Digital Transformation – The Driving Force Behind Patient Engagement in Healthcare
Patient engagement is the process of patient and health firms working together on improving health. It helps increase user engagement and customer retention.
SmartKarrot Editorial Team
Jun 20, 2019
Role Of Digital Transformation In The Healthcare Industry
With digital transformation disrupting several industries over the years, the healthcare sector hasn’t been left far behind. Patients have been greatly benefited as a result of this disruption. By having ready access to data, they now have more control over their healthcare experiences. As a result, more and more organizations are investing in digital technologies to sustain patient loyalty through better engagement and satisfaction.
With the digitized electronic health records, wearable devices such as Fitbit, mobile, and Internet of Things (IoT); organizations are amassing a huge amount of data. With the help of patient engagement solutions, organizations are being able to utilize this data to create actionable insights to transform patient care and, subsequently, reduce the costs. This is helping healthcare organizations meet the changing requirements of patient consumerization in the evolved healthcare era.
The State of Digital Transformation in the US Healthcare Industry
The digital transformation of the healthcare sector began with the concept of the Digital Hospital in 2000, whose main aim was to transform paper-based systems to electronic health records (EHR). This was followed by the concept of the Smart Hospital in 2007 where the popularity of EHRs increased and the healthcare’s investment in technology increased too. The Smart Hospital aimed to achieve efficient clinical outcomes, supply chain processes, and better patient experiences with the help of technology.
Here’s an interesting visualization of the digital transformation in the healthcare sector:
With the national health spending expected to reach $5.7 trillion by 2026 and most of it likely to be spent on the latest technologies, this disruption is only going to increase. With patients having busy schedules, the need for on-demand healthcare has also increased. This has also been triggered by the fact that more and more patients have shifted to mobile devices. As per stats, over 77% of US residents own a smartphone and 50% of all browsing happens on mobile devices. Patients are becoming more dependent on mobile for their healthcare needs similar to any other consumer. This can be understood from the fact that around 72% of internet users search for health information online, 47% of users search for doctors online, and 38% of users search for hospitals and medical facilities online.
The Role of Regulation in the Digital Transformation
There is a fine line between fostering the digital disruption and protecting the public’s health data. Two areas where the laws and regulations are applicable presently are the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that helps protect the consumer’s private data and the process of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval which regulates the types of software can be used. Even governments acknowledge the need for a flexible framework for the present innovations. A good example of this is the presence of huge amounts of real-world data (RWD) that needs to be regulated to meet various safety standards and also to avoid any misuse. Internationally too, efforts are being made to bring together a set of medical device regulations. For example, the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) conduct regular meetings to come up with relevant jurisdictions. Healthcare brands have a role to play here too. They need to be part of active discussions with the government to help develop individual regulatory frameworks to better create a balance between disruptive and responsible digital transformation.
The Emerging Digital Trends in the US Healthcare Industry
These are some key trends that are shaping the healthcare systems:
The Concept of Health Management – A major phenomenon in the healthcare arena has been the shift from disease treatment to health management. This approach involves not just the treatment of diseases but also other aspects such as wellness, healthy living, prevention of diseases, and rehabilitation. Patients, too, are increasingly embracing the concept since they want longer and healthier lives for themselves.
The Rise of Big Data – Big data has brought in a sea of change to the healthcare scene. With big data, now there are fewer medication errors, effective preventive healthcare for patients, and better predictive healthcare analysis. Probably the biggest advantage of big data is in the fact that it can help you understand the healthcare market better which can help you in understanding your patient better, thereby helping you in engaging patients in healthcare programs effectively.
The Emergence of Predictive Healthcare – Another interesting side to the digital transformation is the rise of predictive healthcare. The data you collect from big data and other marketing sources can help you predict the trend of illnesses and make health recommendations for your patients. Predictive healthcare can also help you to plan your staff during major disease outbreaks.
The Rise of Informed Patients – The rise in digital transformation has also given rise to more informed patients who are more aware and empowered to take better healthcare decisions. This has become possible with widespread access to the internet and the increased use of mobile devices for seeking information. With more involvement from patients, healthcare operations and processes have also become more patient-centric.
The Rise of Patient Engagement – With more informed patients, the healthcare sector is also adopting a value-based model and a patient-first approach. All operations are being guided by a common goal of positive patient experience. A greater analysis of patient behavior is helping to understand the motivations behind different actions which is leading to more tailored products and services and more personalized healthcare.
How Digital Transformation Drives Patient Engagement in Healthcare
There are a number of apps and tools which are available to patients today to meet their healthcare needs. A report from Deloitte states that the use of tools for measuring personal health progress has risen from 17% in 2013 to 42% in 2018. It further says that about one-third of patients are interested in using apps for identifying health symptoms and for health advice.
The best way to engage these informed patients is to allow them to be equal partners in their healthcare decisions. The digital transformation is in many ways helping to drive patient engagement for healthcare systems:
With the present technological advancements, it’s safe to say that Health 5.0 has arrived and is here to stay. This stage is not merely about having a patient-centric approach but providing customer-centric healthcare services. What this means is that patients are not to be seen as a part of healthcare processes but rather healthcare processes are seen to be a part of a patient’s lives. Moreover, Health 5.0 not only includes just patients but also customers of the health industry as a whole. What differentiates this stage from the other stages of the healthcare sector is the goal of creating a lifelong partnership with healthcare customers aimed at improving their health and wellbeing. This has also given rise to the concept of digital wellness, which is basically to deliver healthcare services with the help of digital technologies to cater to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of customers.
With the rise of smartphone and internet services, patient expectations for fast and simple healthcare services have also grown. Communication is one of the key pillars of effective consumer engagement in healthcare. Ensuring better communication through digital technologies such as push notifications in healthcare apps will not only help in creating better engagement but also reducing healthcare costs. This also helps give patients a sense of personal control over their healthcare and helps them be more aware of various aspects of their health. Mobile apps play an important role here in engaging and informing patients in their journey and making them proactive towards their well being.
Adopting Patient Engagement Technology
Digital transformation has greatly bridged the communication and information gap between healthcare providers and patients. This has given rise to a number of health apps which equip patients to manage their own healthcare needs. Most patients are utilizing these apps to communicate with their providers, get health summaries and reports, and schedule appointments. Several factors are paving the path towards a patient technology-driven approach such as improvements in the healthcare IT and communications infrastructure, the rise of eHealth and value-based care, and more empowered customers.
A good way to increase patient engagement is by implementing health education through personalized communication. When patients become more aware of various aspects of their health, their knowledge, skills, and confidence will increase. This can be especially important in areas where health literacy is less. For example, health education programs can help bridge the communication gap in underdeveloped areas and create more awareness in patients.
How SmartKarrot As A User Engagement Platform Helps in Driving Patient Engagement
SmartKarrot offers several user engagement features for healthcare organizations. The SmartSegmentation feature can help you reach the right segment of patients while the SmartJourney feature can help you to create a customer journey by connecting triggers, segments, and actions. You can use the SmartSurvey feature to understand patient expectations better with the help of simple surveys. With features such as SmartIncentives and SmartGamification, you can provide instant gratification to encourage participation among your patients. Thus, SmartKarrot can serve as the ideal patient engagement platform to help you reduce your healthcare costs and boost patient engagement.