Tech To Engage Consumers: Innovators Who Are Making It Work

Category: Blog

Spread the love

by Athena Mandros

Today we kicked off The 2016 OPEN MINDS Technology and Informatics Institute here in Washington, D.C. After attending a day of exciting sessions, one theme stands out: technology only works if consumers are engaged and actually want to use it. The real challenge is finding the technologies that consumers want, and that also give payer and provider organizations a return on investment through better outcomes or lower costs.

During the session Innovations In Consumer Technology: How To Use Tech To Increase Engagement & Improve Satisfaction, led by my colleague and OPEN MINDS senior associate Ken Carr, we heard from three organizations that are focused on engaging consumers to ensure better outcomes and improve care.

First to speak was Ron Goldman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Kognito in New York, New York. Kognito is a virtual simulation platform designed to enhance consumer and clinician interaction through virtual role playing. The program uses virtual simulations and virtual humans because they’ve found that individuals are more comfortable with, and more likely to take feedback from, virtual humans rather than real people. The program has been used for antibiotic education, coaching parents to read to children, motivational interview skills, and practice exposure therapy for those who have experienced trauma. Currently, the simulations have been embedded in the curriculum of 60 social work, nursing, and medical schools. Three of Kognito’s simulations have been listed in the SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) due to their outcomes (see Kognito At-Risk for College Students; Kognito At-Risk for High School Educators; Kognito Family of Heroes). For the future, Kognito is working on developing simulations for informal caregivers of consumers with Alzheimer’s.

Mr. Goldman’s solution to consumer engagement through tech? When consumers and clinical professionals are comfortable in a situation and have considered how the other individual is feeling, consumers are more likely to be interactive and receptive to engagement and treatment.

Second to speak was Pat Deegan, principal at Pat Deegan and Associates, LLC in Byfield, Massachusetts. Ms. Deegan has developed Common Ground, a shared decision making program that utilizes a web-based technology to help consumers prepare for visits to clinical professionals and treatment planning in psychiatric medication clinics. Before an appointment, the consumer fills out an online questionnaire that is used to create their own treatment goals and identify their concerns with the treatment planning process. That consumer health report is shared with the psychiatrist during the appointment. The focus of the program is to facilitate consumer control over the treatment planning process. The health report is then reviewed by a peer in recovery and also sent to the consumer’s entire care team. Ms. Deegan notes that this system takes the consumer’s voice and amplifies it, creating a more person-directed approach to care that helps to make the most of every 15-minute doctor’s visit or medication check.

Ms. Deegan’s solution to consumer engagement through tech? Put the person at the center and allow them to direct their care. When consumers have agency and a voice in their treatment, they are more likely to engage.

Last to speak, was Davis Park, Director at Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing in Glendale, California. Front Porch uses Paro, a robotic seal, and Hasbro Joy For All robotic companions, as patient engagement tools in seven of its memory care communities. The Paro is a seal that responds to touch and voices by making sounds, moving around, and blinking. The seal also has antibacterial fur and is designed to withstand rough treatment. Over six months, Front Porch found higher level of engagements with caregivers, other patients and families; clearer speech; and reduced use of psychotropic medication. Paro, and tools like Paro, are effective to engaging consumers with and without memory issues. For the future, Front Porch is figuring out how to use Paro for speech therapy and receive reimbursement at the same time.

Mr. Park’s solution to consumer engagement through tech? Build a culture that is supportive of technology and innovation. Many consumers like using new tech tools, and we need to build a system that is supportive of these new engagement tools.