Integrated Health Management: The Patient-Centred Future of Demand Management
Mark A. Levine
Helen A. Birnbaum
Patients now have a more active role in medical decisions than ever before. Their growing participation has influenced the health industry enormously, and is undoubtedly an irreversible trend. With access to abundant health information, patients are more informed about disease, diagnosis, and treatment options. Demand management supports patients by encouraging and enabling appropriate use of this information by using decision and self-management support. Demand management call centres also integrate information from other sources, and measure and report the outcomes of care. An effective demand management programme enhances a physician's practice by helping patients make use of relevant information and accomplish the directives for care. Physicians also benefit from increasingly efficient communication technologies that allow electronic transfer of `real-time' patient care data. Thus, the demand management programme becomes an essential liaison between patient and physician rather than an unwanted interloper. Moreover, involving physicians in the development, implementation, and management of the demand management programme will promote acceptance and cooperation. Transcending the boundaries of their original design, demand management programmes have expanded their utility by providing non-clinical customer services and by reaching out to individuals who are most likely to benefit from support. Through inbound and outbound telephonic exchange, the demand management programme has become an excellent repository for collecting and consolidating patient-specific data that can be used to monitor health status, influence health behaviours and track outcomes. Demand management may soon become the fundamental backbone of integrated health management's web of coordinated data streaming from multiple sources, delivering information where and when it will be used most effectively, and ensuring the programme's continuing focus on the patient.
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