Patient management programs are important for both payers and patients. Successful patient management programs can improve health outcomes and quality, increase member enrollment, and improve member satisfaction, all of which support the health plan. The goal of a successful patient program is to improve the quality of medication use and the overall health and wellness of the patient, and this can be achieved through patient engagement and empowerment.

Knowing all of this, the challenge for a patient management program is often getting patients to participate. Traditionally, this has occurred through live and/or automated telephone calls and mailed letters to the patient, and additional faxes to the patients’ providers. These approaches have varied engagement results, and there are growing concerns that there is a ceiling to how many patients can be engaged through these modalities.

Adults are working longer into life than ever before, making them harder to reach and talk to during traditional business hours. In addition, letter campaigns become more and more costly as postage rates continue to rise, and a growing interest in “going green” makes mass mailings appear wasteful.

Newer technologies and the prevalence of mobile devices present new opportunities to engage patients, particularly the millennial generation that are now becoming patients themselves.

Today’s patient likely has a smart phone and may also have a tablet and/or wearable device, all of which provide a means to communicate with his/her provider(s). With that in mind, here are several ways that patient management programs can evolve using technological advances:

Text Messaging – Text messages have become the go-to method of communication for many people. Responses can typically be received in a matter or minutes, and even “busy” patients can text when a phone conversation may be a non-starter. Beyond one-way alerts and reminders to the patient, two-way exchanges and even live chat features are available.

Video Conferencing – For patients who may be not wish to text, online video capabilities allow for face-to-face counseling between clinicians and patients, even if that consultation isn’t in a conventional setting. As opposed to telephone calls, video chats allow for perception of non-verbal cues, assessment of physical symptoms, and even walkthrough tutorials, like injection training.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – AI can range from predictive modeling and analysis used to predict potential adherence issues, to apps that can monitor, track, and measure adherence through features like facial recognition, digital pills, and more.

Video on Demand – Consumption of video content via mobile devices is as common as ever, and there are services available which can provide patients with additional drug information that can accessed whenever, wherever. These videos can reinforce talking points covered during consultation and provide a compliment to education provided through patient management programs. It also allows for information to be shared in a paperless way.