Patient demand for a more seamless, immersive, and convenient healthcare experience has pushed providers to adopt new technologies and digital avenues that support patients long after they have left the medical office. Whereas past budgets were devoted to hospital infrastructure and clinical output, today’s consumer-driven healthcare system relies on new investments in consumer-friendly technologies to ensure patient ease, satisfaction and loyalty. Practitioners who ignore the digital needs of patients are at risk of losing both customers and revenue to competitors offering similar products and services. Here are three ways healthcare providers need to leverage the power of technology in order to remain at the top of an increasingly competitive industry:
Medical Apps & Digital Patient Engagement
While patients are increasingly wanting to manage and monitor their health through mobile applications, healthcare providers are failing to meet consumers’ growing demand for mobile engagement. In a survey by Salesforce.com, 71% of millennials would be interested in a doctor giving them a mobile app on their smartphone to manage their health for preventative care, review medical records and schedule appointments. Despite this demand, hospitals have only engaged less than 2% of their patients using mobile services, and only 11% of providers have apps that satisfy at least one of the three requirements consumers want the most: access to electronic medical records (EMR), the ability to book, change or cancel appointments, and prescription refill requests. By not providing patients with a mobile app that meets their needs, providers are losing both patients and revenue to competitors offering competing products and services.
Wearable Technologies & Embedded Devices
Fitness-tracking devices and wearable technologies are gaining massive popularity, with the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicting the wearable market to reach 213 billion units by 2020. While wearables were initially established by healthcare institutions to capture long-term data such as heartbeat and blood pressure monitoring, bigger names of wearable tech such as Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple Watch have gone one step further to create a line of wearable tech products (wristbands, headbands, shirts, belts, jewellery, etc.) that are modern, functional and user-friendly. Providers have had many opportunities to leverage the trend of wearable technology in their own practices; however, not all practitioners are as enthused about the idea of self-empowered patients monitoring and analyzing their own health. Regardless of where doctors stand individually on the use of these devices, the growth of wearables in healthcare is a driving force in the industry. With busy patients no longer able to visit the doctor or undergo time-consuming tests, many are turning to the “digital medicine” of their devices to gather data on various health parameters such as sleep tracking, emergency response and location, posture correction, and even fertility.
Telemedicine & Online Patient Care
Telemedicine, the clinical diagnosis and monitoring services offered remotely by a physician, allows patients to receive the best healthcare services regardless of location. In addition to patient convenience, practitioners also reap the benefits of telemedicine by being able to treat more patients in a shorter span of time even if they are on the go or out of the office. As many patients are drawn to the convenience of making a telemedicine appointment, the adoption of this service is essential to increasing patient numbers. Practitioners who fail to recognize the demand for remote patient care are already behind the curve.
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