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Wearable tech, mobile communications shape health care

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The days of traditional doctor’s visits are behind us. Advances in mobile technology and digital communication are shaping a new way of looking at health care, and it’s exactly what patients have been looking to happen.

A recent study by business and tech consulting firm West Monroe Partners found that 91 percent of health care customers download mobile apps when they’re available and 80 percent of respondents favor a mobile experience over an office visit. And 31 percent of patients have used a mobile application to communicate with their health care provider.

A survey by Harris Poll in collaboration with cloud computing company Salesforce found that the majority of consumers, especially millennials, are selecting their primary care providers based on how well they’re using technology and integrating it into the customer experience.

Although patients are adopting digital health care tools slowly, the demand is there. Doctors should evolve to engage the younger generation of consumers.

There are a few trends that could shape the way the health care field evolves in the face of technology, and although they aren’t yet a daily reality, they form the future vision of health care.

CARE VIA AN APP

Patients find benefits to accessing health care information via a portal or application.

The use of portals to display important health care information such as test results, prescription updates and current health reports is a trend that is slow to take off but on the rise. Older patients are using this less than their younger counterparts, and that may in part be from not understanding the technologies used or not knowing the feature is available.

Health care providers should be aware of this growing trend and use available technology to make accessing health information easier and more engaging to their consumers.

Creating an application so patients can access this portal and information from their phone will have a lasting effect with higher engagement.

INVOLVEMENT BY THE PATIENT

Compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act may seem like an insurmountable hurdle for health care when compared to other industries.

But there are tech providers who know how to work within regulations to create an off-network solution that won’t sacrifice user experience.

All in all, this new way of accessing personal health information should have patients more involved in their own health care journey.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

Patients are more engaged than ever with their health care thanks to wearable tech.

It’s already a part of our daily life. From Fitbits to apps that track our diet, anxiety level or heart rate, we as consumers have a high level of comfort with wearable technology and our health. That comfort level is something the health care industry should take advantage of.

Eighty-one percent of people who responded to a survey by the tech firm Trustmarque and researcher YouGov said they would like to see an increase in connected, wearable devices in the health care industry.

By increasing digital wearable tech use compared to traditional practices in doctor’s offices and hospitals, health care providers could see significant cost saving, and collect valuable information, while staying more engaged in monitoring patient health.

IMPROVING CARE, SAVING MONEY

VentureBeat, a leading source for tech news, published an article about how wearable devices can improve patient care while saving hospitals money.

The article noted that a typical patient is checked on every four to eight hours. Wearable tech can transmit vital signs to a nurse in real time, allowing better prioritization of patients and accelerating care to patients in need.

Patients with serious illnesses can continue to wear these devices at home, reducing the need for unnecessary readmission, further cutting cost and prioritizing care.

Patients are interested in virtual treatment, and care-from-anywhere is the future.

GAME CHANGER

To this point, the health care industry has been reliant on brick-and-mortar facilities and face-to-face interactions.

Virtual treatment is a game changer that will significantly disrupt the industry, for the better.

It may feel like a foreign concept; however, as virtual treatment becomes more commonplace, patients will come to expect it as the standard.

And, as a whole, virtual treatment and the care-from-anywhere health care approach will allow for greater access to health care for the majority of people.

ADAPT OR RISK PERIL

These changes will not occur overnight.

It’s important to be realistic about the health care industry and prepare yourself for the changes that patients are expecting.

Not being prepared can have drastic effects on patient engagement and, to the skeptical, younger millennials and Generation Z, it can discredit your practice entirely.

John Mulder is managing partner at 3Seed Marketing, Design & Interactive in Schnecksville. He focuses on developing marketing strategies and creative campaigns while keeping an eye on emerging marketing trends. He can be reached at mulder@3seedmarketing.com or 484-646-9300.

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