Approximately 18 percent of all chronic patients do not trust the medical institution that provides instructions for their care.
This was one finding of a survey by Well-Beat, an Israeli startup whose patient-engagement platform combines machine learning with behavioral science to personalize interactions between patients and healthcare organizations for better outcomes.
The reasons for this lack of confidence, Well-Beat found, can include a sweeping lack of trust in the entire medical system or distrust of a specific person on the medical team. If it’s the latter, simply assigning a different professional to give the patient instructions can lead to a dramatic change in willingness to act on them.
Data for the survey was collected over four years of monitoring the preferences of chronic patients in Israel and abroad, directly and indirectly. Study subjects were people with heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension or other conditions.
Some of the other findings were eye-opening as well.
Well-Beat found that approximately 23% of chronic patients feel a level of anxiety that makes it difficult for them to function and negatively affects their condition as well as their ability to understand the information healthcare workers give them. Anxiety also affects the patients’ willingness to act on recommendations.
“When anxiety is very high, patients sometimes reach a state of ignoring recommendations, as sometimes happens in cases of avoiding potentially lifesaving tests such as mammography, colonoscopy, and more,” Well-Beat reported.
“Anxiety level is a dynamic and changing phenomenon, and therefore the therapist should be aware of the anxiety level when interacting with the patient.”
Well-Beat further discovered that 39% of chronic patients want the doctor to make decisions for them and give them instructions without asking them for their personal opinion.
Another 36% want to express their opinion but prefer for the clinician to decide how they should act, while 24% want to consult with the clinician but decide on their own. Only 1% want to decide on their own without consultation.
Behavioral researcher Karen Aharon, Well-Beat’s cofounder and chief scientific officer, said adapting communication styles for each patient – for example, presenting a certain treatment as a guideline or recommendation — “is of critical importance for the degree of cooperation and therefore for the success of the treatment itself.”
Well-Beat’s SaaS (software as a service) is built to tailor patient engagement. In a trial at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, Well-Beat’s solution increased the attendance of patients in a cardiac rehabilitation program by 300%. In two projects among elderly populations in the United States, Well-Beat’s recommendations helped double response to a social activity that involves leaving the room.