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How the Healthcare Industry is Catching up with Consumerism Technology

How the Healthcare Industry is Catching up with Consumerism Technology
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2018 by Kent Rausch

As consumers, we want to find the best products with the best value at the best prices in an environment that makes us feel both comfortable and supported.

Healthcare-consumerismIf these necessities are met in the purchasing process, we tend to become loyal consumers of that brand/product. As economist and diplomat John Galbraith remarked “a person buying ordinary products in a supermarket is in touch with his [sic] deepest emotions.”

However, in the age of Amazon, Yelp, and GrubHub, the traditional purchasing process has changed drastically. Now, it’s possible to do things like vet a restaurant before you go. You can read extensive reviews of the restaurant’s environment, food quality, and waitstaff to ensure you’re in store for a wonderful dinner out. Hungry but don’t want to leave the comfort of your home? Use an app to order food from your favorite restaurant for delivery. And, you can even purchase those everyday items you need like toilet paper, dog food, and even cleaning supplies from brands you trust, all with the simple touch of a button.

Let’s be honest, when it comes to buying things like groceries, electronics, clothing, or hygiene products, or going out to dinner, most Americans are enjoying the benefits of consumer technology to make the decisions that ensure all their purchasing needs are met. Brands offer these convenient applications to foster consumer loyalty, driving critical consumer engagement that ultimately serves to align the consumer’s behavior to the organization’s goals.

Just take a look at your phone. You probably have at least half a dozen loyalty or consumer applications like Starbucks, Marriott Rewards, Delta SkyMiles, or Amazon Prime, and the list goes on. Loyalty programs can be used in a variety of ways in consumer applications, but they also have the potential to do great things in the healthcare industry.

For example, loyalty programs offer tremendous data insights into consumer behavior, decision factors, and engagement which can assist providers and payers in their continual quest to deliver more efficient care and improved outcomes. The healthcare industry, which typically has been a laggard in the digitization era, is catching up rapidly when it comes to consumer convenience applications.

Here are some examples of how healthcare is getting in on the game:

  • Telemedicine – Online medical delivery offers consumers a new wave of freedom that can save both time and money. Some 80 percent of doctors already use smartphones and medical apps, with 72 percent accessing drug information via smartphones on a regular basis.
  • Mobility and Cloud Access – 65 percent of patient interactions with health and care facilities occur by mobile devices. Gone are the days of paper charts and file rooms; the storage of consumer medical information is all in the cloud.
  • Wearables and IoT – These devices can now perform ECGs, DIY blood tests, function as a thermometer, measure oxygen levels, and many other services that can interact with your mobile device and provide results to a healthcare provider.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data – These can identify risk patterns, conditional treatments, and deliver results faster that drive prevention.

By leveraging these new technologies, the health industry is removing some of the inconvenience of healthcare like long waits or inaccessibility while creating more consumer empowerment. These technologies enable consumers to have transparency to cost, easier access to doctors, and engagement tools that can support proactive support instead of frustrated, reactive interactions.

With these advances, the healthcare industry is moving in the right direction. But, there’s still significant progress to be made. Healthcare consumerism will become the norm in our lives and can potentially have the largest impact when we start to see the convergence of consumer accounts such as HSA with loyalty programs, mobility, wearables, telemedicine, and AI. The consolidation of these key trends will instill consumer power, ownership, and engagement to drive higher healthcare quality and demand.

Want to learn more about how to harness the power of consumerism?