Medical Technology for Patient Engagement

While the Affordable Care Act may promote both patient engagement and patient activation, the larger encompassing idea is that of doctor and patient communication. When a doctor and patient are sufficiently communicating, a patient will begin taking a larger part in caring for his or her own health. In turn, this will result in shared decision making, as well as numerous other benefits for both parties. And with today’s new medical technology, efficiently communicating with patients is easier than ever before.

Eliminate Telecommunication Errors With MedXCom

A new medical application with the purpose of improving doctor and patient communication is the MedXCom app. Launched by Dr. Michael Nusbaum, a New Jersey bariatric surgeon, the MedXCom app records, stores, and transcribes all cell phone conversations between doctors and their patients in an effort to improve telecommunication. With such an app, medical professionals can ensure phone conversations are understood and received correctly by reading and sending a full transcript of the conversation to their patient through the app, and the patient can follow up with any questions through the apps secure text messaging system. Additionally, the transcription protects both the patient in the event of poor advice and the doctor in the event of any misunderstandings that could potentially lead to unwanted lawsuits. To learn more bout the MedXCom app, click here:

Up-To-Date Communication With TreatSpace

In addition to MedXCom, Treatspace is a clinical social software also intended to improve communication between doctors and patients. With its many features, Treatspace is meant to provide both patients and medical professionals with a unified platform in which each can stay up-to-date with one another and in communication. For medical professionals, Treatspace can become a place to build a social profile for ones practice in which a medical professional can easily keep the practice’s information current and up-to-date, while privately communicating with patients through a secure messaging system. For patients, Treatspace is a place to easily find and connect with healthcare providers, while keeping up-to-date with the healthcare provider’s latest updates, as well as privately connecting when necessary. For information on Treatspace, click here:

Honest Communication With TickiT

A third new medical technology now on the market is TickiT. TickiT is a secure tablet and web based data collection platform in which healthcare providers can create and manage custom surveys. Patients often have a difficult time discussing personal issues with medical professionals and will therefore frequently lie about their own health and lifestyle. And yet, such details into a patient’s life is critical in improving doctor to patient communication, as well as quality of outcome. TickiT takes the personal questions a medical professional would ask and turns them into a graphic survey that is both great for youth engagement and for a variety of literacy rates. This allows patients to fill out the survey easily and privately, while simultaneously encouraging honesty. When the survey is finished, the information is automatically transferred to the healthcare provider’s computer with the most vital information flagged and shown at the top. The goal of TickiT is to improve doctor patient communication by ensuring that both the medical professional and patient are already on the same page and ready to go as soon as the medical professional enters the room. To learn more about TickiT, click here:

The Informacio Workstation Increases Health Literacy & Patient Engagement

One last piece of new medical technology that will promote doctor and patient communication is the Informacio Workstation. It helps medical professionals both verbally and visually communicate with their patients. Designed by a global team of scientists, designers and entrepreneurs, the Informacio Workstation was created to easily accommodate users of various technical levels. It provides a physical platform which promotes health literacy and in turn improves doctor and patient communication. To learn how you can help be a part in creating the Informacio Workstation, visit the Informacio Workstation Indiegogo campaign here:

Developing strong doctor and patient communication can benefit both a patient and clinician in multiple ways. And with the Affordable Care Act now set into motion, developing quality doctor and patient communication is essential. Fortunately, we live in an age in which medical technology and medical equipment is developing at miraculous speeds, making establishing quality communication between doctors and patients easier than ever before.

How Healthcare Providers can Engage Patients in Shared Decision Making

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23rd, 2010. The ACA, along with a few other healthcare reforms, has set into play a restoration of the nation’s healthcare system as a whole. Amongst the many positive changes the ACA brought to America’s healthcare system was section 3506— shared decision making.

Shared decision making is meant to bring together patient and healthcare provider in order to make healthcare decisions in which the patient’s values and preferences are taken into account. Using the healthcare provider’s expert knowledge and the patient’s right to be informed, together the healthcare provider and patient can ultimately come to a conclusion that satisfies both parties while optimizing for the best possible outcome. In recent years, studies have shown that a strategy of shared decision making can increase patient satisfaction, and when attempting to qualify for a medical practices’ Hospital Value-based Purchaing (HVBP) incentive payment program, patient satisfaction accounts for 30% of what qualifies a practice.

When you’re used to the way you do things around the office, adjusting to section 3506 of the ACA can become challenging. As previously mentioned, however, making the proper adjustments can make all the difference when qualifying for the HVBP incentive payments. Therefore, we’ve mapped out a few steps any healthcare provider can take in engaging patients in shared decision making.

1. Time. Allotting your patient’s appointment a sufficient amount of time to properly share, discuss, and explain information is essential when it comes to shared decision making. In fact, numerous studies have been made that suggest insufficient amounts of time as the number one barrier to implementing shared decision making.

2. Options. It’s important patients know every option. Provide detailed explanations of each option and justify how this option is most beneficial. Ask patients what they might already know about general choices or these options in particular. And while you should never be afraid to provide your view of the best option, it’s essential you first give a detailed explanation of the possibilities.

shared decision making polar green llc

“006” by Flickr user US Army Africa.

3. Details. Describing the different possible treatments, as well as their benefits and risks, in great detail is critical. Go the extra mile and use decision aids designed to help patients make decisions. Aids such as leaflets, booklets, websites, and the Informacio Workstation will help increase health literacy and improve shared decision making through patient engagement.

4. Support Them. A fundamental aspect of the ACA is to get patients interested and involved in their own health care. Once you’ve explained the different options, as well as their risks and benefits, ask your patient what matters most to them. Help narrow down the different options and then ask if they are ready to make a decision.

Implementing shared decision making is imperative to developing patient satisfaction. Through a strategy of patient engagement and shared expertise there is no doubt that your practice can reap the benefits of shared decision making as many other practices already have. At Polar Green, we’ve developed a prototype that encourages both patient engagement and shared decision making. The Informacio Workstation makes it easy for healthcare providers to relay and communicate crucial information to their patients in an easy-to-understand way. For more information on the Informacio Workstation, and to learn how you can help support a more health literate future, check out our Indiegogo campaign here:


Shifting Doctor-Patient Relationships with Patient Activation and Engagement

Five months into 2014, “Meaningful Use”, and the accompanying focus on patient activation and patient engagement are clearly at the forefront of the minds of medical practice administrators.

Patient activation is a tool to improve patient engagement and therefore, doctor-patient relationships. “Activated” patients have knowledge about health care and are able to and willing to manage their own health care needs. In return, this builds trust with doctors and allows for patients to become more involved in their own health care — patient engagement. Ultimately, it’s a pathway to a world in which patients are health literate and therefore involved in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. And while publicly the effects of such health care reforms have been focused mainly on what it will do for patients, there is a whole other side to the story.

For medical professionals, putting a focus on patient activation and engagement opens up communication. Electronic healthcare records (EHR) allows for the implementation of new patient oriented technology, such as patient portal software. With patient portal software, patients have the ability to schedule appointments and check their health records whenever they’d like. It encourages one’s own medical literacy, while also opening up the possibility for direct message capabilities which may make it easier for patients to connect with a medical practice and ultimately grow collaborative trust and enable patients to become a part of their own health care.

At the core of patient activation and patient engagement is a transition from a fee-for-service health care model to one that is value-based.  A value-based health care system ensures focus is on visit quality and outcome. To encourage that adoption of value based practices and standards, the Center for Medicare Services has prescribed a formula that apportions a percentage of the reimbursement to be determined by qualitative assessment of the health care experience.

A portion of this standardized qualitative assessment is a survey instrument that asks patients specific questions regarding their visit and services or information that was provided to them.  Health care practices and hospitals choosing to ignore the mandate to inform patients about their conditions and treatment are essentially opting out of a significant percentage of the reimbursement pie that is available to them. The intent is that a value-based health care system, matched with health literate patients, will ultimately lead to fewer low-intensity patient visits due to higher quality results. In return this leads to two things: The first is a re-evaluation of the cost of a medical professional’s time, and the second is happy patients who are more likely to stick with and recommend their medical professional to their friends. Together this is a recipe for profit.

Now, let’s remember why medical professionals get into this industry to begin with. Being a doctor is about helping others. It’s a profession that is both taxing and incredibly fulfilling. Or at least it should be. When working in a health care system in which a patient’s health rests solely in a doctor’s hands, it’s no wonder that a 2012 national study from Archives of Internal Medicine showed that almost 50% of all medical professionals are showing symptoms of burnout which could cause very serious safety concerns for patients.

The efforts around “Meaningful Use” of EHR systems, and the focus on patient engagement is meant to make the health care system a lifelong collaboration between medical provider and patient. Through patient engagement and the implementation of new medical technology, patient’s will become active and informed participants in their own lives, and, with the help of a medical professional, live life to their healthiest potential. And when two people working towards a common good see results, it becomes much more satisfying and fulfilling for both individuals.

Patient engagement will undoubtedly perform a key role in the future of doctor patient relationships. And in order for patients to become engaged, it’s first necessary that they are health literate. At Polar Green, we’ve designed a prototype that will both increase health literacy and encourage patient-doctor communication, thereby enabling patient “activation” and establishing the seeds for true patient engagement. The Informacio Workstation incorporates clinical technology with modern design principles to create an unparalleled medical experience that will leave doctors and patients feeling like they’re in it together. To learn more about the Informacio Workstation, visit our Indiegogo campaign here:

Preparing For Your Surgery

healthcare literacy

With today’s health technology, modern surgery is safer now than ever before. And yet, when it comes to going under, it’s understandable why one might feel anxious and worried. Surgery can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. As a company invested in simplifying the medical process, we here at Polar Green have put together a list of easy steps on how to prepare for your surgery and ensure for the best possible outcome.


Preparing for Surgery

1. Options. Before going in for a surgical procedure, it’s necessary to understand your options. In many cases, surgery is not the only option. If you do need surgery, however, it’s important to know if it is a priority, if it can wait until a more convenient time, as well as whether or not there are various surgical options to choose from.

2. Surgical Team. When going for a surgery, you’ll want to know you’re in good hands. Work with your primary doctor to choose your best option in terms of hospitals and surgeons. Often the best hospitals are those that have more experience in your specific surgery.

3. Instructions. As soon as you decide that you’ll be having a surgery, you’ll want to ask your doctor how to prepare. Being well rested and healthy is ideal for surgeries and an optimum recovery time. For those of you that smoke, stopping smoking at least two weeks before your surgery is a good idea.

4. Be Informed. It’s necessary to know that no matter the surgery, complications are possible. And while keeping a positive attitude and following pre-surgery instructions will help in obtaining the best possible outcome, it’s important for you to speak with your doctor and learn about any common or possible complications. The best patients are informed patients.

5. Have Someone. Ask a friend, family member, or loved one to be there for you for when you wake up. When waking up after surgery, you’ll most likely be experiencing grogginess and a little pain. Planning for a familiar face to be there to explain where you are and what is happening will help.

6. After the Surgery. Make sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have and to simplify any answers you may not understand. After a surgery it’s important to fully understand what you’ll need to do to have the best recovery possible. It’s reasons like this which is why we’ve created the Informacio Workstation.


With all the new medical technology and healthcare IT in the world today, safe surgeries and recoveries are more common now than ever before. No matter the surgery, however, it’s still just as important to make the necessary pre-surgery preparations to ensure all goes smoothly. And when it comes to understanding your surgery and what you’ll need to do to recover, we here at Polar Green have got you covered. With a passion for improving medical literacy, we’ve developed a prototype to help close the gap within the doctor patient relationship. To learn more and help support our mission to improve medical literacy, visit our Indiegogo campaign here:


Our Stories: Brian K. Ellison’s History of Health Design

While although I am now a Furniture Designer, I always also add that I am an Architect-by-education.

I met Vince Paglione, the founder of Polar Green, in 1985. He was a head administrator at UIC’s School of Architecture, I was a twenty-something that was refused re-admission because of my prior failed history there. In a nutshell, his advice to me back then was to go to a junior college, get my sh– together, and come back and see him in a couple of years. I took his advice and kept in touch with him during that process. Two years later, I was admitted into UIC’s Architecture program. From that time up until now, Vince Paglione not only remained a mentor, he became a friend.

My “career path” primarily involved real-estate development in Chicago. Throughout that period, I had the opportunity to work with many wonderful people, and was involved in significant development projects in major areas this city. It wasn’t my passion though. I liked “makin’ stuff with wood”.

My woodworking interests began in childhood and continued into high school. I had Wood Shop classes all four years, and it never occurred to me that I would one day be doing this for a living. After college, I designed my first piece, a CD holder. Through a hired manufacturer, I made and sold close to 1000 units in 1994-95. In 1995 I was offered (and accepted) a job, abandoning the “entrepreneur thing”.

While continuing my career in real-estate development, I was also continuing to design and “make stuff with wood”. I mainly did tables, beds and storage units. I eventually started experimenting with lighting. I would do this part time after work. They were mostly items for my home, and eventually started becoming items for clients that wanted something made. I really grew to enjoy it, so much so that I resigned from my job in 2006 and moved to Europe for two years to fully commit and focus on design, revisiting the whole “entrepreneur thing”. It was an incredible experience.

Moving back to Chicago in 2008, I continued to design and fabricate custom pieces for clients and also develop a product line of items under my company bke designs. While actually having to take a full time job again while doing this, I also became successful in providing fabrication services in the restaurant industry, and production services for clients in need of multiple run products.

In December of 2012, I ran into Vince at an AIA holiday event. He told me about his idea for Informacio. I was aware of his past health victories, and assured him that I was on board to help him achieve victory with this project as well. Since that time, we have had the development of many ideas and iterations of this product and I am honored to be part of this team.

Building A Doctor Patient Relationship

patient doctor relationship health literacy polar green

With all the new medical technology and resources for information available today, it’s important you’re being informed by a source you can trust. In today’s day and age, there is little relationship more important in terms of your everyday health than that between you and your doctor. And being a company passionate about the fluidity of relaying medical information, we at Polar Green understand that. That’s why we’ve created a short list on how to build a strong doctor patient relationship.

Building A Doctor Patient Relationship

 1. Be Honest. The best relationships are built on trust. With today’s health technology, many medical professionals can use physical exams to gather information about their patients, but those exams only take them so far. Telling your doctor the truth about your diet, medication, sexual histories, alcohol consumption, etc. is the best way to build a relationship and ultimately receive top care.

2. Participate. A doctor patient relationship is not a one-way street. Before coming to the doctor, make sure you know and are prepared to relay your medical history. And when it comes to a diagnosis, be sure to ask questions and inform your doctor of any barriers that may prevent you from fulfilling their requests.

 3. Listen. Your doctor’s advice is designed to improve your health. And while it’s not always easy to change an old habit or current lifestyle, actively listening to your doctor, as well as taking the necessary actions, will help improve your health and uncover any underlying issues. And remember, if you’re receiving conflicting advice from friends, family, or a different source, don’t forget that your doctor knows your medical history and has the medical know-how to make the correct analysis.

4. Be Polite. While you may feel grumpy because you’re sick, being polite can go a long way. When a patient is polite, the doctor can feel comfortable around the patient and in return the patient around the doctor. Politeness is a recipe for a comfortable and productive visit.

With all the different resources for information out there, trying to take care of your health can become a difficult and confusing task. Forming a strong doctor patient relationship with your medical professional will only make things easier. At Polar Green, patients are our passion. As a health technology company, we’re here to help close the gap between medical professionals and their patients. For more information on the strides we’re taking, check out our IndieGogo campaign, which is now live!