Case Management

Low-income patients tuning in to digital solutions

Case Management Insider, June 30, 2015

Got apps? Case managers and other health professionals are increasingly turning to digital tools to help support patients after they leave the hospital. Digital technologies have been used for everything from helping patients quit smoking to helping them keep in touch with clinicians to report details about their condition, and finding resources.

Telemedicine is burgeoning, despite numerous barriers from strict regulations to licensing barriers, according to a HealthLeaders Media report.
But did you ever wonder if the populations that most need support actually have access to digital tools?
A recent webinar by the Commonwealth Fund shows that there is good news on this front. A large number of people with low income levels have smart phones and computer access, according to a 2015 Pew Internet Study.
In fact, half of those polled in households with income $30,000 or less owned smartphone and 63% of these individuals use their smartphone to find health information.
Low income respondents also reported being willing to use technology at high rates, good news if you’re looking to reach out to them digitally.
The not so good news, it’s not so easy to get reimbursement when providing digital technology support to patients, and the apps out there aren’t always user friendly, particularly if those users have physical limitations or need other accommodations. Many apps are lacking when it comes to accommodating people with disabilities, said speaker David W. Bates, MD, MSc, chief innovation officer and chief of the division of general internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who was on a team that researched the quality of healthcare apps on the market today. The team also found that many apps are available only in English and don’t accommodate different levels of health literacy, he said.
Patients often look for apps that negotiate the day-to-day logistics of healthcare treatments. However, many apps don’t deliver this information because they are more disease focused, he added.
Want more details on how the 40,000 new healthcare apps rate? Check out the full story in the August issue of HCPro’s Case Management Monthly.


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