It’s that time of year again. The malls are packed, the poor UPS guy is pondering another line of work, and we’re all reminding each other to be merry. You may be thinking a lot about what your kids want for Christmas, but it’s a good time to think about what your patients may want as well. As the healthcare marketplace becomes more competitive and consumers become more involved in the management of their own care and costs, it makes sense to pay attention to how they want providers to add value to their experience as patients.
American consumers today are highly connected individuals. We connect with friends, family, colleagues and even strangers over social networks and other tools. It’s easy to share information, collaborate on projects and even instantly send money to anyone we like. That’s why patients are becoming less tolerant of the information silos that have existed in healthcare for so long. Modern customers expect providers to be able to share information easily and immediately.
While customers want information to flow freely between providers, they also demand that it be protected from unauthorized individuals. Data breaches erode the trust between patients and providers and hinder efforts to streamline care. According to research firm IDC, by the end of this year half of healthcare organizations will have experienced between one and five cyber-attacks in the previous 12 months – with a third of those attacks successful. Healthcare providers need to understand the value that patients place on privacy and security and make the right IT investments accordingly.
Today’s customers are accustomed to easy comparison shopping and access to customer reviews on almost everything they buy. This access to information has changed the way people buy everything from cars to real estate. Customers increasingly expect the same for healthcare services. They want visibility into the cost of procedures, outcome histories for providers and facilities, and patient reviews and ratings.
Patients are increasingly embracing digital medicine solutions that make it easier for them to get care, when and where they need it. Telemedicine platforms are one example of how customers can get the services they need without a trip to the doctor’s office. According to a PriceWaterhouseCooper study, half of doctors believe e-visits could replace more than 10% of in-office patient appointments.
Telehealth technology has a big role to play in meeting the high expectations of patients in 2016 and beyond. We agree with Daniel Garrett, health information technology leader for PwC, who said, “Digitally-enabled care is no longer nice-to-have, it’s fundamental for delivering high quality care. Just as the banking and retail sectors today use data and technology to improve efficiency, raise quality and expand services, healthcare must either do the same or lose patients to their competitors who do so.”