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November 13, 2019
In today’s world of instant gratification, where individuals can shop, order, stream and schedule with the touch of a button, the idea of being placed on hold to receive test results or fill out form after form in the doctor’s office is but a distant memory. Modern technology has transformed the way individuals spend their time, money and energy, and now, the way they look at care. From patient portals that let individuals submit forms securely before their doctor’s visits to medical wearables that track heart rates, oxygen levels and more, we’ve gathered five digital innovations that are shaping round-the-clock, personalized healthcare.
As we prepare to enter into a new decade, we are more accustomed than ever before to having information at our fingertips. Constantly on hand or within arm’s reach, our mobile devices and computers grant us access to the intricacies of the world at large. With the rise of patient portals, we can now expect secure 24/7 access to our personal health information, as well.
In fact, 96% of US hospitals have adopted Certified Electronic Health Records (EHRs), which meet the US Department of Health and Human Services’ requirements as of 2017. This means that speed and convenience are not just added bonuses to healthcare—they’re expected. Unrestricted access to health information, such as doctor’s notes, discharge summaries, medications and lab results are included in this expectation.
Not only do these patient portals allow individuals to remain knowledgeable about their health, many of them also allow patients to be proactive, as well. These opportunities include the option to request prescription refills, schedule appointments, complete forms ahead of time, make payments and more. Ultimately, these portals can save patients time and support care between visits, making the lives of both patients and providers easier.
Let WebMD’s 74 million monthly online visitors and 52 million monthly mobile visitors attest to the fact that individuals are searching for a remote and convenient way to stay connected to their health. For many patients on the hunt for quick information, the platform offers evidence-based health information that feels personalized, current and supportive of their wellbeing, without actually being tailor-made to them at all. Health systems are beginning to understand just how critical it is to offer patients robust online experiences that are tailored to them. An increasing number of providers now offer the opportunity to video chat, message or speak with a doctor over the phone in less severe situations or between in-person visits. Not only do virtual, or telehealth, options save patients a trip to the doctor’s, it saves time for providers and can potentially save the US health system more than $7 billion annually, according to a report by Accenture.
Patients’ appreciation of this remote care options are reflected in the Kyruus: Patient Access Solutions report, which finds that one-third of the patients surveyed–including 18% of baby boomers–are willing to switch to providers that offer telehealth options. As virtual reality seeps into various aspects of life: shopping, entertaining, dining and beyond, the access and convenience it can provide patients supports the virtual reality healthcare services market’s expected growth to $285 million in 2022, from $8.9 million in 2017.
Another aspect of the digital healthcare space expected to rise in the coming years? Medical wearables. The market is forecast to reach $1.34 billion by 2021, according to MarketsandMarkets research. These biometric wearables are enabling physicians to track patients’ conditions remotely so that they can send patients home earlier with an added layer of supervision and reduce overall cost of hospital visits. As a result, more physicians are beginning to use medical devices as a first-line option for treating serious health conditions. Like telehealth, the integration of these devices overtime can help healthcare organizations and patients save time and money as information is seamlessly streamlined across multiple platforms.
For medical situations that require hospital visits, technology can improve the experience by providing a more personalized level of care to patients. Many hospitals have adopted bedside infotainment units, which combine the functions of a TV, computer, phone and nurse call button, to make patients feel comfortable and at ease. Some units also have the capability to provide environmental control, so patients can adjust room temperature, lights and blinds without having to call for a nurse. While these features may seem insignificant or unnecessary, an increasing number of providers say the units effectively relieve patients’ stress levels, promoting a positive outlook and faster recovery.
Another way to alleviate the typical stress or discomfort associated with a hospital stay is by providing effective communication between healthcare providers, patients and their families. A case study conducted at the Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children found that doctors, nurses, patients and families favored a mobile app that provides real-time updates on surgical procedures over other forms of communication, finding it both reliable and effective. In addition to improving direct communication to patients/families, other mobile features that can improve the patient experience include point-to-point directions from the parking lot to the appointment, virtual hospital tours so patients know what to expect and improved communication of events, amenities and key information.
Incorporating the five cutting-edge technologies mentioned–patient portals, virtual healthcare, medical wearables, bedside infotainment and mobile technology–adds an advantage over the competition and sets organizations up as industry leaders. Staying up to date on healthcare innovations also provides the tangible element that shows the customer comes first. Of course, in order for patients to appreciate these new technologies, they have to know about them. That’s where effective healthcare marketing swoops in to spread the word and maximize the results. Whether healthcare organizations are corporate or independent, highly regarded or newly established, informing current and prospective patients of the features the organization offers is nearly as important as the features themselves.
In addition to spreading the word through campaigns, there’s a science behind the way that new technologies need to be introduced to patients. Introducing new technologies in vague detail with statements like, “We have a patient portal you can check out,” will not be as effective in driving patients to sign up as, “Your lab results will be posted on the patient portal within 48 hours. Can I help you sign up for it?” While some patients may be hesitant to adopt new tools, emphasizing their convenience and value, answering questions and helping patients with set up (where applicable) can greatly decrease any perceived barriers to entry.
As technology and healthcare increasingly continue to overlap to enhance the patient experience, the need for effective marketing rings true. If you’re looking to maximize your healthcare marketing to connect with the right audiences or showcase new technologies, specialty procedures and more, we may be able to help! A leader in healthcare marketing, Orange Label has experience working with medical device companies, healthcare organizations and more. To learn more about our services, click here to view our work or fill out an inquiry form.
As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.