Behavior Change, Chronic Condition Management, Health Systems, Personal Health Technology | By | 03/05/21 | 3 Minute Read

How Health Systems Can Lean on Digital Tools to Bridge Gaps in Care Delivery Models

Our collective habits for maintaining our health have had a hiccup. Individuals now need to think about how to safely go to the doctor for regular health checkups that they may have postponed. And health systems have to find new ways to provide care for patients in and out of the doctor’s office.  

One way to bridge the gap between visits is through digital health tools that regularly log data. Patients can share that data during visits with their provider. Healthcare providers, at the same time, can lean into the data to engage more with patients and provide potentially better care in and out of the doctor’s office. 

Leveraging Health Data from Patients’ Everyday Life

Most of a patient’s life happens at home, especially during this pandemic. Using wearables such as Fitbit can provide health systems with an array of usable data, from sleep quality to resting heart rate to exercise habits. Some Fitbit devices also monitor a person’s important health metrics, such as breathing rate, heart rate variability, and oxygen saturation (SpO2). 

Fitbit data can help healthcare providers understand a patient’s day-to-day habits better and provide a follow-up treatment that might be more achievable and effective. The health team can understand how sedentary a person may be day to day or realize that their sleep patterns are atypical. Having this useful information readily available may help health providers spot trends, patterns, or changes, some of which may be related to specific chronic conditions.

Implementing Continuous Care Outside of Doctor’s Appointments

Since patient care is constant, regular health monitoring shouldn’t stop at the doctor’s office. This is where digital health tools can go to work. A recent study noted that “Fitbit devices may effectively help large numbers of individuals become more physically fit, and thereby maintain a good health status.”  

When a person utilizes the Fitbit tools such as reminders to move, food logs, sleep reminders, and online communities, they have what they need to keep their goals top of mind. These personal reminders can be just the encouragement that users need throughout each day to make positive lifestyle adjustments.

Chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension rely heavily on behavioral and lifestyle changes. And digital health tools can help patients stay consistent and committed through a delightful, engaging experience. 

Helping Patients Take Control of Their Health

Taking an active role in their own care often helps patients realize improved health. Digital health technology can make that possible. Digital health technologies empower patients by allowing them to record their progress and monitor their sleep, food intake, resting heart rate, and exercise over time.

Thanks to digital health tools, patients can understand their health better and be more prepared for medical visits. They can also make decisions as a team with their doctors and feel empowered about making health decisions that are right for them. In a year where health is everyone’s constant concern, digital tools can help us all practice good health and make healthy decisions.

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By making the collection of valuable patient data feasible outside of the clinic, remote monitoring can facilitate care for conditions ranging from chronic diseases to recovery from acute episodes of care. | This content from Harvard Business Review is brought to you by Fitbit

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