By Ruben Ugarte
Countless articles take aim at the pandemic’s many negatives: mental health challenges, financial difficulties, and uncertainty about the future. However, healthcare practices are undergoing a once-in-a-lifetime transformation, and I got to experience it firsthand.
A few months, I signed up for my first telehealth doctor’s appointment. Before, I had driven for a half hour, sat in the large waiting room for another half hour, and then waited in the examining room for another 10 minutes. After all of this, the doctor spent about 5 minutes answering a few questions and giving me a prescription with some instructions.
Telehealth appointments are revolutionary. I jumped on my computer and connected at the right time. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes — about as convenient as it gets!
With today’s available technology, healthcare practices have five opportunities that cannot be ignored — and data plays a crucial role in each one.
1. Remote healthcare to assist patients. Telehealth finally went mainstream, and the consensus is that it’s a valuable alternative. A large portion of medical appointments don’t require in-person contact. The key for the future is to keep making telehealth better.
Healthcare companies should think about providing personalized experiences. Make files accessible to patients and allow them to keep track of visits and recommendations. Provide reminders on the next steps. All of this requires good data tracking to execute flawlessly.
2. Seamless switching between the doctor’s office and online. Doctors’ offices won’t go away, but consumers will expect a seamless transition between online and offline services. The idea isn’t new — retailers have been working on delivering the same concept for years.
Make it easy for patients to book appointments in-person or online and for information to flow freely between them. Patients should be able to see what happened in either mode and access everything from a single location. Think about creating mobile-friendly experiences instead of the outdated web-only experiences that consumers are stuck with right now.
3. Proactive health consultations. Physicians’ services have historically been reactive in nature. I get sick, and I then visit the doctor. As physicians’ offices track more data about patients and make that data useful, they can explore more proactive outreach.
Types of outreach can involve sending notifications on annual checkups, checking in on medicine side effects, and offering other services that could complement the patient. Help patients understand what else they could be doing to improve their health. They say the best defense is a good offense, and healthcare companies can help change the paradigm.
4. Concierge physicians willing to make visits out of the office. Once upon a time milk was delivered to our doors. The brought-to-your-door idea is making a comeback, and physicians should explore a similar concept. Some swath of consumers will want their physicians to visit them in-person or at the office.
Concierge doctors who cater to the patients’ schedules and needs will be highly in demand. Once again, data will make it easier for physicians to work on the go, either from their laptops or mobile devices.
5. Leverage consumer technology. Consumers are now surrounded by health technology. Apple Watches can track sleep, count steps, and even register heart rate. Find ways to tap into all of this technology to help provide proactive solutions. Catch issues before they become serious and make it easier for consumers to stay on top of their health.
Don’t create new devices when consumers are already walking around with them on their wrists. The key will be taking advantage of integrations, APIs, and new data to deliver a modern healthcare experience.
The future of medicine is incredibly bright. On the one hand, it’s a return to the past with house calls and concierge doctors. On the other hand, new ways of treating patients will become available as data and technology are fully harnessed.
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Ruben Ugarte is founder of Practico Analytics, providing expertise in data analytics. He has worked with companies on five continents and in all company stages, helping them to use data to make higher quality decisions, boost performance, increase profitability and make their teams world-class. He maintains a popular blog with more than 100,000 readers. His new book is The Data Mirage: Why Companies Fail to Actually Use Their Data (Business Expert Press, January 22, 2021. Learn more at rubenugarte.com.
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