The Maiden Voyage or Bloggage

 Today, for the maiden posting of this blog, I was asked to write about the topic of patient engagement.
Patients, as is so often the case in medicine, fall into three categories: motivated, not motivated, and those in between. Motivated patients are the ones who will dutifully run a marathon from Boston to Chicago if someone in a long, white coat tells them to do so. Bravo! But, these folks are already “engaged;” nothing to really do here. At the other end of the spectrum are the patients who are never motivated: they are the ones who have had four heart attacks, still smoke, yet fail to change their diet; or they are patients who actually have a financial incentive not to improve, etc. It’s tough (actually pretty much impossible) to get these folks motivated until they mentally commit to changing their lives. (“You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”)
The remainder of patients fall somewhere in between with regard to motivation for various reasons: perhaps due to low attention span, no appreciation for long-term consequences, language issues, no real financial accountability of outcome, etc.
Can this final group benefit from improved engagement? Maybe. It would be much more likely if a product were to be introduced that can stand on its own simply because patients like it and because it makes a clinician’s daily schedule easier and because there is true economic value placed on these functions by both provider and patient.
We are striving to make iGetBetter just such a product!
iGetBetter takes advantage of the most popular technological devices on the consumer market (iPad Mini’s anyone?--and Withings devices!) to provide patients their daily care plan information and retrieve certain bits of clinical data while they perform their normal online activities each and every day…seamlessly…quickly…and efficiently.
This has been no easy task, and I will discuss the details about the trials and tribulations of how we have been striving to do this as the weeks go by…stay tuned. But early returns from feasibility studies performed at the Center for Connected Health at Mass General Hospital and at Brockton Hospital have demonstrated a sustained patient engagement for the iGetBetter product of 90% over a 90-day period. No one expected that! Wow! But hey, in retrospect, go figure...patients actually used an iPad Mini when loaned to them without charge for three months. The fact that they were asked to use it for a mere few minutes each day to read their care plan instructions for the day, answer a couple of questions and provide a weight and a blood pressure wasn’t even a speed bump on their way to accessing the internet and their e-mail. Again, seamlessness and ease of use-- that’s the iGetBetter way!
The expectation is that this faithful, daily, patient engagement will help those patients who are “on the fence” for motivation, and iGetBetter will hopefully assist them in improving their overall health--thus lowering their need to access the formal clinical system over the years. Time will tell.
Until next time, Pax et bonum

David Lebudzinski, MD: Physician Consultant and Co-Founder