It’s a digital world out there and there’s no turning back. Smartphones, tablets, wearable and apps link us to the news, entertainment, shopping and our friends. They map our journeys, record our walking miles, help us meditate and answer our questions about every subject we can think of.

They’re also making it possible for us to receive personalized health care on demand. And make no mistake, more of us than ever are demanding digital health care experiences with a strong warning that we’ll go elsewhere if we aren’t getting what we need. Just look at these startling statistics.

Our national Hailey Sault research conducted in 2017 about why patients switch providers indicated that:

50% more people were shopping—or considering switching providers—than three years prior.

A recent Harris Poll found that the majority of consumers are now choosing primary care providers based on how well they use technology. 

59% of all insured patients and 70% of millennials reported they would select a primary care provider who had a patient mobile app over one that does not.

46% would choose one who offered virtual treatment options over one who doesn’t.

One more. According to a new survey from Black Book:

90% of patients no longer feel obligated to stay with health care providers that don’t deliver on overall satisfactory digital experiences.

What do your patients want from their digital health care experience?

General Apps

At minimum they want apps that help them search for a doctor or specialist, access family health records, make or change an appointment, access test results, pay bills and fill prescriptions.

Virtual Visits

As they shop for convenient, affordable health care and as insurance companies begin to foot the bill, patients would love to avoid trips to the doctor’s office for non-emergent care. Some health systems are now using virtual visits for everything from e-prescribing to pre-surgical consults, chronic disease management check-ins and more.

Wearables and portable tracking devices

Patients concerned with prevention would like to exchange health data from wearable devices with their physician in an effort to track their health status and progress, including tracking their blood pressure, weight and blood glucose.

Customized Apps

Patients would also like apps from their provider that can:

  • track their medication
  • help with their mental health
  • support their rehabilitation with follow-up plans, rehab journals and interactive physical therapy sessions
  • help them cope with conditions like heart disease, cancer, asthma and diabetes

The digital experience must also be a human experience.

While patients are demanding digital experiences from their health care providers, Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Adrienne Boissy warns in an article in NEJM Catalyst, that health systems must be careful not to think of their patients as iPatients.

“The digital experience will be most powerful when it intentionally enhances the human(e) experience: the uniquely profound experience of feeling connected, seen, known and valued. The most humane experiences happen when we meet patients where they are by designing the types of touch points they want and need. Of course, there will be places where technology cannot go. Yet, the virtual or digital touch could nonetheless be warm and empathic, if we design it to be so.”

As patients take control of their health they are also demanding their care become centered around their life and schedule as opposed to being at the convenience of their provider or health system. This is the time when health systems must become creative in bringing together services related to diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention for their patients.

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