Digital Patient Experience Matters
Healthcare is moving away from the traditional paternalistic, disease-driven model towards more patient-centric care which places greater emphasis on shared decision making and patient preference, putting patient’s values at the heart of clinical decision making. Patient-centric care is linked to benefits such as better treatment adherence, fewer hospital visits, and improved health outcomes.
Increasingly, healthcare users in the US want to go a step further by taking the lead in their own treatment decisions, a phenomenon known as healthcare consumerism. People are seeking personalized care that is accessible in a convenient way.
The digital health tools that are increasingly implemented at various touch points along the patient journey can help people to play a more active role in their own wellbeing, an empowering shift away from the traditional product-based style of healthcare.
Expectations Are High
Patients are the most important stakeholder in digital healthcare, and their expectations are a dominant force driving the market. In a world where we are surrounded by technology, today’s informed patients expect to have health information at the touch of a button, something which helps them to feel in control.
One such example is medical wearables, where the uptake of fitness trackers and monitoring devices is on the rise. These devices now go far beyond the standard fitness metrics, and through ever evolving technology some can even detect seizures or strokes.
Digital Health and the Patient Journey Are Evolving
Telemedicine, or remote consultation, has been widely adopted in recent times, facilitating timely and convenient access to healthcare providers. As technology advances and healthcare enters the metaverse, simple web- or telephone-based calls could be replaced by virtual reality (VR) consultations where avatars of patients and doctors can meet in a realistic setting.
VR is also gaining traction in the treatment of pain and anxiety and headsets could soon be commonplace in our hospitals. Evidence suggests it acts as an effective distraction tool for patients in settings such as pediatric hospitals, intensive care units, and as part of palliative care.
There is also scope for digital innovation to improve user experience in hospitals by facilitating a more efficient and cost-effective journey from admission to discharge. Systems for electronic triage and prognostication are available but are not currently widespread.
One model, trialled during the pandemic, used artificial intelligence based on CT images, electronic health records and laboratory data to successfully assess risk at hospital admission and also predict outcomes in COVID-19 patients. Similarly, a neural network model that can predict which surgical inpatients can be discharged from hospital on a given day has been validated. Implementation of similar systems in the future could reduce time spent in hospital for individual patients and help to address ‘bed-blocking’ and its associated costs.