by Steve Feyrer-Melk, Ph.D. M.Ed.Chief Science Officer at Nudge, Director of Lifestyle Medicine at the Optimal Heart Center
I have been in the Preventive or Lifestyle Medicine field for nearly 30 years and it has been an amazing journey. Yet, it is certainly disheartening to see advancements in medicine that are prolonging life but not positively impacting disease rates and quality of life.
Throughout this time healthcare consumers have continually evolved for many reasons such as societal changes, economic and health care pressure, increased access to health information for both treatment and preventive measures, lack of availability of health professionals, and more.
One of the truly interesting observations I have made over the years is the unfortunate inability for the healthcare system to effectively navigate changes in healthcare consumers and address them individually on their personal terms, both physically and mentally.
Fortunately, we are starting to identify many individuals, professionals and organizations willing to diverge from the common thought process and usual methodologies and forge a new trail that meets the patient where they are.
Looking specifically at advancements in health technology it has become very apparent that the greatest positive impact comes from innovations that address communication, connectedness, and engagement.
Technology that enhances these areas with ease and effectiveness, such as Zoom Video Conferencing or the Nudge Health Coaching Platform, provide valuable tools for health professionals to successfully enhance the human element of healthcare.
And THAT is where the rubber meets the road for the future of guiding individuals to optimal health.
Over the course of my many years, both in practice and researching, it has become clear that the genesis of health and well-being does not emanate from the healthcare industry, but instead from within each and every individual healthcare consumer.
Think about that.
Intrinsic motivation is the key for real health behavior change and yet for decades many in the health industry remain caught in the “Doctor as Expert” cycle.
From a diagnosis and treating standpoint, the healthcare industry does an amazing job. But how many people out of 100 would rather have their disease diagnosed and treated when they could instead choose to prevent the disease in the first place?
There is a HUGE conceptual chasm because the healthcare industry is not equipped to serve in a more preventive manner and finds itself implementing the “same-old-same-old” methods and often giving lip service of “Prevention” or “Wellness”.
Understanding that healthcare consumers want something that is not offered by the current system, I believe that by using the right tools we are poised to make a significant difference in helping those who wish to make positive changes to benefit health and wellbeing now and into the future.
From a behavior standpoint, we know that connection and engagement is the key to guiding patients toward optimal health. In my own practice, it was nearly 8 years ago when we decided to take the leap and dive headfirst into a true engagement model where we could deeply connect with patients.
Unfortunately, I quickly realized it was a daunting task. As an example, we identified the need connect and engage patients regarding lifestyle behaviors while they were away from the practice. We tried, but with the available technology like the telephone, emails, and Fitbit wearables, it was nearly impossible.
Imagine trying to organize an engagement strategy for nearly 100 patients using a simple spreadsheet of Fitbit account logins, passwords, and so on... As you might guess, this didn’t last long as passwords were changed, connecting was nearly impossible, and phone calls didn’t cut it.
Fortunately, having the right technology in our hands takes this from a daunting task to one that is efficient, effective, and powerful.
The Nudge platform for example, lets me log into one account to communicate with individuals, see real lifestyle data, and have the system alert me to what’s important to address. Having easy access to this information allows me to focus on the personal needs of my patients through effective communication in the most tactful way.
Strengthening this is the ability to integrate quick, asynchronous communications from one place. This was a huge leap forward for the efficiency and effectiveness of my remote coaching, but for my practice - and for any great strategy for lasting health engagement - there was still one thing missing.
And that brings is back to the power of Zoom Video Conferencing.
The Importance of Facetime
One correlation that has held strong, from smallest remote health coaching programs to the most complex population health management initiatives, if you can tie personal facetime with participants in your workflows you will very likely end up with a more effective engagement strategy.
This may strike you as an overwhelming proposition if you think we are talking about scheduling knee-to-knee time with each and every participant.
On the contrary, the power of facetime is not only found when meeting physically in person, facetime is successful in other forms. Simply, I can schedule a call with a patient in my practice within the Nudge app. Send them a reminder and a link to join a HIPAA-compliant video conference using Zoom (via email or Nudge), and even send them a link to a recording of our conversation after the fact.
Another way to leverage Zoom to get facetime is to use it asynchronously. By combining Zoom and Nudge Coach, I can produce a short, 2-minute recorded message to every participant that goes through a specific point that is important to the specific individual.
Building this into the facetime workflow is a great systematic approach.
An Effective And Efficient Combination
Let’s be honest, the effectiveness of your population health initiative hinges on how well you are able to ‘humanize the experience’. Often the most effective way to humanize the experience and realize lasting engagement is by getting 1-on-1 facetime with each participant.
Remember, this facetime can be either via remote engagement through a platform like Zoom or by an in-person opportunity sitting knee-to-knee with a patient.
In the end, building facetime opportunities into a systematic approach to onboarding your program participants is required to have effective long-term success.
Combining the efficiency of asynchronous SMS-style communication through an in-app experience like Nudge, with the personal touch of facetime sessions in Zoom, has been a magical combination for my practice and for many of the initiatives we’ve advised.
- Speak to the desires of your target participants with your outreach messaging.
- Create a systematic approach to onboarding.
- Integrate ways to humanize the experience for each participant.
An engagement strategy that contains these key components offers greater potential success for health management program enrollment and lasting engagement.
As a result, remote coaching and population health management efforts gain power and momentum as individuals and companies optimize health, improve outcomes, reduce costs, and manage risk in a more effective manner.