Humanizing the Digital Healthcare Experience - MedCity News

Ask anyone to describe their experience with digital health technology, and they’re likely to use adjectives like complicated, frustrating, and impersonal. The current tangle of eHealth systems, isolated point solutions, and unintuitive applications—none of which can communicate with the others—has created a user experience that pales in comparison to the user-friendly way other industries operate. Banking, transit and e-commerce prioritize the user with holistic platforms that deliver a seamless and truly positive experience.

Ann annual survey conducted by Cedar revealed that 49% of healthcare consumers wish their digital healthcare was smoother and closer to Netflix, Amazon or Uber. Where other industries provide personalized and engaging technologies, healthcare falls short, but investing in the right patient engagement tools that tailor experiences will help combat rising expectations.

These are the three changes health tech needs to make to recreate Amazon, Uber, or Venmo-like experiences in healthcare that will most accurately help digitally replicate the humanized interactions patients want:

Create an inclusive infrastructure

The digital healthcare ecosystem has reached the point of complexity we know today due to a lack of interoperability. With solutions operating in a single silo, patients are forced to manage multiple applications and web portals for every element of their care. Recently IQVIA Institute Study found that consumer app stores include more than 350,000 health-related apps, with an average of 250 new apps hitting the market every day.

To mitigate this complexity, digital platforms need a comprehensive infrastructure with open APIs. Recent legislation such as Interoperability and Patient Access Final Rule, help promote cross-platform data sharing, but the ecosystem is so crowded that it will take years to achieve the level of interoperability desired by users. Deploying a more inclusive infrastructure will consolidate data and provide a unified view of the patient, resulting in a more positive digital experience.

Personalize the experience

A comprehensive infrastructure will unlock the power of data and enable “deep personalization”. For example, Amazon encourages engagement by tracking past orders and predicting what its users will want to order next. Spotify can recommend songs to listen to based on playlists you’ve already listened to. Technology platforms must collect information about the user to uniquely tailor UX and UI, which will help inform other aspects of the technology. How companies obtain this information and use it strategically will determine the quality of the user experience.

Healthcare organizations are improving their personalization methods by unlocking user data from wearables, EHRs, claims and patient health goals in combination to inform their unique user experiences. Using pieces of data from different areas of patients’ lives that are already being collected will enable a humanized experience through implementation, rather than adding more steps to the process.

Technology is meant to act as an enabler, and although healthcare as a whole is lagging behind, the industry is slowly implementing personalized strategies that improve engagement. Data silos that have historically limited data sharing between platforms are beginning to fall, and data from traditional EHRs can help create a robust user persona. Open architecture platforms that can take advantage of EHR data will truly unlock the next generation of digital experiences. The largest EHR vendor in the US, Epic, recently took a huge step toward a more interoperable healthcare ecosystem when it agreed to join the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), an initiative created by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a national data sharing network. Such participation in the new legislation by health technology players will support the data sharing we need to build a truly patient-centric healthcare ecosystem.

Building around user expectations

The aforementioned platforms like Amazon have set the bar for user experience extremely high. Now, the users I expect the same level of personalized, high-quality experience in every digital interaction across industries.

A HealthMine Health Plan Intelligence Survey found that 90% of health plan members have access to a member portal, but only 21% of them use the portal regularly. This lack of engagement likely stems from confusing navigation, general futility, or poor incentive. But pioneers in the world of consumer technology have laid out a tried-and-true blueprint for engaging consumers and meeting—or exceeding—their expectations.

When Netflix evolved its model from a DVD-mailing business to a direct-to-consumer streaming platform, it completely revolutionized the industry and was a masterful strategy to engage its customers through multiple touch points – smartphones, smart TVs and tablets. Healthcare technology could take a page from Netflix’s playbook and they win its place on the home screen of the customer’s smartphone. This requires consistent engagement between care providers and their patients, not on an episodic basis. After waiting for DVDs to arrive in the mail individually, the move to streaming fundamentally changed the way users engaged with Netflix. Likewise, if a consumer could access their health information or even connect with a provider “on demand,” it would dramatically change the way they think about and interact with their care.

Through customization, customer experience care, and open architecture, healthcare technology developers can help the industry match the digital experiences consumers have come to expect. By bringing the “Netflix experience” to healthcare and modernizing our ecosystem, we can make the patient experience simpler and more accessible. Humanizing touchpoints where patients would once have an in-person encounter will help normalize digital interactions. In turn, this accessibility leads to increased engagement, which can contribute to more positive patient outcomes.

Photo: elenabs, Getty Images

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