Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Tech's role in the patient-to-consumer evolution

ORLANDO, Fla. – As health systems begin to imagine a post-pandemic world, there is still the question of how digital will be a part of the future. The industry is also witnessing the change of patients into consumers and the desire for easier access to healthcare. 

“We see a lot of our clients starting to see the tail end of the pandemic, and they are starting to make a decision: ‘Do we want to go back to the way things were, or do we want to ride the wave of what we’ve been doing with some of the virtual digital?'” Bill Fera, principal at Deloitte Consulting, said during HIMSS22’s Patient Experience Symposium. “I would submit that some of our most innovative clients are going forward with digital, virtual and not thinking about how to get everyone back to the in-person experience.”

Digital tools have often been used to meet consumer needs. Today, patients are also expecting more and turning on that consumer mindset. 

“I think we are migrating to the consumer-customer mindset. I think it’s important to migrate to a customer mindset because when we talk about customers, we usually talk about customer engagement, customer experience, customer loyalty. When we talk about patients, we tend to hear words like compliance, adherence. There is more of a paternalistic association with the word patient than there is with the word customer. Customer is at will. … We have the toughest customers in the world in healthcare because we don’t get to choose our customers. We can’t cherry-pick our customers. We have to serve all of our customers, and we have to do it at an unbelievably high level.”  

However, focusing on the consumer is only one part of the puzzle. Digital could also help boost workforce satisfaction. 

“Happy employees make happy consumers, and happy and healthy physicians make happy patients,” Fera said. “So, I think by taking care of folks with digital we can start to alleviate some of the administrative burden from our clinicians.” 

So, what could the future of healthcare look like for patients and providers? 

“The idea is that we would use virtual health, digital services, enabled by the ability to move data in a consistent, interoperable way to create that patient-centered or or customer-centered approach to medicine,” Fera said. “I would say then the change, the modernization of technologies, cloud infrastructure, data mobility, [incorporating] social determinants of health, these are all opportunities to create a richer environment and a richer understanding of patients.” 

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