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Compendium
March 2022
Volume 43, Issue 3

Leveraging App Technologies to Boost Patient Engagement

Chuck Le, DDS

Although more concerned than ever about their health and overall well-being as a result of the global pandemic, many people have avoided going to medical centers as much as possible. Instead, patients are increasingly relying on technology to keep track of their health at home.

Sixty percent of people now like to use technology to connect with doctors and manage their own care.1 This is evident in the market size for patient engagement solutions in the United States, which is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 16.6% from 2021 to 2028.2

The inherent value that dental healthcare apps bring to patients is one of the most compelling reasons for practitioners to invest in healthcare application technology. Patients may now access healthcare specialists via telemedicine, which saves them money and travel time. They can view their important health records on their mobile devices and even arrange and attend appointments with their dental clinic from the convenience of home.

This online access to healthcare specialists has proven to be incredibly beneficial for patients worldwide, especially in the past 2 years, when societal distancing has made it difficult for remote patients to receive the medical care they require in a timely manner. As the market for healthcare software solutions grows, more healthcare professionals are looking into solutions that might improve patient involvement.

Patient Communication Solutions

Specialized patient engagement platforms offer healthcare companies clinically aligned communication solutions. Such a platform centralizes all patient communications in one location, making them easier to organize, distribute, and track. Platforms can feature integrated workflow that includes everything from content production through app development, user management, engagement measurement, and segmented content distribution, as well as easy interaction with current systems. Healthcare organizations can use the platform to produce and deliver omnichannel content across platforms, including cross-platform apps, the web, patient entertainment systems, digital signage, and print.

Thus, dental practices should be familiar with patient engagement software, including some of the developing technologies that can make a practice's solutions stand out. Certain apps can provide the following benefits to the dental profession3:

Easier Access to Data and Services

Dental practices that create their own apps can provide their patients a simple and handy method to access a variety of services and information. Patients may, for example, arrange appointments, obtain instructions on post-treatment care, pay dental bills, and verify the professionals available in a specific location, all by using the app on their smartphone or tablet.

Dental clinics can also employ mobile apps to establish electronic records, which is advantageous to both patients and practitioners. Patients can check information about their upcoming visits and request modifications, view the evolution of their treatment, enter vital information (such as declaring allergies), and keep track of their diagnosis all in one place.

Professionals, for their part, can view the patient's medical history, including previous diagnoses, follow-up on treatments advised by other professionals, review health information, and even manage their daily appointments for greater efficiency.

This approach improves accessibility for everyone involved by placing critical information at the fingertips of both practitioners and patients. As a result, the practice can become more organized, improve its time management, and make administrative chores more convenient.

Convenient Distribution of Dental Educational Materials

Dentistry mobile apps can potentially have a strong influence in patient education. They can be utilized to teach patients about daily oral care practices, illustrate diseases and treatments, and assist patients in making informed decisions when multiple solutions are available for a specific dental concern.

The instructional content given by the mobile app's educational content will be largely determined by the dental clinic's purpose, the app development budget, and the mobile app development team itself. The dental mobile app should incorporate visual and interactive aspects. Thus, a dental smartphone app might include 3D renderings of a set of teeth damaged by various disorders. By hitting key trigger points, the professional or the patient might zoom in and out, swivel for a better view, and acquire more information.

These features can help patients better understand dental disorders and procedures, allowing them to make more informed decisions regarding their own dental health.

Revealing New Opportunities

Finally, developing a custom healthcare app can reveal growth prospects that would otherwise go unnoticed. As an excellent tool for healthcare offices to communicate with their patients, the mobile app could be used to remind clients of regular checkups or to discuss prospective financial concerns, for example.

Furthermore, a custom healthcare app can include a video chat option,4 allowing patients to communicate with a professional without having to leave their homes. This could be utilized to provide early diagnosis and recommendations on, say, how to relieve discomfort or prepare for forthcoming treatment. It could also aid in the reduction of self-diagnoses, which are common in dentistry and frequently lead to more issues.

Lastly, apps can be an excellent approach to obtain feedback on the clinic's practice, professionals, and general attention. Opening such a conduit allows specialists to communicate directly with highly engaged patients, who can suggest improvements and point out flaws that might otherwise be overlooked.

Engaging Patients Through Innovative Technologies

As one can see, a patient engagement app-and the advantages it may provide-can be vital to a dental practice. However, there are even more emerging technologies that have the potential to take patient involvement to new heights. These include the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain.

The Internet of Things

The internet of medical things is a collection of digital solutions for managing patients, personnel, and assets. In terms of improving patient involvement, one of the most common applications of IoT is remote patient monitoring.

Linked devices record medical information and transfer it to HIPAA-compliant cloud servers where clinicians can securely access the data.5 IoT systems can, for example, collect information about oral health and send it to clinicians for early diagnosis of potential health issues. Patients can become much more involved in their healthcare as a result of the use of linked devices, such as wearables, while medical practitioners can obtain previously unavailable insights about patient behavior.

Artificial Intelligence

AI has a wide range of applications across the entire dental healthcare industry. However, in the context of patient interaction, a pair of AI applications are particularly important. The first is predicting the likelihood of illness. AI's main strength is its capacity to process massive amounts of data at a rate that no human can match. As a result, it can swiftly assess patient data and identify persons who are at risk of contracting a certain problem. When AI informs doctors, they can, in turn, invite the patient in for a check-up, start curing medicines, or propose preventative measures that patients may adopt.

Communication with patients is made easier. With healthcare customers desiring easy access to medical information and wanting to take a more active role in their health, it is only normal for them to anticipate a prompt answer whenever they contact their doctor. These client expectations can be met using AI-powered chatbots. Such intelligent tools can screen patient requests, respond to simple questions, and connect users with either information resources or a human operator, allowing providers to streamline patient communication.

The second important AI application is the creation of unique patient experiences. Healthcare practitioners have access to valuable medical information that shows patterns in patient behavior. AI can assist in the processing of this data and the extraction of useful insights that medical personnel can utilize to provide a more tailored level of treatment. Healthcare providers using AI-powered patient engagement software can set themselves apart from the competition by predicting requirements and providing exclusive services.

Blockchain

The application of blockchain technology in healthcare to promote patient involvement may be less clear; however, it begins to make sense when bearing in mind that the goal is to enable people to become more involved and in command of their medical data. Without blockchain, patients have restricted control of their health data, making it more difficult for different providers to work together, and it can raise security concerns that are associated with data exchange.

Healthcare professionals can dramatically increase patient trust by embracing blockchain networks that use interoperability standards, cryptography, and smart contracts. This allows patients to see what transpires with their data and have more confidence in the security of their data.

Conclusion

Patient engagement application development is becoming increasingly popular in the medical field. Furthermore, the advent of innovative technology has paved the path for IT solutions to increase efficiency and provide extra client touchpoints.

Ultimately, it is up to each dental healthcare center to decide whether or not to pursue the mobile app trend. Mobile development can provide enormous transformational potential. More data, accessibility, services, and useful learning content for patients and new opportunities for practice growth are all advantages that should be highly sought-after.

References

1. How COVID-19 has permanently changed patient behavior. Accenture website. July 10, 2020. https://www.accenture.com/gr-en/insights/life-sciences/coronavirus-patient-behavior-research. Accessed January 13, 2022.

2. U.S. Patient Engagement Solutions Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Delivery Type (Web-based, Cloud-based, On-premise), By Component, By End Use, By Application, By Therapeutic Area, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 - 2028. San Francisco, CA: Grand View Research; June 2021.

3. Krieger M. Leveraging today's technology: a smart and rewarding way to boost profits. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2019;40(9):568.

4. Kamani V. Critical features to include when developing a healthcare app. Arkenea website. https://arkenea.com/blog/healthcare-app-features/. Accessed January 13, 2022.

5. HIPAA Compliant Hosting. Atlantic.net website. https://www.atlantic.net/hipaa-compliant-hosting/. Accessed January 13, 2022.

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