Expanding Levels of Choice
In today’s technology-enabled society, consumers are demanding new approaches to how they get their healthcare services. As the flow of information continues to accelerate, they discover an increasing number of choices when it comes to accessing healthcare services.
Healthcare consumers are demanding primary and even specialty care services that are physically located close to home and work for when a visit to the doctor is required. But more than that, consumers are looking for providers that provide increasing digital access (such as secure email, Skype sessions, etc.), and have extended hours on nights and weekends. In a society where the purchase of even a modest item for the home is more likely to involve logging in to Amazon than a trip to the store, consumers want their healthcare services to leverage technology to provide the same level of convenience within their over scheduled lifestyle.
Who Is In Control?
People today want more information as they manage their own health. When something is wrong, they want access to different team members, depending on the nature of the issue. They want guidance from a trusted provider, but they want a level of control once they are presented with options. Consumers want access to quality, curated online information and resources so that they can better understand symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment options…and studies show that compliance with treatment programs or lifestyle changes improves as this patient engagement increases.
Some organizations are experimenting with sharing electronic health records with the patient, including the provider’s notes. While initially a daunting idea not widely embraced by healthcare professionals, early results are encouraging and it is likely that we will see this expanding as technology and information security concerns are addressed. This idea alone shifts the focus of health management from the provider to the patient.
Lastly, the cost of healthcare is being borne by the patient in ever-increasing proportions, and consumers are beginning to demand more information up front regarding the likely cost of a procedure or treatment regime. This trend will only accelerate as the marketplace becomes more competitive and consumers become more informed.
A generation ago, none of this would have been on our radar or even remotely practical. But with today’s wired world, information is just a touch-screen away in our pocket or purse.