After days and days of waiting for test results from a recent hospital stay, I finally found out my diagnosis. And interestingly enough, it didn’t come from a doctor. In fact, all my test results, health history, and even my appointment schedule were accessible first through an application on my mobile phone.
There are other interesting changes for those who have frequent interactions with healthcare companies. A co-worker of mine needs monthly doctor visits – but instead of driving to an office, she visits her physician online via video conferencing. For patients with daily medications that need close monitoring the pill connects to Bluetooth and logs the dose using a phone app. Even huge retailers like Amazon have gotten on board, allowing patients on several daily medications to order pill packs of meds for each day, replacing the old practice of sitting surrounded by pill bottles sorting them into plastic boxes.
These recent advances in medicine have greatly improved the quality of care for patients. They have also made it more important than ever that businesses in the healthcare industry evolve. And one huge focus for organizations is improving patient and provider experiences. Patients want healthcare treatments that are accurate, convenient, and inexpensive. Providers want to give that to patients, as well as save time for physicians and money for insurance companies. In order to stay competitive in the healthcare space, more and more business are recognizing the need to consider these experiences and figure out how to prioritize making them better.
In fact, PwC’s recent Global Consumer Insights Survey demonstrated the need for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies to expand traditional metrics of success to include a focus on customer experience. While return on investment is important when measuring a company’s success, we need to introduce an additional metric: return on experience (ROX). During this digital age, consumers have more control than ever when it comes to their health – and it looks like these opportunities will only grow by popular demand. This means that it is essential for companies in the industry to provide the best possible consumer experience if they want to remain competitive.
While actually measuring ROX can be tricky, companies have certainly tried their hand at improving the patient and provider experience in a wide variety of ways, from making schedule appointments a breeze to creating wearable devices to monitor a whole host of health components. Here are some ways that companies in the healthcare industry are putting their patient and provider experiences first:
Perhaps one of the most notable shifts in the healthcare industry is the practice of virtual health. Bringing the provider to the patient via technology is not only convenient for both parties, but it has the potential to provide new opportunities to a variety of patients across the globe. Patients can receive access to medication and physician appointments in ways that work around their schedule and restrictions. Often, a virtual visit is more affordable than one in-person, which is especially important for those patients without insurance.
Planned Parenthood has long been working to break down barriers and cover gaps in access for patients. Recently, they are expanding their virtual offerings through the launch of Planned Parenthood Direct, an application that will bring services to patients that live in remote or rural areas, have trouble traveling to appointments, struggle finding childcare, or have been traditionally underserved. Patients will be able to request birth control, get prescriptions for conditions like UTIs, and schedule appointments. Users receive a response from their clinician within just one day. All 50 states are expected to have access to this technology by the end of 2020.
In recent years, other organizations have also pushed to increase accessibility of healthcare services that are routinely stigmatized. In fact, Nature Digital Medicine found 1,435 mental health applications available for consumers across app stores. Some are focused on mindfulness or meditation, while others offer more complete behavioral health services. Ginger, a behavioral health startup, provides digital mental health services through a mobile application for those suffering from anxiety and depression. The platform offers behavioral health coaching, tele-psychiatry visits, video therapy, and loads of self-guided content. Ginger also offers these services to companies’ employees through extensive employer partnerships. While there is still much to be explored when it comes to the validity of such mental health applications, it’s a great start in the right direction.
Not only do these technologies increase patient accessibility to doctors, but they will soon be able to give additional access to reliable health information. Babylon Health, a digital healthcare startup with a trained AI doctor, can offer more credibility than self-diagnosing using WebMD. When it comes to the machine’s ability to correctly diagnose patients, the artificial intelligence scored an average of 10% higher than human doctors. Eventually, AI doctors might even be trusted to prescribe medication for diagnosed conditions. Users can investigate ailments and receive trustworthy information, all while freeing up human doctors to focus on sorting out more tricky conditions. This technology has the potential to save millions of dollars for healthcare providers as well.
Let’s face it – no matter how much information might be at your fingertips, it’s worthless if you can’t understand it. While translation apps still need some work, there are several instances of mobile technology that can break down language barriers when it comes to healthcare. Though many medical facilities provide interpreters, they largely remain on the premises. The right application can provide access for non-English speakers in the U.S. to medical information with the potential to prevent miscommunication and save time and frustration for a group that has historically struggled with access to healthcare.
It is in developing these innovative new medications that even more potential for increased accessibility lies. Technologies like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and big data are prevalent in pharmaceutical development. Applications like ResearchKit
provide the ability to access unserved populations of people and include them in research and analysis of new drugs, thereby developing the latest medications for those that haven’t been studied in the past. Digital solutions like these allow everyone access to new and better medicine that might not have been possible without them.
EASE OF USE
Convenience is a major component of patient and provider satisfaction. In such a complex field, the ability to ensure a smooth process from beginning to end is critical. Experiences that allow for greater ease of use are largely consumer-driven and technologically inspired. Consumers now expect their healthcare experiences to parallel their other daily interactions with technology.
Perhaps one of the more common instances in this space is the wide-spread use of online patient portals. Many different insurance providers, including big names like Cigna and Blue Cross, give their patients access to information via a patient portal, sometimes with a companion mobile application. Now patients have easy access to information on diagnoses, claims, medications, appointments, and more. These can be a one-stop-shop for patients, drastically simplifying their experience – especially if they visit multiple specialists! This technology is continuously involving, become more patient-centered and allowing for more control over a once very confusing experience.
As previously mentioned, the pervasive use of telehealth has enabled patients to save themselves the trip to visit a doctor or refill a prescription. Patients are no longer required to research the right doctor, confirm their benefits, call the office, wait on hold, take off work, pay for transport, check-in with receptionist, and wait in the waiting room before they can see a doctor. This is very impactful for those that suffer from frequent illnesses they are able to recognize and just need to fill a prescription. Living with any illness is far simpler, so patients can get back to healthy with limited interruption of their daily routines and responsibilities.
Consumers enjoy the convenience to readily access information about their healthcare, but many patients rely on that information in between catching a virus as well. Technology also simplifies complex care management, affording patients with chronic conditions more freedom. For instance, Glucose Buddy is a free mobile app that allows patients to better manage diabetes. Users can track blood sugar and medication, log vitals, and track their carb intake. It provides easy-to-use reports that are printable and identify trends in data. It also integrates with other health applications to provide a more complete picture of overall user health. Products like this one help to give autotomy back to patients with conditions that affect their daily lives.
Easy-to-use technology doesn’t just benefit patients, however. For instance, medical staff can reap the benefits of automated scheduling software. By streamlining this process, staff can get a lot of their time back. In fact, when they have the availability to do so, almost half of patients prefer to schedule appointments online anyways. Patients self-scheduling are also more likely to make same day appointments, filling up empty slots that typically cost providers an average of $1,000 a week! Making an appointment is often a new patient’s first interaction with a provider. Keeping it simple for your staff ensures a much more positive experience for the person at the other end of the phone as well.
Wearable technology makes it easier than ever to leverage data, make a plan, and see real results. This type of technology has been popular among consumers in the form of Apple watches and Fitbits
. However, healthcare organizations have further developed this technology to do incredible things for serious illnesses. Disease prevention is a common focus for wearable in the healthcare industry.
The iTBra is an innovative health invention that helps women detect breast cancer early by monitoring factors that corelate to tumor activity. In fact, this technique is less invasive and more effective than a traditional mammogram, especially when it comes to detecting cancer in dense breast tissue.
Last year, L’Oreal introduced a wearable electronic UV sensor to collect data on ultraviolet exposure so users can take steps to protect themselves. KardiaMobile and KardiaBand have transformed the bulky electrocardiogram test into a wearable technology that alerts patients with arterial fibrillation, a common heart rhythm disorder, to alert patients and providers to irregular heartbeat patterns. And that’s just the start: there are plenty more promising examples of wearable technology that provide users increased simplicity and more control over many different aspects of their health.
Managing health can be overwhelming at times but taking advantage of personalization opportunities allows patients to feel more in control. Personalization in the healthcare industry has become increasingly important to the overall patient experience and physician quality of care. Traditional healthcare was built with concern for providing services, as opposed to concern for individual needs. Now, consumers are demanding more tailored healthcare options that focus on incorporating the whole person as opposed to only treating specific conditions or symptoms.
In order to provide the care that people have to come to expect at prices businesses can sustain, healthcare companies need to abandon standardized practices in favor of more personalized ones. Many have started to make the shift, even in small ways. Healthcare providers offer personalized user profiles with the intention of enhancing the experience. For instance, profiles may indicate a patient’s preferred method of communication, which helps to inform providers whether they’d like to receive a phone call, a text, or check out the app for something like test results. Patients can also indicate whether they want to see a doctor in person or remotely via telephone or video conference. Technology also affords the opportunity for consumers to better evaluate doctors and choose one that fits their unique preferences.
The cost of healthcare is often a large stress on patients, so providers can help by offering patients the opportunity to get suggestions for managing their healthcare costs. For example, patients can manage profile settings to indicate how often they want to hear from their insurance providers, what types of communication are preferred, and what information they’d benefit from receiving. In fact, there is a big push in the healthcare industry overall for moving from a fee-for-service model towards one that rewards providers for happy, healthy patients. Both patients and insurers don’t want to pay for services, tests, or treatments that don’t prove valuable for their health.
Identifying personal patient values and providing services to match have given many healthcare companies a competitive edge. Nutrino Health recognizes that food can be a very personal and cultural experience, but also a great medication. Their nutrition platform, FoodPrint
, uses artificial intelligence to provide users with insights on how their body responds to food. Ultimately, users can discover what is good for them not only for their body in general but for their body in any given moment. Sutter Health knows that emotional connections are important in getting people more involved and engaged in their care. They have had success in developing those connections with new parents by capturing the birth day from the partner’s point of view and sharing it with the mother 30 days later. We know that people make decisions based on emotion, so recognizing ways to tap into that side of consumers makes a company memorable in any industry.
Now that technology has made data easier than ever to collect and share, consumers are also looking for increased control over their data. Patients desire the ability to choose what data goes to their provider versus what data goes to the insurance company. Right now, everything the patient shares with the doctor is available to the insurer, as based on the releases patients must sign in order to get coverage reimbursed. However, patients want the ability to identify certain details about their health with their doctors that they do not want to share with their insurance company.
Not only are companies in the healthcare industry prioritizing personalization options in their consumer-facing technology, but they are expanding this to clinical ventures as well. Treatments themselves are becoming more and more personalized as technological advances allow us to consider them based on factors like symptoms, lab results, and even genetics. At Geisinger, a health service organization serving communities in the north eastern United States, DNA sequencing will soon be offered to every patient at no extra cost. This information will allow doctors to find genomic variants that indicate increased risk of diseases like cancer, thereby taking the right steps to treat and prevent the disease before any clinical symptoms surface.
Surprisingly, with the push towards personalization comes a focus on population health. While it may not be obvious, the two are connected in many ways. In order to learn more about the needs of an individual, it makes sense to learn more about those that are like them. This type of inclusion provides a solid base for further individualized treatment. Propeller, a respiratory health start-up, used an innovative rescue inhaler to collect data and help patients predict asthma patterns to better manage their diagnosis. For many patients, this data was also shared with their physician, serving to inform conversation and improve their quality of care. Most of the patients using the tech inhaler also shared their data with Propeller. As a result, we can analyze trends and provide insight to patients that were not involved but can also benefit from ways to improve asthma symptoms.
The rise of technology in the healthcare field has led to increased opportunities to leverage data to drive innovation, improve delivery of care, and affect positive patient outcomes. At the end of the day, the healthcare industry is recognizing that both patients and providers are better off when patients are healthy. That’s why major players in the healthcare space are looking to improve patient experience by improving their health outcomes. Data-driven healthcare companies are taking advantage of this new capability and creating applications and platforms focused on evidence-based care. These companies are using clinical, social, and behavioral data to provide real value to all different types of stakeholders.
, a healthcare start-up, was founded on the basis of cost transparency for prescription drugs. Their free website and mobile application tracks prescription drug prices via more than 75,000 pharmacies across the U.S. They use this information to provide significant savings to almost 4 million consumers each day. The world’s leading digital mental health company, SilverCloud Health, boasts over 30 different programs that cover the spectrum of mental health on their proprietary platform. Not only does this platform drive engagement, expand access, increase provider capacity, and lower provider costs, but it has been responsible for 65% significant improvement in patient outcomes.
In addition to these great innovations, patients want to be able to evaluate a practice, test, or even a doctor based on outcome results. However, it’s hard to get data today on things like ‘false positive’ results of certain common tests, especially those done by a particular practice – there are a lot of variables to consider. With the advent of more powerful AI and analytics engines, this type of data can become available. The McKesson Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation is tackling this problem using healthcare analytics. McKesson continually evaluates healthcare practitioners by aggregating data from outcomes, complaints, observation, and resource use and comparing them to measurements like professionalism, communication skills, and patient care.
Consumers today can do a certain amount of cost comparison but they have no quality rating against which to measure the cost/value of going to one provider or lab or treatment versus another – it’s all very hidden and hard to evaluate if you want to take control of your own health decisions. The Aetion Evidence Platform addresses this issue using real-world data (vs. data from clinical trials) to ensure transparency and accuracy throughout the healthcare process. Patients can better evaluate the value of treatments, manage their costs, and understand potential risks. Users can obtain optimal care at speeds that keep up with consumer demand.
In many countries around the globe, diagnostic errors are the leading cause of malpractice claims and other patient complaints. Therefore, healthcare companies can improve outcomes by using technology to reduce the risk of an incorrect diagnosis. Treating the wrong disease can be a huge waste of time and money for patients, doctors, and insurers. This can cause major setbacks in patient recovery. In turn, treating a disease too late has the potential to be fatal. Software systems for managing work and hospital information can mitigate the risk. IT systems that are intuitive and easy for providers to use reduce the potential for error. Implementing quality assurance systems and using artificial intelligence to assist practitioners with decision-making can save money and lives.
In fact, there are many benefits to maintaining electronic health records (EHRs). Comprehensive records help doctors understand the whole picture and diagnose problems faster. Qualified EHRs condense all patient information into one place; however, they do more than just store and transmit information. EHRs can provide alerts and reminders, like life-threatening allergies or dangerous medication combinations. Built in safeguards prevent adverse events and ensure practitioner adherence to best practices. Additional benefits to a sophisticated EHR system include increased patient satisfaction, increased provider satisfaction, reduced rate of after-hour clinic calls, easy-to-obtain medication, fewer medication errors, and improved quality of care screenings, increased revenue, and an increase in preventative services.
EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING
In recent years, experience has become the great differentiator for companies across industries. Healthcare companies have led the charge when it comes to providing the best possible experience for stakeholders. Technology is at the core of this seismic shift and will continue to evolve as we march into the future of value- and evidence-based care. Companies will keep innovating to meet changing consumer demands for healthcare like increased convenience, holistic care, and more control and autonomy for all.
Today, healthcare companies are using technology in new ways to increase accessibility, improve ease-of-use, deliver personalized care, and ultimately allow for better health outcomes. Major examples of these initiatives include:
Virtual, digital, and telehealth for accessibility and convenience
Artificial intelligence for enhanced diagnosis and decision-making
Translation apps to improve experiences for non-English speakers
Research apps to involve previous excluded populations
Electronic health records to access info and improve outcomes
Online patient portals for on-stop-shop healthcare
Mobile apps to better manage chronic illnesses
Scheduling software to streamline process for patients and employees
Wearable technology to collect and leverage data
Personalized user profiles to indicate preferred care
Services and products correlated to actual patient values
Increased control over data collection and sharing
Personalized treatments based on DNA sequencing
Investigations into population health to boost quality of care for all
Platforms focused on evidence-based care
Products to support cost transparency and savings
Expansion to include mental health services
Evaluating practitioners and treatment value with real-world data
Quality assurance software to reduce diagnostic errors
Comprehensive health records to allow for holistic care
How are you taking advantage of data and technology to craft an excellent experience for your patients and healthcare providers? Dreamsoft4u
’s extensive experience in the healthcare industry means that we understand the challenges you face and are prepared to tackle them head on with you. Contact us to see how we can help you keep consumers happy and healthy.