Katya Samardina

It’s Time to Build Better Patient Experiences

The global healthcare industry is almost three times the size of the global finance industry. It is faced with immense challenges that prevent the flow and sharing of information between patients and healthcare providers, and extraordinarily in many cases a lack of interest from the beneficiary.

The human body has 13 different organ systems and at the latest count we have identified more than 60,000 ways that things can go wrong.

With 17 new journals published every day, patients are often arriving at their doctor armed with their own research, expecting to collaborate with their doctor to find a solution.

Unfortunately, the current healthcare model dictates the way a patient experiences healthcare; for the most part the patient is a passive participant and can only react, rather than proactively shape their care plan with their doctor. But this is starting to change…

The consumer tech industry is the most obvious example of brands leveraging consumers’ desire to control their own consumer experience. Brands are consciously becoming more customer-centric, to provide a point of differentiation and personalize the experience for the user of the service.

This is so obviously demonstrated in consumer tech sectors like travel, finance, and retail. Yet to date there is little evidence of the health sector designing great user experiences.

To meet the macro objectives set by the health sector – reducing waste, increasing adherence, increasing preventative care and ultimately reducing costs – attention is needed to engage customers (patients and members of health insurance companies) to participate pro-actively in the management of their own healthcare. However, little resource or attention is given to understanding how to engage patients to interact and participate with their healthcare.

Consumer engagement is about providing outstanding user experiences. We need only look at parallel sectors to see evidence of this, and examples where they have created developer communities to deliver additional user experiences.

One example is Uber who have exposed their APIs allowing companies to increase consumer engagement and build new revenue streams. Users can now request an Uber ride with just their voice through Alexa, the brain behind Amazon Echo. By giving up some control of their APIs, Uber has opened massive new revenue opportunities while building loyal and rewarded partners.

Think of the airline industry, where the the entire experience from booking a ticket, getting to the airport, checking the weather at your destination, checking in, and boarding can all be handled in a single app. With Air New Zealand, their app even recognizes when you are in the Air New Zealand lounge and offers to order you your favorite coffee, notifying you when it is ready. As Air New Zealand Chief Information Officer Julia Raue says “we are continually looking at ways to enhance the customer experience and digital plays a key role in this”.

Imagine this level of experiential service during your next visit in the health sector. Imagine being given the tools to engage in your own health record and contribute information to it, then share it with your circle of care.

Healthcare will need to follow traditional consumer facing industries, it is just a matter of when. The power dynamic is shifting from the doctor to the patient, breaking down barriers that have existed for centuries where the communication has been largely one way – doctor to patient. Healthcare providers must begin to think of the patient as a consumer and embrace technology and the collaboration it enables.

Collaborative consumer tools including patient support groups: PatientsLikeMe, crowdsourcing diagnosis site: CrowdMed, and even WebMD will play a part in the patient’s treatment. Harnessing the power of the crowd through swarm intelligence, machine learning, and the patient’s own research are ways that doctors can better engage, and support a personalized journey for the patient.

The French government and Orion Health are working to address some of these issues by shifting from a hospital-centric model of care to a patient-centric model. France is leading the way in enabling coordinated and personalized information to be shared across different groups of healthcare professionals and organizations to create a better consumer experience.

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