Recent data suggests healthcare consumers are more than ready to be engaged through the right technology. According to an Infosys survey, 77 percent of consumers are willing to share personal information online, with 66 percent willing to share information through a mobile device. A stunning 81 percent are willing to sign up either online or through a mobile app to coordinate care, with 77 percent willing to sign up to help them adhere to their doctor’s treatment plan and 76 percent willing to use the technology to track their health goals. And this revolution is not limited to younger generations. While around 80 percent of consumers under 50 are willing to sign up for a mobile app or website pertaining to their health, even 60 percent of consumers over 50 are also willing to put technology to work to improve their own health.
This study tracks with other, more behavioral-health focused data that surveyed 100 outpatients to discover that 70 percent owned a smart phone and more than 50 percent would agree to download a mobile application that keeps track of their mood. The state of technology as it relates to the consumer is evolving. A recent OpenMinds presentation highlighted that smart phones and other technologies enable inexpensive consumer-directed disease management. The result is that the physical location of the consumer is not as important for service-delivery as it used to be. Now, the healthcare professional can reach the consumer via technology to provide remote monitoring, remote consultation and help to ensure that treatment is available when and where the consumer needs it.
How to engage with consumers in mental and behavioral health
The first step to making sure any technology you deploy will effectively engage with consumers is to ensure you have the proper backbone in place to fully integrate all technologies back into the overall care platform. The clinical loop must be closed between the consumer and the enterprise, with health applications following an individual as they transition through different care settings and ultimately back out into the community.
This integrated system needs to be comprehensive, including care planning, interventions and progress tracking to move beyond a simple link to only the EHR system. This level of integration is the power to support and monitor the full consumer life cycle, and center the individual inside of his or her multi-agency care continuum.
Customization is key
Fully customizable remote programming is necessary to keep individuals fully engaged with their own care. This will enable the clinician to push interventions to the consumer’s smart device in real-time. An effective treatment option is to also include a scoring ability in the application. Customizable fields can be tailored to meet the goals of the care plan. Progress can be monitored and tracked as the consumer engages with the application, and both consumer and provider can review and collaborate on steps to push further towards goals.
Another area of focus, especially for those with intellectual development disabilities, is to deploy an application that enables the consumer to communicate with care providers as to how they actually feel. When technology establishes a line of communication, the individual, care teams and the individual’s family can all start to build real understanding. If you combine this with a device to teach adaptive and independent living skills, you have a formula to help a consumer cope with the unique, potentially stressful situations that he or she might face every day.
It is said that information is power. With these new techniques for consumer engagement, the individual receiving care has both the information and the empowerment to be a stakeholder in the treatment plan. It is that feeling of empowerment that can be priceless in motivating the consumer to stick with treatment and start to realize real improvements in his or her overall state of mental health.
 Engaging with Digital Healthcare Consumers: “Patients Ready to Share Data, But Healthcare Organizations Yet to Tap Opportunity,” Infosys Public Services, (2013), http://www.infosyspublicservices.com/insights/Documents/engaging-digital-healthcare-consumers.pdf
 “Mental Health monitoring via Mobile Apps Welcomed by Most Psych Outpatients,” FierceMobileIT, (May, 07, 2014), http://www.fiercemobileit.com/story/mental-health-monitoring-mobile-apps-welcomed-most-psych-outpatients/2014-05-07#ixzz31WrkR89d
 Sun Vega, MBA, Senior Associate, OpenMinds,”Community-Based Treatment through Technology: Remote Monitoring, SmartHomes & More,” OpenMinds, (November 5th, 2014), http://www.openminds.com/email/tii/110514tiiremotemonitoring.pdf