Addressing the healthcare needs of a child requires collaboration and partnership between the family and the health professionals. Pediatric-centered digital health tools can help.
Consumers today love convenience and are accustomed to using digital tools in their everyday lives. For example, according to the Pew Research Center, smartphone ownership in the United States has jumped from 35% in 2011 to 77% in 2018. This rapid expansion of technological platforms has set the stage for the advancement of healthcare digitization.
Healthcare consumers want the same technological advances reflected in their interactions with their healthcare
In the case of pediatric disease management, parents often perform extraordinary duties and make decisions on weekly or daily bases. Similarly, parents and caregivers want information about their child’s condition to respond effectively in their various health needs. For example, 93% of patients said that they expect to use digital tools that facilitate patient-provider interactions.
An engaging digital platform can increase a parent’s ability and willingness to manage their child’s healthcare. Therefore, for the one in four children living with a chronic disease, a connected model of care for patients, families, and providers can make a world of difference.
To ensure the right care is delivered at the right place and time, collaboration and partnership between the family and health professional is critical.
The parent-provider relationship in pediatrics
The doctor-patient relationship – in this case, doctor-parent relationship – remains at the heart of people’s perceptions of healthcare. Thus, physicians must build trust with their patients by administering care and responses in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, pediatric digital health platforms lag in overall quality and ease of use compared to those for adults. Digital health tools designed specifically with the child in mind help parents be more engaged in their child’s care. In addition, tools help providers be more involved in the patients’ care.
From the patients’ perspective:
Patients who understand their doctors are more likely to engage in healthier behaviors, understand treatment options, and follow medication or check-up schedules. Thus, offering a digital experience to parents is instrumental in helping patients and families stay on-top of treatment protocols and work more closely with their care teams. From keeping track of their child’s health record to managing the illness at home, care between office visits is improved.
From the providers’ perspective:
Digital health solutions tied directly into an electronic health record (EHR) are increasingly valuable. Why? Because EHR integration leverages data and insights to provide relevant information, alerts to threats and opportunities, and financial and operational guidance. For example, apps provide real-time results to healthcare practitioners anywhere and anytime. In return, the potential for detection and intervention for vulnerable patients is increased.
Unfortunately, the unique needs of pediatric populations are commonly neglected when digital health technologies are designed. For example, it can be a struggle to connect the child with their caregivers at home and in school as well as their clinical team. To successfully drive parent engagement digital health platforms should consider the following elements:
1. Simple and convenient. Firstly, today’s consumers are accustomed to the convenience of smartphones and access many day-to-day tools from the touch of a fingertip. Similarly, patients are looking for tools that make their interactions with providers easy and convenient. The interface should treat the whole child in one aggregated location. The simpler the platform, the better.
2. Responsive digital properties. Secondly, providers can extend care beyond ambulatory settings by providing ongoing support, timely information, and personalized resources that help families care for their children. Likewise, digital health tools that are responsive to patient inputs help parents make more informed decisions about their child’s health, which is key to improving patient outcomes and reducing readmissions. In addition, using an app with a messaging feature can play a significant role in improving communication and accessibility for patients to communicate with their providers.
3. Educational and interactive. Thirdly, having a doctor who clearly and simply explains diagnoses and treatments well is increasingly important to healthcare consumers. Educational content such as disease-specific individual health education is important to inform the parent about their child’s condition. In addition, interactive tools that virtually connect the patient to their physician can empower consumers to actively manage their own health.