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6 tips for integrating a connected device into a digital health program

4 min read

When it comes to managing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, digital health programs need swift, regular updates about how patients are faring. Real-time insights into biomarkers such as weight and heart rate are essential for making fast, potentially life-saving care decisions, especially for seniors or others with chronic health issues.

Connected in-home health devices enable this vision to become a reality. This data allows care teams to adjust care plans, prescribe medications or identify early intervention strategies.

Why are health programs integrating connected devices?

Before sharing some tips about connected devices, it is interesting to understand why they are particularly useful in digital health programs. Without connected devices, the performance of digital health programs strongly and exclusively rely on the patient. Some behaviors that have been noticed in patients, and which could impact care, include: making an error in reporting the last blood-pressure reading, missing a measurement, or not wanting to report a measurement. In addition, having to think about measurements and manually report them on a specific interface can be painful for patients. Either patients are deeply annoyed by the process and feel less engaged in the whole program, or they abandon the full treatment. By automatically synchronizing data and providing trends and a history of objective data, connected devices provide an answer to many of these issues.

As Dr. Emil Baccash explained in a recent New York Times article, “[It is] taught in medical school that taking a medical history gives you 90 percent of the information you need, with the 10 percent coming from the physical exam.”

If connected devices are well chosen, they can help to reduce friction in the user experience. With less friction, patients are more engaged and become the main actors in their own care, which is key to achieving better health outcomes. Some studies have already proven that connected devices are changing the way chronic care is managed. More recent evidence from the American Medical Association confirms that providers are looking for digital health tools, including connected devices, to treat chronic illness.

But the goal of better healthcare outcomes using connected devices is only achievable if the devices are efficient. Here a few tips to help ensure that connected devices will add the maximum value to your program.

The importance of a well-chosen device

The right connected health devices can play a key role in this vision. Better health outcomes are only achieved if connected devices are efficient and engaging. This involves numerous factors:

Ease of use. Any friction point along the way – such as installation requirements, complex instructions, or even the need for frequent battery changes will drive down program adoption rates. Patients need devices that are truly plug and play. With intuitive devices, patients are more engaged and become the main actors in their care. 

Cellular enabled. For too long, the health device industry relied on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to gather data from in-home devices, but these were cumbersome for patients to set up, and it limited who could participate (i.e., patients in rural areas or those without cell phones.) The answer to expanding access to patient data at home is using cellular devices that work right out of the box, regardless of whether the patient has cell service at home. This bridges the health equity gap by providing access to all patients, regardless of their tech-savviness or Wi-Fi/bluetooth connectivity limitations.

With the vision of making the lives of patients and care teams easier in combination with collaborating with hundreds of digital health partners and clinicians, Withings Health Solutions developed Body Pro 2. This advanced cellular smart scale transforms chronic condition management by offering personalized motivational messages, a vibrant LCD color screen, and engaging health trend data to show progress. 

Designed around positive health changes. Most in-home devices are a bit depressing to look at and do little to inspire patients. A sleek look and feel can make a profound difference on the patient experience and motivation. Designing in habit-forming features such as daily weather forecasts and motivational messages can help devices to effortlessly become part of patients’ everyday lives. 

Instant feedback. Patients are more engaged if they are able to see the results of their efforts. Being able to see decreased blood pressure or a lower weight after months of struggle is enough to keep patients motivated and confident in the program. A study published in the review Obesity shows that frequent weigh-ins with electronic graphic feedback are effective in preventing weight gain. Instant, understandable, color-coded feedback makes patients feel responsible for and more active in their care.

Accuracy. Devices should be highly accurate to provide precise data that will lead to the most efficient treatments. When considering a medical-grade device, look for agency approvals or markings indicating its accuracy.

Seamless integration. Devices should have the option to be easily integrated into a program’s existing workflow and to automate data collection, reducing the operational burden and associated costs. 

Integrate our suite of API solutions and retrieve data seamlessly, bridging the gap between our devices and your existing systems.

  • Easily integrate our drop shipment API in a matter of weeks – alternatively, if API development is not an option, use our portal and be up and running in just a few hours 
  • Eliminate the cost and headache of maintaining a third party fulfillment center or manually ordering devices with our drop shipment capabilities 
  • Avoid inventory risk and ensure patients get their devices shipped and delivered in a matter of days when dropshipping with Withings

How do health systems and patients benefit from this model?

Making better health part of daily life is possible with connected devices. These enable health systems to offer a higher level of care while fostering positive life changes in their patients. Through instant access to accurate patient data, care teams can better manage patients’ chronic conditions while alleviating extra work for their staff. With elegant, easy-to-use devices designed around patients’ daily lives, health systems can maximize program participation, improve health equity, and ultimately enhance outcomes for all. 

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