Who will be the next Amazon of health care? That’s the question posed by PwC in a report that explored how the health care industry is innovating to meet the demands of the digital consumer, or in this case, patient. The general consensus from patients concluded that they wanted to “shop for their health care” the same way they would for a new summer read – from their mobile device with all of their medical information at their fingertips.
Technology has given consumers a higher standard for services that are instantly accessible, and expectations remain the same for the health care industry. Wearable devices, mobility and analytics are shifting the way people move through the health system, and big data is at the center of it all. How is big data being used by patients, and what’s its effect on different facets of the health care industry?
Big data can help physicians understand patient behavior, which in turn impacts care delivery and their practice. For example, by offering empty appointment slots online, people can book appointments at their convenience, and the practice will have fewer open spots. Patients, as consumers of health, want flexibility.
In conjunction with mobility, big data is changing the way patients engage with their doctors and experience their treatment. Research has found that three out of five patients would choose telehealth visits over in-person appointments for minor check-ups and follow-ups. In PwC’s survey, more than 50 percent of respondents would feel comfortable sending a digital photo of a rash or skin problem to a dermatologist for an opinion. Not only is the technology for “virtual treatment” available, but 64 percent of surveyed patients expressed their willingness to adopt new, non-traditional ways of seeking medical attention. In a world where services are available in an instant, doctors must start treating their patients as a customer to continue to meet their needs. That includes opening the line of communication or easier visits and quicker treatment.
Similarly, wearable devices and fitness trackers, such as FitBit or Jawbone, track activity as well as sleep patterns, heart rate and diet. Integrating a patient’s electronic health record with this type of technology, and going one step further to make it accessible to doctors, has the potential to streamline a patients’ medical experience and more accurately predict health problems. Compiling all of this data in one place gives doctors a goldmine of information on their patients. It also allows for a more personalized medical experience, as poor sleep patterns and weight gain could mean something different for a diabetic than it does for someone who might have a thyroid issue.
Doctors in 2015 have a unique advantage in that their patients actively monitor their health with mobile apps, wearable devices and social media. People keep a closer eye on their workouts, caloric intake, sleep patterns and vitals than ever before, creating a resource that could only exist in the digital age. Another survey conducted by EHR provider eClinicalWorks found that 78 percent of consumers who use wearables more than once a month feel it’s useful for their doctors to have access to that information; however, very few mobile and wearable apps can be accessed by both the doctor and patient. The health care industry’s next step in mobility involves making that connection between physicians and patients so that each party benefits from the amount of available data.
By: Girish Navani, CEO, eClincialWorks.
Originally published at http://health.usnews.com