Thanks to an influx of exciting new technologies and partnerships, patient experience and the healthcare industry as a whole are rapidly changing.
The impact of additional research, new data developments, and cutting-edge treatments on the healthcare industry is truly impressive. Major medical providers around the world must now embrace the future of medicine so they don’t fall behind — but they’re not the only players in their field. Whether healthcare providers like it or not, it appears that technology and media giants will be joining them in this brave new world of medicine.
Healthcare executives might be skeptical, but the entrance of tech and media companies such as Apple and Amazon into this arena promises to meet pressing needs the industry has fallen behind on. For example, a lack of solid cybersecurity among healthcare institutions has led to massive breaches of sensitive data, and this includes information such as patient health records, Social Security numbers, and billing information.
Augmented with expertise from companies in outside industries, though, healthcare organizations and patients can both benefit. To put it simply, seasoned tech and media companies can enhance frustrating parts of patient experiences that lag behind the times.
Healthcare’s Unlikely Players
Comcast isn’t the first company to come to mind when someone mentions healthcare, but the telecommunications giant recently partnered with Independence Health Group Inc., one of the largest Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers in the United States.
The two organizations are building a healthcare technology platform designed to give consumers access to health education materials and care easily and on the go. Their project will also be open-source, allowing other companies to use it as a foundation for their own services and features.
This is a promising partnership, but healthcare organizations must be in the right position to truly benefit. Unfortunately, the reality is that few are. A study by SAP and Oxford Economics suggests that despite the value of emerging technology in healthcare, only 2 percent of organizations have completed their digital transformation. Another 54 percent remains in the early stages of testing and piloting programs.
As tech, media, and healthcare giants collide, it will become even more important for healthcare providers to embrace new technologies and partnerships, take advantage of data, and digitize their operations. While those that do will benefit the most from the changing landscape, those that don’t will struggle with the following obstacles:
1. Stagnant patient care resources
One of the biggest selling points of digitization and corporate crossovers is that they unlock many of the potential benefits of big data. In many industries, this information is used to measure customer satisfaction or inform certain operational changes. In the healthcare world, it can be put to use assessing risk factors and identifying preventative (or even life-saving) treatments.
One big opportunity for this is in wearable devices. As Apple Watches, Fitbits, and other wearables gain even more traction, it’s easier to imagine a future where patients have instant access to their entire medical history over their lifetime. Medical data can also be added to enormous pools of data so that researchers can study health trends based on geographic areas, socioeconomic statuses, or other criteria they deem necessary.
New information and technology can also help clinicians rapidly identify and apply care, which will be especially helpful in many emergency situations.
2. Skyrocketing healthcare costs
A study from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that healthcare spending grows at an average rate of 5.5 percent each year, and the study predicts that the market will reach a staggering $5.7 trillion by 2026.
This excess is bad news for patients, but the latest crop of new technologies might be able to help put out-of-control growth back in check. Remote monitoring and telehealth, for example, could be promising solutions when it comes to cutting costs while still maintaining a high quality of care.
Many people already use FaceTime at home and video conferencing tech at work — so it seems that telehealth visits would be a natural extension of daily life. In fact, 65 percent of U.S. hospitals have already caught on, and 13 percent plan to start their telehealth journey in the next year.
If healthcare organizations don’t adopt or experiment with these new technologies, patients could keep bearing the weight of immense medical bills.
3. Underinformed medical professionals
When it comes to new technology, consumers don’t wait for the approval of a review board, conduct risk assessments, or determine return on investment projections over the next three to five years. They adopt it, learn to use it effectively, and move on.
As savvy healthcare organizations enable patients to access information easily and efficiently, patients will familiarize themselves with their own medical history, including risk factors and how to alleviate them.
These same patients — armed to the teeth with their own medical information — aren’t likely to visit healthcare providers who know nothing about them for medical care. Instead, they’ll go to the medical centers where doctors can access their data in an instant and give them more accurate diagnoses and tailored solutions.
Our tech-centric world has encouraged tech-savvy tendencies in almost everyone, and an increasing focus on customer experience has naturally created a more demanding generation of customers. As other industries have improved their accessibility — with corporations worth millions responding to, say, individual customer tweets — healthcare has remained in the relative dark ages. Paper billing statements, clunky apps, and long wait times to see doctors will no longer suffice when customer-centric media and tech companies come to town.
Ultimately, healthcare organizations that embrace tech and media crossovers will be the ones that come out on top. After all, the expertise and experience of these peers could be the key to solving the pain points of both patients and healthcare organizations alike.