How To

Can mHealth Improve Patient Engagement & Self-Management?

June 11, 2015 | Adam Turinas

Patient engagement apps can enable healthcare organizations to successfully encourage patients’ behavioral change and self-management, with the right functionality. These apps can make it easy for patients to proactively manage their overall health and pursue specific health goals so long as they keep patients informed, facilitate patient communication and simplify self-management.

Let’s take a closer look at how patient engagement apps can be developed to achieve all 3 of these objectives:

Inform & Empower

Patient engagement apps that deliver personal medical records and disease-specific information educate and empower patients so that they can engage in shared decision making with providers. In order to encourage patients’ behavioral change and self-management, these mHealth apps:

  • Enable patients to quickly access and review their provider’s medical advice and/or clinical records
  • Deliver relevant, supplementary information on managing or preventing disease

All of the information patients need to have informed discussions with their provider should be immediately accessible through their patient engagement app.

Facilitate patient communication

Patient communication is critical to achieving quality care delivery. Well-executed patient engagement apps facilitate physician-patient communication and mobile reminder delivery, and involve patients’ families and/or caretakers in the care process. These apps can enable patients, and their loved ones or caretakers to strengthen their understanding of physicians’ recommendations by:

  • Making it easy for patients to identify and call their provider’s office line
  • Allowing patients and their loved ones/caretakers to quickly obtain answers by engaging in secure texting with clinical care coordinators

In this way, patients can address and discuss questions that were not resolved during their appointment, evaluate their decision to make behavioral changes, and ultimately make informed health decisions with their clinical and non-clinical care team.

Enabling self-management

For patients who suffer from chronic diseases, patient engagement apps should simplify the self-management process. It’s critical that these apps support patients in following through on treatment plans and health goals once outside of the care setting, and enable patients’ clinical and nonclinical care teams to offer support. Patient engagement apps can encourage patients to become more proactive in managing their health by:

  • Enabling patients to establish, capture or document health goals
  • Allowing patient’s clinical care team, caretakers or loved ones to track whether patients are following their action plans, and deliver secure text reminders
  • Facilitate social sharing so that patients can engage their extended support network of friends and family in their self-management
  • Encourage patients’ participation in health improvement programs offered by their provider, hospital or health network
  • Simplify the prescription management process

Patient engagement app’s self-management features make it both easy and socially rewarding for patients to follow through on their health action plans. At the same time, providers and clinicians are able to deliver daily care support to patients without obstructing their workflow efficiency.


By imparting knowledge, simplifying patients’ regimens, and enhancing communication patient engagement apps adhere to many of the best practices recommended in patient adherence studies. Ultimately, these well-executed, patient engagement apps enable healthcare organizations to promote change in behavior among patients, and drive positive health outcomes.

Stay tuned for the next installation of our blog series on how to evaluate the functionality and features of patient engagement apps. To supplement this discussion, we’ve also created a checklist containing 40+ features, issues and functions to address when comparing patient engagement apps:

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