The idea of patient engagement is hardly new. But, if you were to define patient engagement in your own practice, what would you discover? Is it simply a buzz phrase? (Yeah; that’s a real thing). Or, is there more depth to your definition? According to this HIMSS study, “Even without universal agreement on ‘one’ definition of patient engagement, two truths are emerging: a patient’s greater engagement in healthcare contributes to improved health outcomes, and information technologies can support engagement.” Regardless of the definition, one thing most experts can agree on is the importance of technology with respect to patient engagement. So, how can rehab therapists capitalize on technology trends—specifically, wearables—to positively influence patient engagement? Great question.

Regulatory Roundup: 6 Challenges Confronting Rehab Therapists in 2018 - Regular BannerRegulatory Roundup: 6 Challenges Confronting Rehab Therapists in 2018 - Small Banner

Use It or Lose It

In March 2015, Harris Poll conducted a study among more than 2,000 US adults to explore the connection between technology and patient engagement. It found that not only were wearables a factor in patient engagement, but also:

  1. “More than one third (37%) of people who use a wearable device/fitness tracker wear it every day.”
  2. “78% of those using wearable devices/fitness trackers more than once a month feel it useful for their doctors to have access to that information.”

The data from this study show that adults across the US are taking advantage of, and investing in, wearable technology. And when your patients are already so invested in their own health that they track their daily habits, they’re likely to track the changes associated with the treatment you—as a healthcare expert—prescribe. That’s especially true if you provide movement goals that patients can easily track with most wearable devices. If you don’t use this data, you’re missing out on an opportunity to engage your patients on a more personal level.

Try, Try, and “Trifecta” Again

Wearable technology is unique; it creates a personal connection to the technology individuals use to monitor and improve their well being. Leveraging this data is super valuable for the following reasons (as adapted from this Huffington Post article):

  1. wearable technology is inherently connected to your patients and their goals;
  2. the technology fosters a sense of community; and
  3. it taps into gamification.

The same article goes on to explain, “By harnessing this trifecta, healthcare leaders have new ways to build engagement and create accurate, far-reaching views of both personal and population health.”

Fill in the Gaps

Due to meaningful use and the increase in EMR and EHR adoption, patient portals are now a standard in patient engagement. But typically, the information exchanged in such portals is very siloed. Patients often engage with these portals simply to obtain or provide information. But, it’s not the best engagement tool. Plus, because it doesn’t include data from other sources, it can’t accurately paint a larger picture of each patient’s overall health. For patients to truly be engaged, they must be active participants in their own care—whether that’s in your practice or at home. Wearables afford providers the opportunity to track patient wellness between visits. And for the patients that use wearables, the devices provide an easy and interactive tool that fills in the gaps between appointments—making it that much easier for those patients to make consistent progress toward their health goals.

Keep it Simple

Beyond containing siloed information, patient portals—even the good ones—are clunky at best. That means patients aren’t likely to become emotionally invested in interacting with you via this medium. The more work it takes for the patient, the less likely he or she will invest in the interaction. Connecting with your patients via wearables removes a lot of barriers to tracking information. Data collection requires little to no input from the patient. The key is to then capture this information and translate it into the patient’s medical record. “While wearable devices vary in sophistication from glorified pedometers to streamlined, data-driven tools for developing the quantified self, they require relatively little input from the user in order to fulfill their promises,” explains this HealthIT Analytics article.


Using wearables to improve patient engagement might not be quite mainstream—yet. But, thanks to wearables, patients are more engaged with their own care, barriers to data collection have been removed, and providers can use the data to bridge the gaps between visits. Does your practice use wearables to boost patient engagement and drive better outcomes? What have been the benefits and drawbacks of using this technology?

  • Future-Proofing Your Practice: Diversifying Revenue Streams Image

    downloadJan 7, 2016

    Future-Proofing Your Practice: Diversifying Revenue Streams

    What does it take to future-proof your practice? In this guide, we’ll talk about how you can incorporate health and wellness services to diversify your practice’s revenue streams and boost your bottom line. Ready to prepare your practice for the age of payment reform? Enter your email address below to download Future-Proofing Your Practice, Volume 3.

  • Why PTs Must Embrace Change—and How They Can Do It Image

    articleMay 12, 2017 | 11 min. read

    Why PTs Must Embrace Change—and How They Can Do It

    As the chief clinical officer and lead physical therapist for a digital healthcare company, I have the privilege of regularly speaking to my fellow PTs regarding the trends in physical therapy and overarching healthcare changes that impact our profession most. While it’s always a pleasure to talk shop with my peers, I will attest that many of these conversations leave me a bit concerned. As the healthcare industry reshapes its infrastructure to pave the way for more …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy Image

    downloadJul 14, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy

    To see results from our most recent industry survey, check out the 2019 State of Rehab Therapy Report. Health care is not a static industry. It’s always changing, evolving, and progressing. No healthcare provider is immune to the effects of that change, but some—including physical, occupational, and speech therapists—have felt a greater impact than others. In an effort to assess the scope of that impact—and thus, better anticipate the future needs of the rehab therapy community—WebPT conducted …

  • articleJul 5, 2012 | 3 min. read

    Health 2.0 Monitoring Devices, Part II: Tools for a Healthy Lifestyle or an Obsession?

    We all want to lead a healthy lifestyle but can too much technology be problematic? This past Tuesday, Erica and I covered 12 personal health monitoring devices for the health 2.0 lifestyle . In today’s post, let’s talk about real user experience: the good, the bad, and the gimmicky. In an article posted on AllThingsD.com , Andy Smith, CEO of IAC-owned DailyBurn , told reporter Lauren Goode that today’s fitness tracking devices border on gimmicks: “I feel …

  • The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017 Image

    webinarJun 5, 2017

    The State of Rehab Therapy in 2017

    WebPT recently conducted an industry survey of thousands of rehab therapy professionals across a wide variety of settings, specialties, and geographic regions. Our goal: To capture an accurate snapshot of the demographics, trends, frustrations, and motivations that shape our businesses, our future outlook, and our potential for success in this environment of change. In our July webinar, WebPT president and co-founder Dr. Heidi Jannenga, PT, DPT, ATC/L, and WebPT CEO Nancy Ham will share and analyze the …

  • Common Questions from our Cloudy with a Chance of Reform Webinar Image

    articleFeb 13, 2017 | 13 min. read

    Common Questions from our Cloudy with a Chance of Reform Webinar

    In our first webinar of 2017 , WebPT’s co-founder and president, Heidi Jannenga, teamed up with CEO Nancy Ham to discuss the current and future healthcare trends that will impact PTs, OTs, and SLPs. (Missed it? No worries; you can view the complete recording here .) As always, we received quite a few questions during the presentation—way more than we could address live. So, we’ve put them all here, in one handy Q&A doc. Scroll through and …

  • articleJul 24, 2012 | 4 min. read

    Patient Portals Improve Provider-Patient Relationship

    As an amazing health care provider, of course you want the best relationship with every one of your patients. But as a solid business owner, you also want to maximize your profits and reduce your overhead. Often these goals conflict. The good news is they don’t have to. Have your cake and eat it, too. Or in this case, cultivate an excellent provider-patient relationship and streamline your practice’s processes—with the help of a patient portal. What is …

  • Advancements in PT Tech/Emerging Trends Image

    articleJul 8, 2017 | 6 min. read

    Advancements in PT Tech/Emerging Trends

    From vibrating posture sensors , gait-correcting insoles , and pressure-sensing socks to popular movement tracking devices like Fitbit , video game systems designed to make therapy more fun, and helmet sensors that alert athletes and medical professionals of potential concussion-causing hits, there have been a number of exciting advancements and trends in PT technology. These innovations offer new opportunities for improved diagnosis, treatment, and patient engagement. iTherapy: There’s an App for That Smartphone and iPad apps for …

  • More Than a Number: Personalizing Patient Care in Your Growing Therapy Practice Image

    articleMar 28, 2018 | 4 min. read

    More Than a Number: Personalizing Patient Care in Your Growing Therapy Practice

    Many small private practices achieve success because of the stellar one-on-one care they provide—and amazing patient experiences they create. After all, what better way to foster patient loyalty and garner word-of-mouth referrals to ultimately boost revenue as well as your reputation? Unfortunately, though, that level of attention can be difficult to maintain as your practice grows—and patients can end up falling through the proverbial cracks as providers’ calendars become increasingly jam-packed. That is, of course, unless you …

Achieve greatness in practice with the ultimate EMR for PTs, OTs, and SLPs.