Like most industries, healthcare is rapidly going digital.
However, in the digital world, patients no longer see themselves as just patients. They view themselves as consumers of healthcare products and services. And they want access to high-quality healthcare that won’t break the bank.
In their quest to keep patients satisfied, clinicians and providers turned to technology-based solutions.
Patients Are Setting the Pace for the Digital Revolution
There’s mounting evidence that patients are at the forefront of the digital revolution in healthcare.
According to Healthcare Weekly, “70 percent of healthcare businesses have implemented telemedicine in some way as a way of diversifying their practices and connecting with patients in a way that better suits them.”
That’s only one example of how patients’ wishes and needs are changing the healthcare landscape. In this article, you’ll learn about nine more key changes driven by patients.
- The rise of on-demand healthcare
As consumers, modern patients are putting more emphasis on convenience and experiences. That’s why on-demand healthcare has gained more and more traction in the past few years.
On-demand services like telehealth apps and telemedicine platforms take healthcare right to patients’ virtual “doorsteps” (example: Teladoc, Hello Alvin, Babylon Health). Some providers and clinicians even make home visits prompted by mHealth apps.
So, what’s fueling the proliferation of on-demand healthcare, beside patients’ wishes and needs? The rise of mobile technology.
Mobile phone ownership is empowering patients more than ever, enabling them to make more informed healthcare decisions. Over 77 percent of Americans already own a smartphone, laptop or tablet and 65 percent of physician-patient communications are mobile in nature.
- Millennials and virtual care
Millennials (people born after 1980) have been widely criticized for their lifestyle choices. It’s been said that they are the death of the American Dream, given their inclination for renting versus buying a home.
Regardless of your opinion on the generation, one thing can be said, they are rapidly changing the culture to be that of one based on convenience and efficiency, with a high level of focus on technology. And they have been as vocal about their preferences for healthcare services.
According to a recent Accenture survey, millenials are inclined towards non-conventional healthcare models.They are big fans of virtual care (VR), retail clinics and digital health devices.
In fact, 16 percent of survey respondents said they are dissatisfied with doctor’s office waiting times, and 13 percent aren’t happy with the location of their physicians.
As a result, 39 percent of millennials participating in the survey said they have already switched from seeing a primary care provider in person to virtual care, and 41 percent said they visited retail clinics instead of seeing a primary care provider.
- Gen Z and retail clinics
Similar to Millennials, Gen Z (people born between 1995 and 2015) have developed an appetite for retail clinics and virtual care. Having been brought up in the digital era, these younger patients want healthcare that integrates emerging technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI).
Gen Z is foregoing its primary care providers as well. The same Accenture survey found that only 55 of these patients have a primary care provider, compared to 84 percent of baby boomers.
- Patient-facing apps
It seems like new patient-facing mHealth apps are being launched every other day. Thankfully, cutting-edge medical device software development combined with a data-driven marketing approach has made it possible for mHealth apps to be more intuitive, minimizing patient risk.
Unfortunately, not all patient-facing apps are created equal. In fact, less than 50 percent of patient-facing apps available on the App Store and Google Play have the potential to improve outcomes and engagement for patients.
This is the reason why Mount Sinai Health System has developed a robust platform called RxUniverse, enabling doctors to prescribe mHealth apps they deem useful and relevant to their patients.
- Improving customer service with chatbots
Excellent customer service has always been extremely important for patients, but has become even more so in the digital age. This is where chatbots come into the picture. Chatbots not only improve customer services, but they also act as point-of-care for providers and as medical assistants for patients.
In addition, chatbots are an asset to care teams and managers. Take Cancer Chatbot, for instance, an AI-powered chatbot that helps chemo patients better manage their care by offering them tricks and tips.
- Using social media to enhance and track patient experience
The digital age and social media go hand in hand. Companies across the board are having to create social media strategies that are both impactful to their customers and meaningful to their business plans. But how does this correlate to the medical field?
Like most brands, social media allows healthcare organizations to create interactive experiences with their patients. It also allows medical industries to access more data about their customers as well as track health trends in real-time.
- Healthcare for every budget
One of the most well-known issues in the US healthcare system is the high price of life saving drugs. But thanks to new apps, patients are now able to shop around for the best possible drug prices, all from the comfort and convenience of their smartphones.
This is especially important for low-income populations or those living in remote areas. This segment of the population may not otherwise have access to these medical services.
- Shoppable healthcare
In a race to make healthcare more transparent and affordable for the patient, providers started offering digital solutions for comparing the quality and prices of medical services and prescription drugs. In a matter of seconds, customers can now discover if there’s a cheaper – yet equally effective – alternative to the medication prescribed by their doctor.
- Centralized, more accessible patient data
Smart, patient-driven, digital healthcare has forced hospitals and practices to seek software solutions that make patient data accessible from a secure, unified system. AI command centers, for example, leverage the massive amounts of data generated by hospitals to increase operational efficiency.
As they become more educated about healthcare, patients are demanding more personalized, affordable, transparent and convenient healthcare services that integrate with technology.
Consumers are not only willing to be monitored wirelessly using mHealth apps, but they are also taking an increased interested in their health. Patients want to work in tandem with their providers to better manage their conditions.
In response, healthcare providers and organizations are turning to technology-based solutions to meet their patients’ needs. Healthcare organizations and clinicians are shifting from fragmented care delivery systems to more integrated models that will better serve the patient.
In other words, members from across the healthcare sector, from caregivers to non-profits, are harmonizing their services to ensure that the patient is an active participant in their health across the spectrum.