Updated for novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
Engaged patients are key to many of the improvements sought by governments, insurance companies and consumers. Seen as the gateway to better patient experiences, user-facing technology were supposed to drive patient-centered care for the next decade. Heading into 2020, it was anticipated that these healthcare innovations would remove barriers to more engaged patients and consumers.
And then came the global pandemic. The global elective healthcare supply-chain froze, while providers turned their capacity to treat those infected with COVID-19. This is the supply-side shock that no one expected.
On the demand-side, consumers stayed away, either because they were told to self-isolate, or because they were afraid of the risks of contagion. Demand for elective, hospital and clinic based procedures fell precipitously, overnight. Remote care – telehealth or telemedicine – has been suddenly pulled into the center sage. Providers and doctors, who were reluctant, have suddenly embraced remote care with gusto. And given the willingness of insurance providers to pay for telehealth, and the enthusiasm consumers have for it, there’s no turning back!
These and many other topics are the focus of EPIC the 1st European Patient Experience & Innovation Congress
Interfaces between and among consumers, insurers and healthcare providers are the focus of tremendous research and investment. Among different healthcare systems, the patient experience is too often different and inconsistent. Younger consumers especially want the “Amazon” experience when accessing healthcare and health insurance services. But how do competing providers offer seamless patient experiences across platforms which often are incompatible and do not “talk” to each other? The lack of interoperability is pointed to as a major source of both excessive costs and clinical errors. Consumers who can easily use their tap-and-go credit cards at Starbucks, Target and the ATM will simply not tolerate or accept technological barriers to accessing healthcare and communicating with providers. Providers who design seamless interfaces can capitalize on this emergent and now dominant consumer behavior.
The healthcare services ecosystem is full of opportunities for improvement. Concepts of creating value in healthcare services (think “Triple Aim”) imply measuring outcomes, as well as patient satisfaction. Yet these metrics assume that the consumer has already chosen a provider and is fully engaged in the treatment process. However, how does the consumer select a provider? How does the dominance of handheld devices impact this choice, and the consumer’s satisfaction with her choice?
Technology in healthcare is sometimes criticized as impersonal, and technological solutions may at first seem incompatible with improving the patient experience. Broader social changes, and now the global pandemic are forcing providers to reconsider how they adapt and integrate technology.
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