By Drew Ivan, chief product and strategy officer, Lyniate.
It is becoming increasingly popular to move healthcare outside of the clinic and into the community and the home with the use of telemedicine platforms, apps, and other digital means — and the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically accelerated that trend. Counterintuitively, this healthcare crisis has the potential to attenuate the relationship between the patient and the healthcare system, putting provider organizations at increased risk from “digital disruptors” like Amazon, Google and Apple, whose ambitions to take over consumer relationships in healthcare are stronger than ever.
As patients re-orient during the pandemic around other points of care (hospitals, urgent care, pharmacy, etc.), the relationship patients have with their PCPs (which is one of the health system’s biggest and most meaningful advantages against the advancement of healthcare disruptors), can lose value to the consumer. As such, it behooves health systems — who are understandably all hands on deck working to address the COVID-19 crisis today — to be giving serious consideration to ways of fending off digital disruptors as their big challenge in a post-COVID-19 world.
This means focusing on leveraging the unique strengths and assets they have and getting smart about aggregating and using the disparate consumer/patient data sets they manage, to deliver a consumer experience only they can provide.
Digital disruptors excel at delivering exceptional digital customer experiences by using the massive data sets at their disposal that render rich insights into customer trends, needs, behaviors, preferences, proclivities, etc. With that said, hospitals and health systems have an advantage in their exclusive access to patient data and their in-depth medical knowledge.
Health systems need to thoughtfully but aggressively leverage these advantages if they want to successfully retain primacy in the consumer’s healthcare brand relationships. With non-emergent care rapidly shifting to the digital space, digital brands have a golden opportunity to disrupt the traditional patient-health system relationship should provider organizations miss the opportunity to reinforce those relationships by delivering much more personalized digital interactions.
It’s important to remember that healthcare organizations do not need to match the digital sophistication of the big data-driven consumer tech giants. They just need to use what they already know about patients, communities and medicine to create the kinds of experience for patients that only they can.
As hospital leaders aim to protect their organizations from digital disruptors in the post-coronavirus aftermath, these three considerations should be top of mind:
- When it comes to healthcare, the health systems know much more about the consumer than anyone else — including digital disruptors. They know everything there is to know about a patient’s medical history, i.e. their conditions and current clinical state. They also understand the challenges facing their communities and the medical issues that are impacting the population. Healthcare providers also have access to medical and public health experts in a way that consumer-facing tech giants do not. This is an incredible advantage.
- Healthcare organizations also enjoy a powerful reputation and are trusted subject-matter experts. They have specialized expertise, authority, and the ability to intelligently individualize patient care as a result of the vast knowledge, data, and background they have. Providers are also the most respected authorities when it comes to healthcare, so they can command a level of credibility no digital disruptor can touch.
- To successfully leverage these factors, health systems need to get their data together. They need to be able to take all of the information they have about the individual patient, in the context of the community at large, and in the context of medicine, and then thoughtfully develop about the right messages to send, at any given moment, for any given person. Missing any piece of the puzzle is a critical failure. Even a little miss like offering diabetes services to patient that only has recently elevated blood sugar, expensive electives to a patient that is already on a payment plan for past care, and credibility comes into question.
For health systems to future proof their organizations against the looming threat from digital disruptors, it is imperative for health leaders to leverage tools to help them access, aggregate and act on the data they have to create experiences that move the needle in patient care and experience.
At the moment healthcare providers are consumed with addressing the crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. However, once this situation is behind us, it will be important for healthcare leaders to take proactive measures to ensure providers are better poised to take on other unexpected and catastrophic challenges in the future. Tech-giants will surely be thinking of ways to further infiltrate the healthcare space, so it’s on healthcare organizations and vendors to start thinking of ways to respond to and deflect those efforts.