Digital tools have become an essential part of healthcare delivery, but payers and health systems still face the task of getting members and patients to engage with digital solutions -- without engagement, a tool is useless.
Decision-makers should be less quick to check the "digital health" box and more discerning about which tools will engage their patient population. The more tailored and personal a solution, the more actively a patient will use it: supporting the case for single service-line tools that deliver actionable tasks targeted to the patient's care needs versus a generalized, one-size-fits-all tool that primarily supports administrative tasks.
With the right tools, payers and providers have the opportunity to shape users' behavior to empower their active participation in their own health, which has far-reaching implications and benefits for the patient as well as for providers hoping to direct them on a healthy future care path within the health system.
In our recent webinar, the Babyscripts team discussed our approach to patient engagement, including product features to educate and engage mothers on mental health issues, often a deprioritized topic at in-person appointments. Dr. Kathryn Marko joined to offer updates on the myMentalHealth pilot at GW-MFA. We've pulled out some highlights below.
The importance of the user experience.
In our experience, the best approaches to engage the patient are learned through many iterations of testing and feedback, a time and resource-intensive process that is frequently outside the capacity of a health system's in-house development team, but a standard part of Babyscripts' product development workflow.
Empathy is the first step in our UX workflow. We start by considering user’s pain points -- what are the problems that we are looking to solve? We roll out new features in a testing environment, but remain open to changes. It's possible for some patients to say they like a feature in testing and then don’t use it in a real world scenario, so we continue to iterate through the design process.
Touchpoints can and should be designed to shape patient behavior, while helping patients meet their goals (in our case, healthy pregnancies). These behaviors include everything from taking regular blood pressure readings to practicing mindfulness to making healthy eating choices, and ultimately should increase a patient's confidence in their ability to participate in their care as well as strengthen the trust and confidence they have in their provider and health system.
Normalizing the mental health conversation.
Mental health in pregnancy is an area where we see a lot of opportunity for engaging patients. Patients don’t have mental health conversations with their providers unless they bring them up themselves, and providers are navigating a difficult area when it comes to mental health concerns that are outside their clinical purview:
🤰“As a patient, I would like mental health to be normalized during pregnancy, so that I can have open conversations about it with my provider and feel better informed about how to care for myself.”
👩⚕️"From the provider side, I want to easily assess my patient’s wellbeing while limiting my health system’s liability risk.”
We want to make sure that patients are aware of the resources that they have while the providers have limited liability, which has informed the design of our myMentalHealth product.
Separation of behavioral health treatment and lack of designated resources is driving maternal mortality caused by mental health issues. myMentalHealth helps our providers integrate more mental health resources and empowers moms to address their own mental health issues. The goal is to make mental health a more common topic — we want to de-stigmatize it, encourage mothers to talk about these issues to their provider, and help them understand what is normal and what isn’t.
We don’t want to rely on the patients themselves to be bringing these things to provider attention. Through the app, the patient receives assessments that are then scored and elevated to the provider. The app surfaces the relevant resources for the patient to familiarize themselves with mental health issues and connect to local resources through a phone number or website. When there is a trigger, the provider receives an alert through a call system, so they can think about and implement appropriate next steps.
The alert can also be sent through our provider-facing dashboard, which enables the provider to compare to prior events, as well as see if another member of the care team has already addressed the event.
Piloting myMentalHealth at GW-MFA
Dr. Kathryn Marko explained the motivation for implementing myMentalHealth:
"We asked, 'Can we improve the screening rate for mental health during prenatal period with a digitally deployed assessment? By replacing a paper assessment with a digital assessment?'
Paper assessments needed to be gathered and recorded in the patient record. We pushed out the digital assessment so that the patients could do it on their own time and hopefully increase the completion rate for mental health assessments.
Initial data is very promising that mobile assessments on a platform that patients are already using and comfortable with will increase their compliance. The assessments were well received by patients and it was a way to open up these conversations significantly more frequently."
Rolling out mental health assessments was a quick win for patient engagement at GW-MFA with high impact and low effort, setting up the team at GW-MFA to focus their attention on high impact, high effort initiatives.