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Relationships are established, built and strengthened over time. But, while those living with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) may have multiple allies, their ties with you can be unique. Perhaps you’ve seen how a strong relationship with a patient can make a difference in treatment.1

Health outcomes are often clinical measures. However, when it comes to value-based metrics like patient satisfaction, emotional factors—like trust and loyalty in the doctor-patient relationship—may play an important role.2

Innovation in health care isn't new. Telehealth has been around for decades.3 Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth use has grown dramatically. As Meg Barron, American Medical Association vice president of digital innovation, explained in September 2020, "More physicians than ever have recognized digital health tools as an advantage for driving efficiency and safety in health care."4 Technology may offer additional ways for you to connect with your patients, too.

Technology Use Will Keep Growing


There is no doubt, when you look at the trends,

that technology will continue to evolve. And,

with it, new ways to connect with patients.

There is no doubt, when you look at the trends, that technology will continue to evolve. And, with it, new ways to connect with patients.

Connecting Like Never Before

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-person office visits were restricted, telemedicine quickly emerged as a safer way to deliver non-emergency care. Today it may be utilized more than ever. And many patients expect to use telehealth care after the pandemic.9 A look at the benefits of telemedicine may explain why.

For the patient, telemedicine may offer increased convenience, more access to specialists and fewer exposures to pathogens. Patients could also see a reduced need for travel and childcare. Physicians could see increased flexibility,10 fewer no-shows11 and a reduction in the cost of delivery.10

But telemedicine’s logistical advantages barely scratch the surface of its benefits.

Dr Alvin Wells, Director of the Aurora Rheumatology and Immunotherapy Center, sees the deeper value of connecting to patients via telemedicine.

“Going forward, the benefits of telemedicine for patients

in terms of preserving access and continuity of care are

undeniable.” —American College of Rheumatology 12

“Going forward, the benefits of telemedicine for patients in terms of preserving access and continuity of care are undeniable.” —American College of Rheumatology 12

The American College of Rheumatology notes that telemedicine should not replace face-to-face assessments at medically appropriate intervals.12

Telemedicine Can Offer Fresh Ways to Connect With Patients

Connectivity enabled by technology may provide an opportunity to maintain strong relationships between patients living with OA and RA and their doctors. As Dr Wells puts it, telemedicine helps patients feel supported. “They can easily connect with their health-care providers. They don’t feel like they’re out there by themselves.”

Debbie, a patient living with OA, felt positive after her first telemedicine visit.

By the Numbers According to a February 2021 Telemedicine Market Analysis Report, the global telemedicine market is expected to be worth $298.9 billion by 2028.13

Patients may see video visits as the sum total of telemedicine. In reality, online appointments represent just one element in the larger scheme of connecting with your patients living with OA and RA. So, what about technology’s role in those relationships? Let’s take a look.

If keeping up on health-care technology feels tricky, it may help to keep an eye on the bigger picture. According to Dr Wells, there appears to be a link between physician-patient rapport and improved outcomes.

“Patients are more focused—and more onboard with treatment plans. In my experience, that extra buy-in can lead to more compliance,”

explains Dr Wells. In these cases, technology may help to minimize distractions and clear a path toward better communication.

Some patients may disclose more, too, Dr Wells says. That may be important, because communication plays the most significant role in reaching a diagnostic conclusion.16 On the flip side, active listening by you can help build trust with your patients17 living with OA and RA. And patients who trust their physicians tend to report fewer symptoms and higher satisfaction rates.18

Today’s technological tools that physicians use to connect can vary widely. For example, artificial intelligence (AI) encompasses a collection of technologies that use things like algorithms and machine-learning to process health-care data. According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society,


“More than ever, it’s playing a key role in clinical decision support, as it delivers data to providers to aid in diagnosing, treatment-planning and population health management.”19

Keep an Eye on the Latest Advances in Technology

The pace of technology innovation may feel overwhelming. Here, we focus on some advanced technology highlights. For more information on technology advancements, see the links at the end of this section.

Disclaimer: Horizon does not endorse or recommend any products mentioned and does not vouch for the accuracy of any of the statements or the accompanying links.

The speed of health-care innovation is unlikely to slow. For some, it may be easy to write off technology as being inherently impersonal. But, in some cases, says Dr Wells, it may be helpful in building deeper, more connected relationships with patients living with OA and RA. And, possibly, better outcomes.

The following websites include additional information on technology advances in health care.

Make sure that your patients have all of the resources they need before, during and after their next telemedicine visit.



1. Kelley JM, Kraft-Todd G, Schapira L, Kossowsky J, Riess H. The influence of the patient-clinician relationship on healthcare outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(4):e94207. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094207 2. Chipidza FE, Wallwork RS, Stern TA. Impact of the doctor-patient relationship. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2015;17(5):10.4088/PCC.15f01840. doi:10.4088/PCC.15f01840 3. Nesbitt TS. The evolution of telehealth: where have we been and where are we going? National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine. Accessed April 15, 2021., State% 20Hospital%20for%20psychiatric%20consultations 4. Strazewski L. Telehealth’s post-pandemic future: where do we go from here? American Medical Association. September 7, 2020. Accessed May 2, 2021. 5. Barthelemy JE. The newest trends in telehealth in 2020. Medical Group Management Association. January 12, 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021. 6. mHealth: New horizons for health through mobile technologies. World Health Organization. Accessed April 18, 2021. 7. Telemedicine and telehealth. Updated September 24, 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021.,usually%20at%20a%20different%20time 8. AI in healthcare: how it's changing the industry. Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. May 5, 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021. 9. Telemedicine today: patient adoption and preferences during COVID-19 and beyond. June 16, 2020. Accessed June 4, 2021. 10. 2020 State of telemedicine report. Doximity. September 2020. Accessed April 2, 2021. 11. Siwicki B. Telehealth, linked to an EHR, drastically reduces no-show rate at Garfield Health Center. Healthcare IT News. December 2, 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021.,and%20cancellations%2C%E2%80%9D%20Yu%20reported 12. Committee on Rheumatologic Care. American College of Rheumatology position statement: telemedicine. American College of Rheumatology. Accessed April 15, 2021. 13. Telemedicine market size worth $298.9 billion by 2028 | CAGR: 22.4%: Grand View Research, Inc. News release. PRNewswire; March 9, 2021. Accessed May 2, 2021. 14. Safavi K, Kalis B. How can leaders make recent digital health gains last? Accenture. August 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021. 15. Morano S. The truth about telemedicine. June 4, 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021. 16. Undeland M, Malterud K. Diagnostic interaction: the patient as a source of knowledge? Scand J Prim Health Care. 2008;26(4):222-227. 17. Sherman T. How doctors can build trust with their patients. American Association for Physician Leadership. August 25, 2017. Accessed April 15, 2021.,a%20higher%20quality%20of%20life 18. Birkhäuer J, Gaab J, Kossowsky J, et al. Trust in the health care professional and health outcome: a meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(2):e0170988. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0170988 19. Orthopedic surgeons: changing the paradigm of physical therapy for orthopedic surgeons. PT Genie. Accessed April 15, 2021. 20. A breakthrough in wearable health technology: VitalPatch®. VitalConnect. Accessed April 15, 2021. 21. home page. Accessed April 15, 2021. 22. Remote Care Partners home page. Remote Care Partners. Accessed April 15, 2021. 23. emocha Health home page. emocha Mobile Health Inc. Accessed April 15, 2021. 24. GYANT home page. GYANT. Accessed April 15, 2021. 25. 100Plus home page. 100Plus. Accessed April 15, 2021. 26. HEALO home page. HEALO. Accessed April 15, 2021. 27. home page. Accessed April 15, 2021. 28. talkEHR home page. talkEHR. Accessed April 15, 2021. 29. Mend home page. Mend. Accessed April 15, 2021. 30. Connect N' Care® home page. AMD Global Telemedicine. Accessed April 15, 2021.

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