Harnessing Data to Improve Health
Family- centered care, patient-centered care, and engagement, are the “buzz” words in health care today. What this means is there is a coordinated effort by hospitals and public health officials to use electronic medical records and give individuals’ access to their records in order for them to manage their own care. Studies show that engaged individuals have lower healthcare costs, less medication mistakes, and better health outcomes. Individuals, who are engaged in their healthcare, collaborate with their health provider in decision regarding their care and treatment options.
Communication and time constraints often hinder the concept of engagement. Many are intimidated by their health provider, lack the skills necessary to communicate effectively, and with only a15- minute office visit, usually can’t get all their needs met. Using personal health data and a health management tool could bridge that gap in communication.
Using the Right Tool
Today, there are new apps and electronic devices being developed every day to track your health. Their use, however, is limited. While technology is great, it comes with its’ own challenges. Most technology is information based only and does not provide for education or individualization. It cannot assess, evaluate, or build on acquired knowledge. It also eliminates a group of people who do not use technology, such as the elderly. A printed document however, can be personalized, interactive, educational, and shared with a health provider during a visit, social support network, or a team of specialists. Sharing documents in this manner breaks down the barriers usually associated with ineffective communication such as lack of confidence, and lack of knowledge.
An Opportunity for Health Promotion
It is our opinion at Health Promotion Associates, LLC, that a shift in the way we promote health is needed. The principles of individual engagement involve a set of skills that supports a person’s confidence in managing their health. Health promotion programs that emphasize the value in collecting and using health data, communicating health goals, sharing in decisions that affect health, provide a greater opportunity in creating and carrying out a plan that increases a greater sense of self- awareness and self-management skills.