Updated: Jun 16
Everyone’s talking about personalizing patient care. But is true personalization being achieved?
Ultimately, personalizing patient care is aimed at improving patient adherence. Better adherence is in turn beneficial both to the healthcare organization – by allowing it to allocate its resources more efficiently, and to the patients themselves – which, of course, goes without saying.
One patient’s missed appointment is another missed opportunity. And the same holds true not only for scheduling appointments with doctors and other clinical staff, but for a wide range of medical services that when handled with better compliance could impact quality healthcare outcomes.
To date, patient care personalization has primarily focused on matching treatment to the individual patient. But little besides case-specific (not patient-specific) messaging has been done to fully personalize interaction with patients so as to increase patient engagement and adherence. Existing messaging platforms have shown some improvement in mobilizing the patient to action, yet no significant results have been accomplished in this area. 
A patient with chronic disease who is not picking up prescriptions or going to the clinic for blood tests may be lacking motivation, or may have become home-bound for various reasons. For those patients, an SMS reminder on their mobile phone would do very little.
Any two patients may have similar adherence problems, but stemming from numerous different reasons. One may not be picking up her prescription due to lack of time. She might have busy life, working 11 hours a day and then rushing back home to be with her family. Another might be an elderly man with multiple prescriptions who forgets to pick up his prescription or take his medication. For both the problem might seem similar from the healthcare system’s perspective, but a more thorough investigation into each case could reveal a completely different story with different conclusions, requiring alternative services.
In a nutshell, to truly personalize healthcare, we need a better understanding of the individual problems each patient faces, and to tailor solutions to address their unique needs and abilities. The only way this can be done on scale is by employing a platform that will first identify those patients with adherence challenges, and then enable open and ongoing dialogue with each patient. Only this sort of two-way dialog will allow organizations to create and offer novel solutions. Continuous feedback will enable fine-tuning to result in healthcare solutions that are perfectly shaped to the patient’s needs.
Written by Eran Even-Tov, Senior Data Scientist at Octopus.Health
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1. Househ M. The role of short messaging service in supporting the delivery of healthcare: An umbrella systematic review. Health Informatics J. 2016;22(2):140‐150. doi:10.1177/1460458214540908