Connecting Customers Virtually in the Healthcare System

Virtual reality is finally taking hold in the healthcare system and consumers are starting to warm up to the idea of receiving their healthcare virtually.

The healthcare system can be difficult at times as it is a little outdated and out of touch with the 21st century.

COVID-19 is changing things in a way we never could have anticipated, it is pushing the healthcare system into making moves and developing the industry.

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Telemedicine

The Healthcare system can leave patients waiting a long time for results it’s not always quick and patients don’t always get seen to straight away. People place a large importance on their healthcare so it’s not the type of thing they want to have to wait on or be unsure about.

The healthcare system has been out of date for a while and there are systems which could be implemented into the healthcare system, which might increase customer satisfaction. COVID-19 could be that match that lights the flame launching the Healthcare system into a new age.

There is no need for consumers to be waiting in lines anymore, not with the advancements in technology these days. According to Forrester, the healthcare industry has been too slow to adopt digital. COVID-19 is the perfect opportunity for the Healthcare system to start pulling away from the old tired techniques and start introducing some new process with the technology that is available.

The population are living much longer now and there are more people than ever in the higher age brackets. According to Bizagi because of the poor discharge system, 20% of patients experience post-discharge adverse events and about 20% of Medicare patients are readmitted to the hospital. People would be willing to move to a more digital approach in fact it found that 77% of patients would be willing to try a virtual encounter.

Digital encounters would free up a lot of time. People have already begun to start getting used to a more virtual side with the new pandemic. You could use virtual care for all types of visits including pre-operation and post-operation. Involving AI in the process of telestroke and biometric could be brilliant. Currently, a clinician is needed for these processes but if you programme AI to automate the services you will only need to bring someone in when the situation becomes more serious.

Pressure on the system

We already have some AI circulating in healthcare to help ease the system, such as sensors that detect glucose levels for people who suffer from diabetes. The maths has already been done if you start implementing AI then by 2026 the US healthcare system could have saved around $150 billion. (Accenture analysis).

Staffing is an issue in the healthcare system there simply aren’t enough people and numbers are expected to continue decreasing, if you implement AI to assist in surgeries, it could help ease the pressure. Also, according to (Accenture analysis), the physician shortage is expected to double by 2026 but AI could account for an estimated 20% of unmet demand.

 

Do your customers agree with virtual health?

It can be worrying to move onto a new system it’s risky, there is no guarantee on how the audience will react, but this time the global pandemic has given us a trial run because there was no option. It has forced consumers to get used to a new system. COVID-19 has meant that people are having to do more online consultations than they are used to, and more online services are offered than in the past.

Extending healthcare to a virtual basis can help physicians and consultants reach a much wider base in a much shorter time period. Waiting rooms won’t be full of patients and they will only need to be ready for when their virtual appointment is.

Customers are already using technology in their everyday lives a study by Deloitte insights showed that 59% of consumers are already using technology for prescriptions and 42% use it to measure health and fitness. The same study showed that back in 2018 out of the people who attended a virtual meeting, only a third felt like they received the information they were looking for.

You may think at first that only the younger generation is going to want to see the healthcare system turn virtual but in the same study, it showed that the senior age group were also interested in using technology for future health care.

Can you reach all age groups?

Agreed people use online systems more for shopping and banking than they do for healthcare but there are still consumers who would be interested in broadening their virtual experience. Healthcare is not straightforward, and you cannot give a fast diagnosis but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the systems easy to use and understand.

The Smartwatch is an upcoming digital product that has become very common to see, the product is a virtual way for consumers to monitoring their health, such as heart rate, blood pressure and other things.

As we know millennials account for a large portion of the population and are more likely to use technology. The graph below is showing results from a study carried out by Deloitte, as you can see it’s clear more millennials are active in every area, but if we look specifically at refilling a prescription a massive 47% of seniors are using online systems to get a prescription.

 
Use of technology in relation to the generation.PNG
 

A study by Mckinsey in February of 2020 showed that nearly half of the people aged over 50 would look to virtual channels of care along with or instead of physical visits. Accessing healthcare from home is easy, you don’t need a means of travel you just need an internet connection which is very rare for someone not to have in this day and age.

Could COVID-19 affect the speed of growth?

The healthcare system has been thinking about virtual health for more than ten years, but it has been slow to adopt to the digital side of things. COVID-19 may be the kick the healthcare system needed.

Due to COVID-19, we have not had much of a choice but to quickly adapt to a new way of thinking and working. The current pandemic has opened consumers up to a new way of thinking, they are more willing to adapt and if you can offer better value than previous through a virtual experience you are guaranteed to make loyal and returning customers.

What issues are healthcare system facing?

More patients

There are many patients in the US that have a chronic disease, and these numbers are only expected to rise. Demand is already very high and the ability to supply all the service that is required is already stretched to its limits. If patient numbers continue to rise there will be a struggle to meet demand.

Rising cost and stress

Patients with chronic disease require a lot of treatment and a lot of time. If a patient has a chronic disease, they are required to attend multiple meetings it would be much easier for them if they did not have to travel into the hospital all the time for every meeting. Some of these follow-ups could be moved over to a virtual platform but understandably not all of them.

Positives and negatives to a virtual healthcare system

There are many pros and cons to anything new and it is important to know how well something could work, and arguably more important is to know what can go wrong and how severe an effect those negatives might have on the outcome.

Positives

On hand assistance

Due to COVID-19, the isolation of patients before treatment has never been more important, but a patients illness isn’t always going to wait for your COVId-19 test to be negative. Some hospitals have been using small rooms with noisy extractors to isolate patients while they wait for results. These rooms are equipped with top of the range cameras that will allow support nurses to virtually join a difficult situation and assist the doctors and nurses in the scene.

This is extremely helpful because the outsourced doctor/nurse isn’t dealing with the stress of the situation or the loud noise of the extractor or even the cramped tight space. This freedom means they might be able to spot things that other professionals in the situation can’t see.

Convenience

Virtual Health could be very convenient for consumers. Your patient may have back-to-back meetings all day and only a small period of time. If there was no virtual system they might put of seeing a professional until the situation becomes unbearable and inevitably ends up costing a lot more.

 

No waiting around

Less waiting around, consumers are used to sitting in a waiting room for hours it is expected to go past your allotted time and be waiting around, implementing digital systems will alleviate the stresses and you will have fewer patients waiting around for long periods of time. meaning they are less likely to put off visits that might have ended up being much more severe if left untreated.

Efficiency

An in-person visit will cost a lot more than a virtual one. In America, sectors are charging less for Telemedicine visits than they would for an in-person visit. People are likely to want to try it because they do not have to travel all over the place to get to access key health services.

 

Improved communication

At the moment the relationship between patients and medical professional is almost non-existent, virtual will give patients the opportunity to become more in tune with their doctors. For example, if they chose too they could have MRIs and X-rays sent to other professionals for second opinions without the long process in between.

 

Confidentiality

Confidentiality has always been massively important in the healthcare system and still is even with the prospect of new virtual technology. Patient and doctor confidentiality can still be in force. Telemedicine complies with HIPAA laws meaning that all information is still protected and confidential.

 

Negatives

Electronic glitches

Bad weather conditions or poor internet can prevent you from getting good services as you will be limited. If the weather is too bad you may not be able to get any signal, and your meeting will no longer be able to take place.

 

Physician resistance

Healthcare has been behind virtually for a long time and it is going to take physicians time to learn how to operate the new technology - with the healthcare system already being stretched for resources it will be difficult to find time to train new skills.

Inadequate assessment

While virtual visits are a great leap forward, they do have their limitations, you can’t physically touch the patient or get a personal insight this might mean that some things slip through the cracks and get missed.

How has telemedicine been embraced during the pandemic?

Due to the pandemic, the healthcare system is doing lots of things virtually but the real question is whether or not these procedures will stay in place after the pandemic. China was the first during the pandemic to suggest seeking advice online opposed to in person. For the first time, physicians have really embraced virtual healthcare and due to this new way of working physicians have been able to see a much larger number of cases.

During the pandemic, systems were implemented where you can use interactive apps with audio and video to visit clinicians for a wide range of services. This was implemented to keep as many people safe and at home as possible.

The speed at which the healthcare system is changing, and adapting is unseen but necessary due to the current global pandemic. The risk of COVID-19 has given everyone that motivation to keep people protected and do what needed to be done.

Capability

The equipment needed to provide the services aren’t just lying around and that has been a massive difficulty with the pandemic hitting so hard, demand for supply has increased tenfold, the systems required weren’t in place before the pandemic and there simply isn’t enough to go around when all the hospitals need to implement these new systems all at the same time.

Not all visits will be transferrable to a virtual system there will be occasions where you actually need to touch your patient and take readings, these things aren’t optional over a virtual call so in-person visits will still be needed.

How to provide good service?

COVID-19 means we need to start talking to patients online, this isn’t a concern but as it’s a new system you need to make the patients as comfortable as they possibly can be which means the service provided needs to be as good as it possibly can be.

 

Look after your customers

The healthcare industry is all about looking after your patients and making sure they are healthy. It is helpful to remember that patients are in fact customers, make sure they are comfortable, and they will come back, patients who return when they have another issue have proven they trust you.

 

Be Respectful

Patients won’t always understand what they are being told straight away so it is important to take your time with them and be respectful. It is important to be focused on and concerned about every individual patient.

 

Everyone is to be treated equally

Nobody likes everyone you can’t guarantee you will like everyone you meet but you can’t make that apparent when you are working in healthcare. Even if their condition is not life-threatening this does not mean their issue isn’t important – you need to be trying to make sure every patient feels like they are important. The last thing you want is patients feeling like they are an inconvenience or a bother.

 

Try not to preach

Sometimes a patient will come in with incorrect information or with google being at our fingertips they may have even diagnosed themselves incorrectly before they get to you, try to avoid telling your patient they are wrong. If there is a difference of opinion the best approach is to explain why you have reached your conclusion.

 

Don’t overcomplicate

You don’t want your patient feeling incompetent, and we don’t want them to misunderstand their condition or the information they have been given. It is good to ask your patient to repeat what you have told them to make sure they understand try to give brief and direct explanations.

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