Health systems are actively developing consumer technologies to help patients better manage their health, and a recent report involving several of these health systems revealed some novel ways to accomplish this goal.  Using patient-centered health care technologies, these health sytems were able to deliver positive measurable outcomes for patients, researchers reported in the March issue of Health Affairs.  

In one example cited in the paper, officials with Ochsner Health System reported using their online patient portal to help treat hypertension with a novel digital medicine program that combined patient-reported blood pressure data, clinical data, and coaching.  Outcomes showed that medication adherence among patients improved 14% while 79% achieved greater blood pressure control. Overall, clinicians saw a 29 percent reduction in clinic visits.

Sutter Health officials reported using their patient portal to help patients self-manage their diabetes. Online reminders of hemoglobin A1c monitoring among patients with diabetes improved the rate of A1c test completion by 33.9%. Overall, patients with previously uncontrolled diabetes had a significant reduction in HbA1c at 6 months compared to usual care.

Stanford Health Care officials reported using their patient portal to help patients with cancer manage stress. Patients were surveyed before clinic visits to identify unaddressed symptoms. About 40% of patients who responded reported experiencing distress. These responses led to more than 6,000 referrals for psychotherapy, nutrition, and other services.

In 2016, UC San Diego Health opened Jacobs Medical Center, a 245-bed hospital that offers advanced surgery, cancer care, cardiac rehabilitation, and birthing options. To put patients in direct control of their experience, an Apple tablet was placed in every patient room. The tablets enable patients to control room temperature, lighting and entertainment options, all from their beds. The tablets also enable access to personal medical information, such as test results and schedules of medications or upcoming procedures. Photographs and biographies of their care team are also available.

“What we saw in our Press Ganey surveys is that a significant number of patients mentioned the tablets as contributing to a positive patient experience,” Chris Longhurst, MD, Chief Information Officer and Associate Chief Medical Officer at UC San Diego Health said in a press release about the results. “Additionally, we saw that engagement in medical care, as measured by accessing their medical record, is higher among patients who pick up the tablet for room control purposes. Our analysis suggests that the odds of using the inpatient patient portal among room control users were 1.65 times greater than the odds for patients who didn’t use the tablet for room control. This suggests that the tablet has served as a conduit that nudged more patients to use the patient portal and thus use resources to improve their health."

This research was funded, in part, by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (HIS-1608-35689-IC).


Tai-Seale M, Downing NL, Jones VG, et al. Technology-Enabled Consumer Engagement: Promising Practices At Four Health Care Delivery Organizations. Health Affairs. 2019; doi