The Empowered Patient
Patient facing health informatics is an increasingly rich and interesting field, particularly because many people now use smartphone apps, wearable and other sensors and mobile devices to monitor and report on their behavior, activity and physiologic parameters. Those new technologies now have a name – mHealth (mobile health) – that will be the topic of a later chapter. In this one, we will address some of the other tools and approaches to patient engagement through informatics. We discuss various examples of personal health records and related tools, the technologies and regulatory incentives that enable them, and the factors that have limited their usefulness and adoption by patients. We also contrast traditional and essentially ‘read-only’ patient portals with an array of newer interactive tools that provide patients with greater ability to gain insights into their own health information to better manage their care. Some of these are old ideas while others are quite new. Changing economics and the new models of payment and care are increasing interest in mHealth based approaches to patient engagement in their own care as well as connecting patients to their providers on a more continuous basis.