How we provide care to our patients and clients has changed drastically over the past few months. Virtual appointments have become the new norm, being that they are a safer and more convenient option. However, as we’ve learned more and more, we’ve realized how the benefits of telehealth expand far beyond just appointments.
Research has shown that virtual care apps are not only effective in changing health-related behaviors and improve patient outcomes but also increase patient satisfaction. While many virtual care apps allow clients to work individually on their goals, a select few allow collaboration between provider and client. These apps provide clients with consistent support from their healthcare practitioner throughout their healthcare journey.
Benefits of Virtual Care Apps
While the focus of mobile health apps is on improving health outcomes through goal setting and tracking progress, leveraging an app with secure provider-client messaging capabilities adds a layer of accountability and support to working together virtually. Engaging with clients in-between sessions provides you the opportunity to address client challenges as they happen. Real-time support is a powerful motivator for wellness patients.
A review of research studies from 2014 showed that patient-provider messaging increased client self-efficacy and self-management in patients who had ailments such as back pain, dyspnea, and heart failure. Several telehealth case studies also showed positive health outcomes for patients, including improved HbA1C levels for diabetic patients. Another telehealth case study showed that not only did using telehealth help increase weight reduction, but frequent and personal interactions may also benefit weight loss results.
Use the telehealth messaging feature to check-in with clients in between appointments, ask if they have any questions, or need a refresher on information discussed from your previous session. You can also send motivational messages, as well as message blasts to multiple clients at once for important announcements. Essentially, the telehealth chat feature within the mobile app should act as a medium for expanding provider-client communication beyond appointments, in order to develop a stronger relationship as well as work towards positive health outcomes.
Tip: Be sure that the messaging feature is HIPAA-compliant. When using a virtual care app to work with clients, personal health information is being shared and it is important to protect both you and your client.
2. Review food journals
A central feature of many virtual care apps is the ability to food log. Whether this includes logging macronutrients and calories, or just taking photos of their food and identifying hunger cues, many clients find food journaling to be a productive part of their wellness journey. In a study completed at West Virginia University, it was found that participants who consistently recorded their food intake lost more weight than participants who rarely or never recorded intake. While our goal isn’t always weight loss, food journals add another layer of accountability for the patient.
Add accountability by checking in on a client’s food journal through the app right after they log. Reviewing a patient’s food logs will reveal important details about their dietary habits, portions, and the nutritional quality of their meals. For healthcare providers, this information is invaluable in guiding clients towards realistic goals.
Beyond logging meals, patients can also have the ability to log other valuable information for their healthcare provider. This can include symptoms, habits, activity, and more. With all of this information available through a patient portal, the entire healthcare team can leverage this data to provide more personalized and comprehensive client care. One way to easily add this to your offerings and coordinate with clients on food, lifestyle, and activity journaling is through Healthie’s Free Starter plan. Learn more about these free services here.
3. Track telehealth metrics
Most health apps also stress the importance of tracking metrics throughout the wellness journey. While weight used to be the most common metric to track, fitness apps have expanded their capabilities to include data such as steps, sleep, exercise, blood sugar levels, and more. Many apps also allow users to sync wearable technology such as Fitbits or Apple Watches for seamless data tracking.
Tracking telehealth metrics together is a relevant and data-driven approach that will solidify clients’ confidence in their progress; actually being able to see results forming on a graph or chart will give them motivation and align them to stay determined and focused throughout their entire journey.
As the provider, you have the ability to monitor client progress using the metrics they track, and provide feedback and motivation in real-time, in a similar manner to how you would monitor their food journals. Additionally, for clients, tracking metrics in a place they know their provider will be able to view adds a layer of accountability.
4. Set goals
Beyond making some steps towards change, health goals are achieved when patients can make consistent habit-forming changes. Making a collaborative effort towards goal setting shows your patients that you care about their progress and future success.
Goal setting has been shown to be effective in helping adults achieve changs in their dietary or physical activity behaviors. Additionally, goal setting interventions that included SUPPORT from a provider were much more effective than those in which patients set goals and worked on them individually.
While not as common of a feature, certain virtual care apps do allow clients to set health and wellness goals, and monitor progress within the app. Having the ability to offer goals logging through a mobile app is a great way to keep patients accountable and make progress throughout your time working together. Moreover, sharing goals through telehealth communication will help you get to know your patient better. You know exactly what they want to improve upon, and you can guide them in the right direction.
With Healthie’s Client Engagement Portal, you can establish wellness goals for clients to track on a daily, weekly, and long-term basis with customizable client notifications/reminders. Click here to try this feature, and many others, for free today with Healthie’s Starter Plan.
5. Run wellness programs
With a comprehensive virtual care app, you may have the ability to offer online programs for clients to complete on their own time, while still focusing on making progress towards their wellness goals. Hosting a virtual wellness program enables healthcare practitioners to deliver content and support in a way that is engaging for participants.
Incorporating a wellness program into your practice is a great way to automate educational materials for current and prospective clients. Participants in your program have the opportunity to work through modules, videos, and goals on their own, and then come back to you with additional goals to work on together. Especially with the convenience of accessing the program through a mobile app, clients are sure to spend time really diving into the program, learning, and implementing the information into their day-to-day life.
Healthie’s Virtual Care App
Healthie is a HIPAA-compliant, telehealth and patient engagement platform that enables health and wellness organizations to deliver on-site and virtual counseling to patients, expand scope of services offered, and track healthcare outcomes. To set up a free Starter account today, click here. Along with the web platform, both providers and clients have access to the Healthie Mobile App:
✔️ Review client food journals, metrics, and goals
✔️ Message clients and other providers
✔️ Access calendar and appointments
✔️ Upload documents
✔️ Host telehealth appointments
✔️ Log meals and metrics directly through the app
✔️ Check off goal progress
✔️ Message providers with questions and clarifications
✔️ Schedule appointments and receive reminders
✔️ Complete program
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