As technology shapes our lives, prioritizing human-centered care is essential. Health and wellness technology solutions that offer personalized experiences give patients greater autonomy over their care and invite them to engage more actively with their health.According to Mara Özütok, Psychologist and Health Concept Designer at Significo, prioritizing human-centered care means “being aware of the responsibility you have for the people who might end up using your product, that those are real people with real problems and struggles.”Instead of making false promises about “DIY” healthcare or adding extra steps to healthcare delivery, prioritizing human-centered care means making that care more accessible and personalized to individual users. This not only improves quality of care and patient health, but also increases engagement and drives organizational success.

Read on to learn more about how health and wellness technology solutions can use personalization to offer human-centered care that benefits individuals and organizations alike.

Enhancing Member and Employee Engagement

Every member or employee brings something unique to the table in terms of skills, knowledge, interests, and life experience. Human-centered care that takes that uniqueness into account empowers and motivates people to perform at their best.

"People crave recognition and acceptance of their unique selves,” Significo CEO Rick McCartney says. “So if you want people to engage with their work, it’s essential that they feel like they’re being treated like humans and that they matter — that the quality of their work, what they do, and whether or not they’re there matters.”

By offering personalized tools and resources that speak to employees' individual interests and needs, we can enhance employee engagement. And, as studies have shown, increased engagement leads to greater performance and well-being, both individually and on an organizational level.

Facilitating Care with Digital Technologies

With the right amount of personalization, health and wellness technology solutions can be effective tools for facilitating human-centered care. Some examples of this include:

  • Health Apps: A general platform that offers personalized health recommendations based on each user’s profile and activity can spark discussions among users about the similarities and differences in their respective health journeys.
  • Wearables: Depending on the user’s health goals, wearables can be useful for tracking progress and measuring specific outcomes.
  • Telemedicine: While telemedicine has certain limitations, it also makes healthcare more accessible, timely, and affordable for many people.

According to McCartney, when designing apps or other technological tools with human-centered care in mind, the key is to “figure out the one main primary action in the app and how that one main action will drive value.” Instead of trying to offer many different functionalities, focus on one well-performing functionality that gives users a meaningful experience as they engage with their health.

Driving Organizational Success

Prioritizing human-centered care benefits everyone — not just on an individual level, but also entire workplaces, health insurance companies, and health benefits organizations.

According to Harvard Business Review, investing in quality wellness programs has been repeatedly shown to lower healthcare costs and employee turnover, improve member and employee satisfaction, and yield an ROI of as much as 6-to-1.

However, there is still room for improvement. “We need to get to a place where our system incentives cutting costs,” McCartney says. “Technology makes things cheaper, and technology gets cheaper over time. So that should, in theory, fix some of our healthcare spending problems and over time really drive down costs.”

Currently, hospital systems and insurance companies are incentivized instead to increase costs every year, placing the burden on healthcare recipients to make up the difference. But a system that truly prioritizes human-centered care, McCartney argues, is one that “makes it worthwhile to deliver high-quality care at a reasonable cost.”

Anticipating Future Developments

As health and wellness technology solutions continue to advance, McCartney anticipates continued friction between human-centered and system-centered healthcare.Technology has great potential to give individuals more access to and control over information about their own care, but it will require new legislation to secure that access and facilitate easier information sharing between healthcare providers.In terms of handling big data, McCartney points to Google and Apple as examples the healthcare industry can learn from. People trust these entities with their financial information, and for good reason — they have a strong history of providing secure encryption, notifying users of data breaches, and respecting users’ privacy.Ultimately, human-centered care should move beyond the data itself and toward using that data to connect with people and help them understand their own health and needs better.