Healthcare is in a constant state of evolution. The tools, treatments, and information available today have transformed how people view and manage their health, and health systems in turn have expanded their capabilities and the ways they deliver service. That’s largely thanks to digital healthcare technology that has made care more personalized, proactive, and interconnected.
What’s at stake is more than just customer satisfaction: A good experience can be the difference between getting care that is needed or avoiding it. The good news is that the healthcare system today has more technology and information at its disposal to make things better, and a broader view of whole health and how physical, behavioral, and social drivers influence people and populations.
Simplicity, Transparency, and Connectedness
People prefer to work with systems that are seamless and easy to use. In healthcare, people want digital experiences that are easy to understand, safe, and enable relevant information to be passed seamlessly between different care providers — from their primary care doctor, to the specialist who helps them resolve an issue, to the pharmacy that fills their prescription.
Paired with that experience, people want the ability to see, protect, and validate their data. Many financial firms have developed systems that allow users to see all their accounts in one place, even when they are of different types or with different institutions. Healthcare can be that interconnected as well. Health companies are working to make health data less siloed, so it can be accessed by consumers and care providers, all while maintaining the highest levels of privacy and security.
“What we’re trying to do with our digital platform for health, in particular, is to really make those seamless connections,” said Kyle Weber, chief strategy officer at Elevance Health. “Consumers look at what they see in other industries, particularly finance and retail, and there’s no reason that they shouldn't expect the same or more from healthcare. It needs to feel like a truly integrated system.”
User-Friendly Digital Capability
During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth use and acceptance boomed. The power of digital healthcare to transform the healthcare experience was clearly demonstrated as telehealth visits spiked 8,000% from February to April 2020 during the first wave of COVID-19, and since then has settled back to a usage rate that’s 38 times pre-pandemic levels. Out of necessity, people created accounts, scheduled visits, and used their web-connected devices to access and manage their healthcare — and in many cases, they liked it. In fact, three quarters of healthcare consumers say they prefer digital tools.
Digital healthcare technology has made it easier for people to get the care they need, when they need it, whether that means digital, virtual, or in-person care — or, in many cases, a combination of all three. This has significant implications for health equity — for people who lack nearby healthcare facilities, telehealth and digital tools may be a good option if they are available.
Personalized, Expert Care
The outcome of these technology-driven solutions is the expectation that people will receive personalized care and relevant health information that supports their needs. The rise of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) gives healthcare systems new tools to offer personalized care.
By comparing a person’s records with a large set of information collected from others, a reimagined healthcare system has a better chance of proactively identifying potential health concerns and helping a doctor to be on the alert before symptoms even appear. That information can also be used to connect someone with resources to prevent a health-related social need from turning into a health concern.
“What we are trying to do is to provide a more holistic view of a patient's health through use of digital technologies, building that as part of the fabric of our ecosystem,” said Anil Bhatt, Elevance Health global chief information officer. “That helps us ensure that we have better outcomes and enhances efficiency in day-to-day health and wellness.”
Being Seen, Validated, and Treated With Cultural Humility
What people expect most of all from healthcare is to have their concerns validated and care be delivered with respect and cultural humility. When the healthcare system meets people wherever they are and offers a smooth, easy experience, it lets them focus on their health and their lives rather than on navigating through a disjointed system.