Managing chronic conditions requires daily effort from patients. Whether that means taking prescribed medication, following a specific diet or monitoring health metrics, there are routines that chronic patients need to follow in order to effectively manage their health. These days, a growing number of Americans with chronic health conditions have a trick up their sleeve (or rather, on their wrist) that they can use to help monitor and manage chronic disease: a smartwatch. This means healthcare providers may have more opportunities to offer chronic disease management support.
One of the reasons smartwatches are useful in the fight against chronic disease is because they help create more informed and engaged patients. Smartwatches and health management applications (apps) can be used by patients with chronic conditions to view and track key health metrics. For example, a patient who uses a glucose monitoring device for routine monitoring can sync the device with a smartwatch to make viewing and tracking glucose readings even easier. And, because smartwatches are often worn all day, they are convenient and accessible to patients with chronic conditions.
Smartwatches are rising in popularity. More than one in ten adults in the United States (11.1%) are expected to use a smartwatch in 2019. That is equivalent to 28.7 million adults. As the number of smartwatch users grows, so does the number of opportunities doctors and their staff have to leverage these devices for chronic disease management. Healthcare teams can engage smartwatch users and incorporate these devices into chronic care in several ways. Here are two:
- Deliver notifications that encourage and remind patients to take actions to manage their chronic conditions. More than half of smartwatch owners (54%) say they use their device’s notification or text message functionality daily. Healthcare teams can communicate with this attentive audience by sending notifications, like text messages, to remind chronic patients to take their medication, watch their sodium intake, get 30 minutes of daily activity or schedule a preventive screening like a foot or eye exam. According to a Intrado survey, six in ten Americans (60%) believe it is either extremely or very important for their healthcare providers to communicate with them via texting outside of in-person appointments. Healthcare teams can give patients the between-visit communication they want and keep chronic disease management on track by sending patients targeted messages that can easily be viewed on smartwatches.
- Send patients supplemental information to help them understand and act on health insights. Patients may use a smartwatch to record certain metrics they want to track in a health app. Of course, unless patients understand what those metrics mean, tracking them isn’t very helpful. Sending patients with high blood pressure, for example, an informational email that explains the difference between a systolic and diastolic number lays out blood pressure guidelines and ensures patients know their own blood pressure goals can give meaning to the health metrics that chronic patients are recording with their smartwatches.
Sending patients notifications and information, such as those mentioned above, is simple. Healthcare teams can deliver these types of engagement communications using the same technology they currently use to deliver appointment reminder messages.
To learn more about the various ways healthcare teams can take advantage of the rise in smartwatches’ popularity to strengthen chronic care, download Smart Strategies for Capitalizing on Patients’ Smartwatch Use.