Our 4 Finest Patient Engagement Pieces of 2017

Why healthcare should carry these lessons into the new year.

Photo has been resized. Courtesy of Ted Eytan, Flickr.

When healthcare innovators discuss patient engagement, they could be talking about any number of things: how to get people with a certain disease to take charge of their care, data ownership and empowerment, or better access to important information, to name a few.

Healthcare Analytics News™ covered many patient engagement initiatives, from the tried and true to the cutting-edge, over the past year. When done right, these efforts push patients to become active stakeholders. When patient engagement is overlooked, myriad problems occur. But, according to experts, one thing is clear: Patient engagement and empowerment efforts must continue to grow.

Here are 4 of our best patient engagement stories of 2017. If you want more to read, check out the vertical, and feel free to tweet your thoughts.

How the Web Could Help People with Mental Illnesses Get to Work. The secret: gamification. Web-based games and supported employment programs work together to help people with “severe mental illness” return to the workforce, this study found. Researchers also said it is particularly useful for younger people, who do not often like going to therapy. It turns out, they said, that video games hold a great deal of potential to engage these patients.

Paving the Path for Voice-Controlled AI in Pharma. Artificial intelligence (AI) has already dug into many aspects of our lives, including the living room. Bots like Amazon’s Echo are seeing greater adoption rates. So, how can these voice-enabled technologies help patients? Pharma thought leaders hope AI will one day become adept enough to discuss medications, treatment paths, and more, tailored to the individual. But it will take some work to reach that point.

Reports of a ResearchKit Revolution May be Premature. Apple’s ResearchKit could transform how investigators study health issues and build knowledge. The thing is, engaging participants might be more difficult than it seems. Sure, early studies yielded many downloads, but those users did not prove to be the ideal subjects, and communications problems plagued such bedrock efforts. Study architects must continue to refine how these convenient technological pathways can engage participants to ultimately produce stronger insights.

How Virtual Coaches Change the Conversation for Cancer Patients. For patients with a certain kind of breast cancer, research has suggested that chemotherapy is the best treatment option. Even so, many people in this group opted to pursue another path. A virtual coach—Linda, a digital avatar and breast cancer survivor—showed promise at changing their minds. “At the end of the day, what she’s trying to do is make sure that each patient walks away knowing what they need to know,” one of the virtual coach’s creators said.