No one can deny that the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on the world. It changed the way people live, work, and play. It also put an increased emphasis on health, and, in many ways, consumers are starting to play a more active role in their health than ever before.
In simple terms, consumers are learning more about their health risks and taking control of their health data by changing their attitudes towards data privacy. More importantly, though, consumers are increasingly communicating with their doctors in new and diverse ways.
In a sense, technology plays a large part in this. Therefore, healthcare providers and facilities need to incorporate the relevant technologies into their digital platforms and channels to cater to the evolving needs of consumers.
All these factors will play a significant role in healthcare in the future. So, with that in mind, how is healthcare bound to change in the years to come? In this post, we’ll look at this question in more detail.
What Is the Future of Healthcare?
So, what exactly is the future of healthcare? Well, for one, many consumers are taking responsibility for their own health. As such, consumers are visiting more healing retreats and spas and learning how to take care of themselves. In other words, they’re acting proactively and preventatively to improve their health.
By using a proactive approach to their healthcare, consumers are increasingly looking for information online. In fact, many medical practitioners are encouraging their patients to use books, websites, and seminars to get the information they need to take charge of their own health.
Others incorporate medical information into their websites which, in turn, empowers consumers with relevant and valuable information they can use on their road to wellness.
Apart from providing this information, technology also plays a significant role in the future of healthcare. It gives consumers new and innovative ways to track their health and make better decisions while also being able to access and use their medical record data while taking ownership of it.
But how does technology empower consumers to take control of their health? Let’s take a look.
Emerging Healthcare Technology
As a result of new technology, consumers are increasingly using it to measure and maintain their health. In fact, 40% of the consumers in the US said that they used tools to measure their fitness and track their health improvements. To do this, they use a variety of tools like smartphones, apps, personal medical devices, and fitness monitors.
Among these consumers, 70% believe that using a device to track their health will help them change their behaviour. Also, about half of these consumers shared the data they gathered from a fitness device or monitoring device with their doctors.
This, ultimately, means that consumers take control of their own health and enable their doctors to improve the standard of preventative and patient care by using this data.
Now, several other technologies are also significant in the future of healthcare, and these go far beyond consumers just tracking and measuring their health.
Telemedicine and virtual visits were already popular before the pandemic. They were thrust into the spotlight again when the pandemic broke. And it’s easy to see why when you consider that consumers are getting the information they need and prescriptions from virtual visits.
Ultimately, telemedicine helped expand access to high-quality healthcare at a time when patients were restricted from seeing their doctors. As a result, the adoption of telemedicine has been astonishing, and the industry has grown from 11% of consumers using telemedicine before the pandemic to 46% of consumers using it during the pandemic.
While this surge in telemedicine’s popularity has been mainly driven by consumers wanting to avoid exposure to COVID-19, there is increased interest in it. In fact, 70% of consumers indicate that they are highly likely to use telemedicine platforms and services even after the pandemic. In fact, it’s estimated that the telemedicine market could be worth up to $250 billion in the future.
As a result, telemedicine and virtual visits will be a significant part of the future of healthcare. For this reason, it will also require a new way of working by healthcare providers, and to improve their position in the market, they’ll need to take the necessary steps now.
And they likely will, considering that 57% of healthcare providers are more favourable now to telemedicine compared to before the pandemic. And it needs no mention that it enables them to see more patients and provide better patient and preventative care.
Despite this, some consumers still feel that there are gaps in the virtual visit process, and for this reason, they’ll still use in-person healthcare services.
One technology that can make in-person visits, whether at a hospital or at a doctor’s office, better is self-service technologies. It’s becoming increasingly popular in the healthcare industry because patients are experiencing more convenient and effective services by using these self-service technologies.
And the demand for these services is driven by the convenience and choice consumers are experiencing in all other parts of their life. For example, consumers can self-checkout at a grocery store, pay bills from their laptops or mobile devices, or deposit money through apps on their smartphones.
As a result, more consumers are gravitating towards businesses that let them do these tasks at their own convenience and save time in the process. It also enables consumers to take control of a part of their health. As we saw above, many consumers view this as important.
The other side of the coin is that healthcare providers will need to implement these features into their range of services to give patients the technology experience they expect. This then serves to improve patient satisfaction scores and offers consumers a more enjoyable and convenient experience.
- All-in-one solutions and platforms that automate the entire medical check-in process, whether it’s at a hospital or at a doctor’s office.
- Mobile check-in options that would give consumers the convenience and ease of use they expect and need.
- Integrated data that follows the patient no matter where they are. This means that the patient’s data will be available to doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and other medical facilities. This not only means a seamless experience for the consumer but also a significant improvement in patient and preventative care.
- A fast and intuitive checking experience that eliminates filling in tedious forms and patients waiting in long lines to be assisted.
If providers succeed in this, they’ll be able to give their patients the experience and convenience they need. They’ll also be able to stand out from their competition and distinguish themselves while at the same time reducing costs, increasing their revenue, and collecting more patient data than ever to further grow their practice.
The Practitioner’s Perspective
So, we’ve mainly looked at the future of healthcare from a patient’s or consumer’s perspective and some things providers should do to implement this.
The key takeaway is that that patients and consumers are ready to embrace a self-service culture in healthcare. It gives them the convenience and choice they have in other aspects of their lives while also allowing them to play an active part in their health.
But what about the perspective of the practitioner? Considering the increasing shift to self-service in healthcare, it comes down to practitioners and other healthcare facilities understanding this and their consumers to adjust their services to the consumer’s expectations.
So, apart from what we mentioned above, healthcare providers and facilities will generally need to:
- Deploy new tools and services that consumers are willing to use and share their data through the use of the services. This will enable healthcare providers to monitor patient care more effectively and provide consumers with more convenient care. In turn, this ensures better consumer satisfaction and improved adherence to treatment.
- Ensure data interoperability. Although consumers are more likely to share their health data now more than ever, the challenge is that this data is spread across a variety of channels. Therefore, providers should take the steps necessary to unite this data into one unified platform that will give consumers access to all their data in one place.
- Invest in virtual health technology. As shown above, telemedicine and virtual visits will grow exponentially in years to come. Therefore, healthcare providers should look at processes and give consumers access to their own physicians instead of third-party services. This could cause a more remarkable shift to virtual visits where some consumers are still of the view they need in-person visits.
- Build consumer trust. Although patients and consumers are more willing to share their data now, this might change after the pandemic. This means that healthcare providers should implement the necessary strategies to build trust with their patients and consumers to make them feel comfortable sharing their data after the pandemic. Ultimately, the services mentioned above rely on this data, and consumer trust will be necessary to provide the services in the future.
The Bottom Line
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the healthcare industry. Consumer needs shifted from a more traditional approach to taking on a self-service culture. This culture involves using several technologies to monitor and track their health and interact with medical professionals.
As a result, healthcare providers and facilities will need to take action now to adapt to this shift and provide consumers with the choice, convenience, and ease of use they expect, whether it’s something simple like incorporating valuable and relevant healthcare information into a website or providing an all-in-one solution for patient check-in.
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