As I have discussed on several occasions, there is no doubt that consumerism is a key driver in health care these days. As patients continue to take a more active role in choosing their health care providers, paying for a greater percentage of their health care, and managing their health care spending accounts, they will continue to evolve into more savvy consumers. With this reality, along with the demand for providers to keep cost down by insurance companies, the retail or consumer model of health care delivery will continue to grow.
For hospitals and health care providers, an integral component of attracting and retaining consumers is an ongoing and increasing investment in technology. In fact, technology is dramatically redefining the way we manage health care. In an “app” driven world, consumers have come to expect customer friendly technology to help mediate their interaction with health care providers.
And so, I read with great enthusiasm this recent article in Inc., outlining some new technology trends dominating our industry. According to author Avi Savar, the top three recent innovations in health care technology, include the following:
- Patient Scheduling Software which allows for better patient management and communication. With this type of software, providers can send appointment reminders and patients can schedule appointments on line. Implementation of this software not only saves money and time, but decreases the number of patient no shows and improves customer service.
- Smartwatches that Detect Heart Attacks by monitoring heart rates and notifying users of their vitals. While these watches are no substitute for medical consultation or care, they can serve as an additional safety valve by keeping a constant eye on heart performance. In fact, some products on the market will notify 9-11 if they record what they think to be a cardiac emergency and with a built in GPS, can provide patient location information.
- Marketing Automation Software which grabs patient data from various points of contact and puts it all in one spot. It helps providers deliver targeted communications to patients, improving customer service and patient loyalty. It also offers providers real time patient analytics, allowing for quick problem solving and improved care and medical services.
While, I think Savar is correct in his assessment of these technology trends and their influence and importance in the market, I would add one other important innovation to this list: tele-health technology.
Through tele-health technology platforms, like TGH VirtualCare, patients can engage with medical staff remotely via desktop or a mobile screen app. Here, patients get convenient, cost-effective and immediate medical care anywhere they are as medical staff are able conduct the same interview and diagnosis that occurs in a traditional urgent care office visit. Providers can treat many common conditions or illnesses such as colds, fever, rash, stomach flu, sinus infections, pink eye and headaches, as well as prescribe medications. This technology offers another way for patient to receive access to care when they need it, is cost effective for providers and is becoming increasingly popular.
If health care providers are going to compete for market share, they must recognize that investments in technology are a key component to success. Just as quality and affordability of care have helped drive consumer health care decisions for years, today ease of access and integration—often provided through a technological application—is equally important. The bottom line is that keeping up with technology will keep you in the game.