How to Engage With a Population to Break Down Barriers to Health Improvements


A joint survey conducted by the American Telemedicine Association and WEGO Health of active healthcare users found that consumers are overwhelmingly interested in using telehealth as a replacement or complement to in-person care, citing convenience as the top motivator.

Of the 78% of the 429 survey respondents who had not used telehealth in the last year, a majority reported that they thought telehealth would be more convenient, even though their provider did not offer virtual appointments. This demographic reported that ease of scheduling, reduced travel, and increased access to care for immobile patients would motivate them to choose virtual visits over in-person care.

“For certain patient populations, telehealth solutions that monitor patient data in near real-time can be employed as a great feedback tool, alerting the provider when the patient’s values are out of range so they can intervene early,” Harter says.

“Telemedicine solutions can better engage patients with their care and ultimately improve outcome and costs,” adds Dr. Joe Smith, CEO of Reflexion Health, a digital healthcare company and pioneer in the emerging tele-rehab vertical. “Anything that decreases the effort or complexity for patients in their pursuit of health or recovery from illness can help. Telemedicine, when appropriately used, can help patients defeat the ‘tyranny of geography’—allowing them to check in with their clinician without having to travel to an office or hospital. The convenience of telemedicine alleviates many of the challenges typically associated with healthcare delivery, such as setting an appointment, getting to a doctor’s office, paying for parking (or just looking for parking), waiting for the doctor, and the list goes on and on.”

Smith notes that this engagement solution “undoubtedly” has a significant impact on population health. “When appropriately applied, telemedicine approaches can democratize and decentralize healthcare, and target those in a broader population who are most in need of intervention with tailored access to expertise, providing personalized, actionable, and timely information,” he says.

Reflexion engages rehab patients with a virtual exercise rehabilitation assistant, an avatar named VERA™. VERA interacts with patients, teaches them how to do the exercise, measures performance, and guides individuals having trouble. This interactive at-home component has driven significant results. “We have definitely seen greater adoption and engagement,” Smith says. “For example, a typical home exercise program has an adherence rate of 15 to 42 percent, but with VERA, patient adherence skyrockets to 76 percent.”

Smith further notes that the in-home solution has been broadly accepted by older adults ready to take control of their health through telemedicine. “Seniors embrace technology and are excited to now have the tools to become autonomous when it comes to their health and be proactive,” he says.

Breaking down barriers 

Like Smith, Harter has seen that more often than not, people are eager to manage their health when given personalized technology solutions to ease the real or perceived barriers.

“Certainly willingness to adopt patient engagement solutions that involve technology varies from patient to patient,” Harter says. However, she adds, “most patients, or their caregivers/advocates, have embraced and demanded patient engagement technology.”