Today’s healthcare systems is a value-based one. That is to say it is consumer-based. What we’re seeing is a fundamental shift from simply access to medical services toward an increased focus on the convenience of medical services. Years ago, people outnumbered medical providers. There simply wasn’t enough healthcare to go around. Today, there is no shortage of providers out there, making it less a matter of if people have access to healthcare, and more a matter of which provider is going to give them the best experience for their buck.
Below are some trends that we are seeing with this shift to a more consumer-, patient-centered experience.
Increase in Partnerships
Medical groups will need to look out side of their own resources if they’re going to help the most amount of people in the best way. For non-profit medical organizations, like Renown Health, this is especially true. That’s why the Renown Health Foundation has made such effort of working with philanthropic partners throughout the community.
The Renown Health Foundation has secured funding for a number of niche medical practices that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, for instance low-dose CT scanners made specifically for children. But amid growing competition between medical providers, even for-profit institutions will need to make the most of their community if they hope to keep prices affordable and equipment up-to-date. The future of healthcare is going is going to be more interconnected.
Increased Coordination Among Providers
Instead of having patients fill out the same forms every time they visit a physician, we’re starting to see a shift to a system wherein providers are able to communicate with one another via intelligent cloud computing networks. The benefits of this trend or more than just doing less paper work.
After all, it seems like a no-brainer that your dermatologist should have a stable medium of communication, right? Why should the patient be the one who has to do all the grunt work, when they are coming to a medical provider to get someone to take care of them. Of course there’s a reason this sort of network between providers didn’t exist before. It’s really hard for providers to communicate with one another across town (let alone across the country!), but the advent of smart networks and cloud-based features (like IBM Watson) is making this patient-centric paradigm a possibility.
Increased Use of Social Media
Social media is growing to be an important avenue by which individuals submit and organizations receive feedback. As Jason A. Wolf of the Beryl Institute recently put it:
“What once was a world of physical proximity bridged across geographies through connective technology such as phones or other forms of communication has emerged to what I see as a world of social proximity.”
Just as providers are growing closer with the help of advanced data infrastructures, the gap between patients and providers is being narrowed by the “social proximity” of social media. The customer is always right, but there’s never before been such an opportunity for providers to hear from patients on such a wide scale. To quote Wolf once again:
Your Twitter feed is data; your Facebook chatter is valuable intelligence.
Increased Involvement of Providers
As all of the above illustrate, providers need to become more involved in the wellbeing of their patients. It’s no longer enough to give a prescription to a patient, send them on their way, and tell them to come back if they are still experiencing symptoms. Providers need to show an active and consistent engagement in the livelihood of their patients.
That doesn’t mean that physician themselves have to thoroughly engage patients (maybe in a perfect world where patients don’t so greatly outnumber providers…), but the hospital, the pharmacy, the clinic as a whole needs to have a system in place for checking on patients and establishing a connection. It’s now common knowledge that individuals/consumers/patients are no longer looking for just the service. They’re looking for an emotional experience. In the case of healthcare, a more supportive and present experience is a no-brainer. Especially, with the advancements in technology that we have recently seen.
Increased Use of Apps and Wearables
I’ve written about this in my Population Health blog, but apps and wearables are changing the ways that patient manage their own health and also interact with providers. For instance, Apple’s Healthkit and Samsung’s HealthKit both give patients an unprecedented level of self-monitoring. Northwestern University in conjunction with Intellicare has created a suite of apps geared toward helping individuals manage their mental health.
Wearables like FitBit allow people to track their physical activity on their own. When paired to advanced platforms like Welltok’s IBM Watson Heart App, wearables and other IoT devices allow individuals to track their weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol, while making health recommendations for a better patient outcome.
In the future, healthcare organizations will be more connected, more integrated, and will put patient’s first. They will need to. For the unfamiliar, it might seem odd that healthcare sector is becoming increasingly more and more consumer-centric, but this trend toward a patient-centric paradigm propitious in more than one way. On the one hand, consumers have more choice; on the other, healthcare organizations have to work even better to provide the best experience possible.
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Thanks for reading.