nonadherence can impact treatment efficacy and increase economic burdens for both the patient and health system. Routine tracking can assure providers that patients are adhering to their treatment plans and result in positive changes to health management approaches. Those who track their health information and communicate these updates with providers are more likely to have better health outcomes.

Self-monitoring and data sharing also results in significant reductions in hospitalization and hospital readmissions, also reducing the burden on emergency care services.

Better experiences: Self-monitoring between visits also increases patient awareness and engagement, helping ensure they understand their condition and medications and are equipped to detect fluctuations and side effects that need immediate attention.

Using technology to connect patients and providers

Previously, patients often would be relied on to remember to record health updates on their own, sometimes using a paper journal to share those notes at the time of the next appointments. Even when data recording software or programs became available, they provided no direct connectivity with providers, continuing to ignore the component of care between visits.

Now, both patients and care providers can use technology that has the ability to track specific patient conditions, prompt patients to record timely health measures and share this data with their care provider, as well as alerting patients to contact their provider if there is an anomaly or potential emergency. This technology is key not only to enabling patients to better understand and engage with their health, but helping to build a bridge between patients and physicians.

Such communication is vital to effective care. If patients are diagnosed early and adhere to treatments, they have better outcomes. If patients and care providers have a better connection and more time to speak, there is better engagement and flow of communication. Engaged patients are more likely to participate actively in their care and better understand how to manage outcomes.

To succeed, the technology used to self-monitor and report needs to have two components: connectivity, which is foundational for ensuring the transfer of information, and AI, which is becoming a force in symptom identification and monitoring for specific health issues against existing patient data. On the physician’s side, technology should assist by speeding up the analysis of information, presenting primarily what they need to make rapid and appropriate decisions.

The easier it is for patients to report their information directly to their providers' systems, the faster we can achieve better outcomes and experiences that impact the entire health care system.

Kota Kubo is co-founder and co-CEO of Ubie.

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