The rapid growth of electronic communication and expanding access to the Internet have empowered providers and consumers of healthcare information. The variety of sources has changed the relationship between a doctor and a patient. Healthcare organizations use a variety of patient engagement tools that a big step forward in technological support for health literacy (Price-Haywood et al., 2017). Many healthcare organizations invest money in developing interactive websites that offer physician search, online brochures, symptom checkers, patient portals, and many other tools. This paper aims to analyze patient engagement tools and public health information that help to improve healthcare and gather data used to determine the need for mass inoculation.
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The integration of electronic communication technologies and the developing tendency of patient empowerment have transformed the healthcare system. Virtual tools, such as patient social networks, health coaches, provider-hosted online communities, are created to support patients in a constant self-assessment and self-management process. Patient portals and patient-generated data are two main engagement and connectivity tools that help to deliver healthcare today. Many healthcare organizations have developed secure portals that allow access to patients’ health records, including laboratory results. A patient portal is an important engagement tool that gives patients more possibilities, influences their decision making, and increases personalized healthcare (Price-Haywood et al., 2017). For example, Flu Tool is a supportive application for patients with influenza, integrated into a patient portal. It allows patients to make aware decisions about their illness and the required care.
Patient-generated health data (PGHD) is another useful engagement tool that empowers the patient and helps to improve disease management. PGHD can improve decision making by providing important information that is normally not captured during a routine visit to a doctor.
It includes symptoms, health history, biometric data, and other valuable information that is gathered from patients to make correct decisions about treatment (Figueiredo & Chen, 2020). These data can be also captured from mobile devices, activity trackers, and other physical property detectors. This tool does not only add more information to an electronic health record (EHR), but it is fully integrated into the healthcare program (Cutrona et al., 2018). This changes the way doctors interact with their patients, helps clinicians design new treatment plans, and makes the patient more involved in healthcare.
Databases with public health information, including patient-generated health data and patient portals, are accessible to authorities. It means that they can be used to determine the need for mass inoculation, for example, in case of a new strain of influenza. Many other varieties of public health data may be collected to determine the need for vaccination, including school and work absences and the statistics gathered by healthcare providers in different clinics (Politi et al., 2017). Medication and healthcare purchases related to influenza are also an important source. The surveillance systems may also include monitoring of social media and community reporting networks. Viral surveillance can be used to monitor the outbreak and the need for particular actions (Politi et al., 2017). First of all, demographic data should be collected to define which type of immunization should be provided. Socio-economic status, age, gender, education, and previous vaccine experiences also affect the type of influenza vaccination. The data on syndromes can be received from healthcare institutions that provide disease case reports. The National Center for Public Health Information processes these data into electronic record systems to determine the need for a particular inoculation type.
Crowd-sourced social media data can be also used, but this approach has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, social networks can be a source of authoritative public information. They increase crisis alerts and encourage public feedback. Media can serve as a warning system for identifying the upcoming outbreak and an additional source to track the course of the disease (Politi et al., 2017). On the other hand, information collected from social media is often inaccurate and needs careful consideration and confirmation. Moreover, the part of the population, such as elderly or socially disadvantaged people do not have social networks. In this case, other patient engagement channels must be necessary. In comparison with patient portals, information on social media and the response to it can be wrong. Besides, numerous channels and controversial information can confuse the public who use social media.
To determine the success of the implemented mass inoculation program, community coverage should be assessed. The combination of administrative and survey data can define vaccination coverage. It is important to use the same information that indicated the need for this program. By comparing the same information for the implementation period, it will be clear if the number of cases has been decreased. A follow-up investigation can determine if the population’s health status has improved or not (Politi et al., 2017). This can be done through case-based surveillance before and after vaccination. The success mass vaccination program can be also evaluated through the measuring of adverse effects after the immunization. Besides this, the information about the disease outbreak and mass vaccination should be shared at the regional, national, and international levels. This is an important side of data exchange in the healthcare system.
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A web-based strategy can significantly increase patient education and engagement in the healthcare process. With the help of the Internet and electronic communication, health information can be easily shared and compared with other regions and countries. Data can be disseminated through various healthcare portals and other credible online channels which are easily accessible and have wide coverage. With the help of patient engagement tools, healthcare providers can easily communicate with the population, as well as analyze and spread data between all health stakeholders. This allows the communication of important information between doctors, communities, and public health agents.
Cutrona, S. L., Golden, J. G., Goff, S. L., Ogarek, J., Barton, B., Fisher, L., & Mazor, K. M. (2018). Improving rates of outpatient influenza vaccination through EHR portal messages and interactive automated calls: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 33(5), 659-667.
Figueiredo, M. C., & Chen, Y. (2020). Patient-generated health data: Dimensions, challenges, and open questions. Foundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction, 13(3), 165-297.
Politi, M. C., Jones, K. M., & Philpott, S. E. (2017). The role of patient engagement in addressing parents’ perceptions about immunizations. Jama, 318(3), 237-238.
Price-Haywood, E. G., Harden-Barrios, J., Ulep, R., & Luo, Q. (2017). eHealth literacy: Patient engagement in identifying strategies to encourage use of patient portals among older adults. Population Health Management, 20(6), 486-494.