How mobile and digital technologies engage patients and help achieve better outcomes

Tim Davis CEO and Co-founder, Exco InTouch

12 December 2013

Increasing pressure on pharmaceutical companies and health providers to achieve better health outcomes, combined with fierce competition, price pressures and rapidly increasing R&D costs, have pushed the subject of effective patient engagement to the top of the agenda.

This drive has opened up a new set of challenges for the industry: how best to set-up integrated healthcare programmes and how to effectively engage patients through user friendly interfaces, all while ensuring the security of patient health information. Mobile and digital technology is changing the healthcare landscape by presenting the industry with the opportunity to engage in multi-level personalised solutions that help support patients in the real world.

The importance of patient empowerment

It is widely recognised that non-adherence to healthcare programs has a major impact on overall population health. Patients incur the risk of less-effective treatment and greater likelihood of hospital stays, while health services suffer the effects of poor outcomes, wasted healthcare expenditure and the downstream impact of poor control. The pharmaceutical industry itself faces challenges associated with lower prescription sales and less evidence demonstrating a drug’s efficacy profile.[1]

Patient engagement and patient empowerment go hand-in-hand in healthcare management programs and are vital in improving adherence and compliance to treatment regimes. The engagement of patients in their own care plans empowers them to make better choices and take an active role in managing their condition, essentially becoming a fully responsible member of the healthcare team.

Patients are increasingly learning everything they can about healthcare options, the obstacles to good care and the steps they can take to get the best care possible. The internet is driving this paradigm shift, with 72% of users saying they looked online for health information in 2012.[2]

A new paradigm in healthcare

Effective patient engagement and adherence necessitates timely, unobtrusive interventions, which will motivate patients to take their medication as prescribed. Mobile and digital platforms (mHealth) present an ideal solution as they enable the use of simple technology that most patients have in their own homes.

The prevalence of mobile devices means they are viewed by many as the perfect vehicle to encourage and support self-management for those with long-term, chronic conditions. Data can be linked from these platforms directly to healthcare providers, offering a better understanding of the patient experience and their perspective of a particular disease condition or therapy.

These technologies can also enable patients to view their own data, providing greater insight into their disease and helping them to more actively manage their condition.

In addition to helping reduce medical costs, enhancing patients’ access to medicine and improving the accuracy of patient information, mobile platforms remove geographical and economic disparities. As these technologies are suitable for use across any patient population, they offer the potential to reinforce personalised healthcare regardless of location, race, age, gender, disability, health literacy or socio-economic class.

By providing ease-of-use and personalised solutions that can easily integrate into everyday life, the use of mobile technology across the healthcare sector as a whole is able to facilitate improved patient adherence, while reducing the burden on hospitals and clinics.

The recent advances in best practice for mobile data security and privacy in other industries, as exemplified by the widespread adoption of mobile banking, offer peace of mind for patients and solid vindication that solution providers are able to address all the necessary regulatory requirements.

The future for the industry

The reach and versatility of mHealth solutions to enable the provision of high-quality health management programs offers the utility to share real-time information, reducing the isolation of patients and bringing care directly into the home. By incorporating these adaptive solutions, the industry can not only improve medication adherence, but also encourage patients to change their behaviour, and, as a result, improve outcomes and overall quality of life.


1. Patient Adherence, Communication and Engagement (PACE) – Increased Investment and Adoption of New Digital Tools Enable Key Stakeholder Collaborations and Encourage Compliance (2012). GBI Research.



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