As technology continues to play a bigger role in patients’ lives, they are seeing new ways to use those devices and applications to their benefit. Patients are part of an always-on, always-connected world that has been enabled by increasingly powerful devices and high-speed networks that put most of their needs at their fingertips. That’s changing the way they interact with different brands, and it creates a new set of expectations.
What is Healthcare Consumerization?
Consumerization refers to how the technologies consumers use impacts businesses and how businesses can embrace the demand for technology-driven relationships. The healthcare industry is no exception, and patients’ desire for their providers to feature connected health technology in their care models is growing. Some of the specific areas patients are looking for providers to leverage technology more include:
Digital Transformation in Healthcare
The increased appetite for digital healthcare isn’t surprising considering the prevalence of these technologies in everyday lives. Consumers are able to shop for products and services online, they are able to make reservations for dinner or events, they use video to communicate with friends and family members, and their connected devices monitor their activity levels, home security, and even their refrigerators. Naturally, they want the same conveniences from their healthcare providers.
In fact, 59% of patients would choose a physician who offers a mobile app, and 78% of those who own wearables want their doctors to be able to access data from their wearable devices.
Connecting Health and Technology
Connected health solutions offer providers the opportunity to deliver on many of these patient expectations, and more. By leveraging digital devices and applications that can not only deliver the added convenience patients want but can also maximize physicians’ time and reduce some of the inefficiency in the healthcare system – all while driving positive patient outcomes.
How Connected Health Helps
More Convenience for Patient Engagement
Just as online shopping makes it easier for consumers to acquire goods, online portals for scheduling visits, renewing prescriptions, and getting information means patients can perform those actions when it’s convenient, instead of when offices are open. Likewise, virtual visits can allow patients to see their doctors within shorter time frames, since they don’t have to worry about commute times and long waits that can impact their other activities, including work. More than half of patients say convenient access to healthcare services is the most important factor in their healthcare decision-making.
Patients also want more access to their own healthcare data, including physicians’ notes and test results, to be able to verify accuracy, track their own health, and remind themselves of important comments or instructions from their doctors. This supports the notion that patients want to be more involved in their own health and wellness and want to leverage connected health technology to do it. Patient portals, secure messaging, virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, and other connected health applications can all help improve patient engagement as well as empower them with more information about their own health, treatments recommendations, and general questions and concerns. By providing greater access to information, providers can also reduce the demand on physicians and staff.
Big Data Means Better Experience
Connected health tools – patient portals, remote patient monitoring devices, telehealth visits, diagnostics testing and scans, and other sources all create massive amounts of data. Just as other industries are leveraging the data created by their customers to deliver better experiences, healthcare providers can leverage their data to make more informed and faster decisions, especially when using artificial intelligence for analytics. On an individual patient level, the RPM devices and patient-provided data can help drive more timely decisions, rather than waiting for in-person visits.
Improved Healthcare Billing Transparency
In today’s Amazon and Google world, patients want price transparency before they buy, but, last year, 91% of patients were surprised by a medical bill. With insurance premiums having increased by 227% for individuals, 255% for family coverage over the past two decades, it’s also not surprising that 89% of patients want to understand their financial obligations in advance. Most (85%) also want an online tool to help estimate costs before even visiting a doctor. Digital tools that connect provider systems, payer platforms, and deliver up-front information to patients can help streamline the entire process and make it easier for patients to make informed decisions. For providers, the move to a fully connected infrastructure can help them more efficiently collect payment – 87% of providers are still using paper and manual collections processes. It’s also worth noting that 83% of healthcare consumers would prefer electronic payment methods.
Easier Access to Physicians
Telehealth solutions, including remote patient monitoring and virtual visits, can give patients better access to physicians. By leveraging virtual care technologies, neither patients nor physicians have to wait for in-person appointments to check in or intervene if any warning signs appear. Similarly, physicians can include specialists or other caregivers for consultations as needed, reducing the time needed for complete care, and including all relevant parties in health discussions. Digital health records can help ensure all physicians have access to updated health information with which to make informed recommendations.
There’s no question technology has changed the way patients behave, and the healthcare community has an opportunity to leverage the thirst for digital engagement to drive better health outcomes and more efficient delivery. Ultimately, it’s a win-win, as patients’ satisfaction can improve, and physicians and staff can spend more time treating patients and less time on administrative tasks and other things that take up much of their time.