Patient demands shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic have pushed hospital systems into the digital age. In March 2020, the world changed overnight, and now a consumer-centric model for healthcare could guide those systems to better understand their patients and to anticipate and meet customer needs while offering transparency.
Salesforce Executive Medical Director Geeta Nayyar, M.D., M.B.A., discussed consumerism and digital health with HIMSS Senior Vice President of Enterprise Marketing and Communications Terri Sanders during the W2O Digital Health Virtual Summit.
Their fireside chat, Delivering Amazon-Like Experiences for Health Care, covered how health systems can face today’s challenges while developing relationships with patients and offering a complement of digital and in-person services.
Nayyar said the first step to creating a hybrid experience is introspection, assessing a hospital system’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats with consideration for the current dynamic environment and growing consumer expectations. Assessment will help inform the best areas for investment.
Sanders pointed out that healthcare costs in America are a major driver in individual and household debt, and some might think investments would increase those costs. She asked, what are we actually seeing in response to the transition to a more digital-forward consumer-forward health experience?
To achieve the best clinical outcomes, physicians want a partnership with their patients, Nayyar said. Patients have better outcomes when they are engaged, so those relationships are a great place for investment. She said cost in healthcare systems is driven by chronic disease, fraud, waste and abuse, but those areas could be remedied by better data infrastructure and technology. Investment in infrastructure around data, interoperability, sharing and meeting a consumer where they are is key, and can drive costs down.
Consumerism has been a driver of success in nearly every other industry, Sanders said, and it is just now touching healthcare. Will patients have that same positive response to consumerization?
Consumers, customers and patients want access, Nayyar said, and her patients want access to her services. Data supports positive feedback on both the clinical and consumer sides. People will appreciate the safety and convenience of digital health.
Other important changes that have been implemented over the course of the pandemic include telehealth and home monitoring investments, the retailization of healthcare, and employee engagement and staff management with frontline healthcare workers.
Health systems are at a crossroads—they are facing financial and resource limitations, while consumers are looking for more personalized care. The digitally enabled health system of the future focuses on health and wellness, and is the key to connecting consumers to health systems that will have a transformational impact on care delivery and quality.