One could easily argue that health care is one of the last frontiers to have experienced digitalization. Rightly so, this greatly regulated industry is infamous for being slow-moving in adopting fresh trends and often bogged down by strict regulations.
However, with the swift adoption of technology, health care facilities are beginning to integrate conventional medical practices with state-of-the-art solutions.
Today’s patients are more savvy than ever about their own wellbeing and equipped with new technology to precisely track every data point about their own health. Consequently, patients are looking forward to a new level of high-quality medicine, making a culture of patient-centered care critical to both care givers and seekers.
In this piece, we will be exploring how exactly digital technological solutions can help drive patient-focused care and improve outcomes.
1) Mobile Apps Help Improve Quality of Care
56% of US physicians said they have discussed an app or digital program with a patient related to their diagnosis or treatment in the past one year.
The mHealth app market has seen exponential growth in recent years due to increasing adoption of advanced technologies in health care facilities and the need to reduce long waiting periods.
Both patients and physicians equally benefit from health care apps.
While for a health care provider, medical apps can prove to be highly instrumental in maintaining patient records and appointments, and scheduling meetings with medical representatives; for a patient, these apps can furnish a dedicated dashboard to monitor progress in daily reports. This can be especially helpful when it comes to managing chronic conditions.
Health care providers can easily furnish 24-7 availability by getting a mobile app developed for their organization. Doctors can keep complete track of a patient's condition from anywhere and at any given point in time which helps them quickly take necessary steps in case of an emergency.
They can also stay aware of the patient’s health records, update care plans accordingly and maintain communication as required, thereby facilitating better monitoring.
Some of the common types of mHealth apps available in the market for patients today include:
- Telehealth and Telemedicine,
- Chronic Disease Management,
- Patient Education.
According to one recent report by the American Journal of Managed Health, 62.6% patients and 59% clinicians believe there is no difference between virtual/telehealth and physical visits as far as the overall quality of the visit is concerned.
At present, telehealth apps are certainly one of the best options available to boost patient engagement and deliver consumer-centric care.
Taking an MVP approach and aiming for a minimum viable product can add an aspect of scalability to telemedicine app development. That way, you get exactly what suits the needs of your organization, that too well within your budget.
2) Integrated Software Solutions Enhance Physician Workflows
Patient experience happens to be one of the most substantial metrics for the health care industry to compute the quantity of their success. However, at present, the health care industry is highly disintegrated without data interoperability, the ability to scale, flexibility, and proper advanced care coordination systems in place.
An integrated solution that enables health care providers across the country to transform their existing user experience, boost workflow efficiency, and augment financial performance is the best way to accelerate the shift toward more patient-centric and value-based health care.
Integrated software solutions foster communication and collaboration among health care providers. These systems not only share patient data, but also work in conjunction to design a detailed treatment plan taking into account the patient’s preferences, needs, health outcomes, and level of participation.
A number of innovative health care software solutions are placing greater focus on reducing costs by leveraging big data analytics. This also helps them effectively manage a large volume of patient data and make it more secure, which further helps streamline physician workflows.
By leveraging an integrated end-to-end software approach, a health care facility can combine technologies with cloud infrastructure to build a robust management model for medical data and operating technology applications, which may include clinical workflows and sensors.
This approach further epitomizes how digital systems can offer a more comprehensive view of the efficiency and usage of the whole health care process among caregivers and within the facility, thus helping health care organizations drive patient-focused care.
3) Augmented Reality (AR)/Virtual Reality (VR) Solutions to Ameliorate Outcomes
According to one recent report by Statista, the global market size of AR and VR is set to touch $72.8 billion USD by 2024, growing at a pace of 54% five-year CAGR over spending.
Some of the ways these two immersive technologies can be used to drive patient centric care delivery include:
Pain is more mental than physical. The more you fear a medical procedure, the more pain you’re bound to experience. Not just kids, adults who have certain phobias experience greater pain too.
Augmented reality solutions can be used to provide immersive and interactive education to the patients who may be skeptical or fearful. Doctors and other health care professionals can not only employ AR and VR technologies to train interns, but also use them to educate patients about their own health during consultation sessions.
This will further allow physicians to impart trust and confidence into their patients, placing them in a better position to make informed decisions. When patients are able to comprehend their illness and the treatment approach in a better manner, they tend to be much more responsible and receptive toward self-care.
VR-based games and tests enable identifying the early stages of various diseases such as Alzheimer disease and schizophrenia. With a virtual 3D model of the affected organ or tissues (or any other troublesome virus, bacteria or cells), it gets easier for physicians to observe the smallest details from different angles.
Therefore, VR solutions can easily be put to use for prompt detection and prevention of an illness before it gets aggravated further.
One of the key benefits of these immersive technologies lies in ameliorating the quality of training for medical students while enhancing retention and understanding and driving down costs of training.
VR and AR technologies can aid medical professionals in learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body in a highly effective manner. Conventional training procedures involve static two-dimensional images where a medical student has to rely on his/ her own mental imagination to complete the picture. These technologies enable students to see every little detail, further improving the learning experience.
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are many other ways in which AR and VR technologies are helping health care organizations furnish an exceptional patient experience and prepare for a promising future.
The future of care truly demands a virtual health ecosystem: one where providers start adopting a proactive approach, not a reactive one.
Collaboration is the key. Only when all the disparate technological solutions within a certain facility work together in perfect harmony, will the organization truly be able to deliver care in a consumer-focused manner.
Try looking at the various digital solutions available today and integrate the ones that can help you streamline workflows in a more effective way. This is the only way to gain success moving ahead.
Dr. Leo P. Langlois is an extensively experienced board-certified physician and surgeon, graduated from Brown University Medical School, completed residency training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and fellowship trained at University of California Davis with over 27 years of experience treating chronic disabling conditions and chronic intractable pain who has run a successful private practice in Bakersfield, California since 2003.