This is a re-post from The Mobcon Digital Health blog. Novu CEO Tom Wicka will be presenting on this topic on April 8.
I am not alone in thinking that telehealth offers tremendous opportunities to better connect the healthcare system and the patient. According to American Well, 64 percent of Americans would be willing to see a doctor via video, and 76 percent of patients prioritize access to care over the need for human interaction with their providers, an AHA report points out.
Based on the proliferation of mobile devices and the “always on” consumer, telehealth underscores an important pivot point for health care to build lasting relationships and new brands in the eyes of consumers. As an industry, we have been very good at doing things to consumers, but not very good at doing things with them.
However, what is currently on many product roadmaps in hospitals and health systems across the country draws on the traditional, episodic relationships that consumers and the health ecosystem have been built on. If we look at the way consumer banking has evolved, for example, we see that consumers want to interact when and how they want via mobile device. Brands and promotions have shifted to messages that support convenience, access and financial independence. I don’t remember the last time I went into a bank, to be honest. And this anecdote has many implications for health care, and the telehealth category specifically.
If telehealth is to succeed as an innovation, we need to evolve our relationship with the patient and think about the technologies and strategies in a way that encourages a symbiotic relationship. Meet the consumer where they are with the tools they expect. Give patients the tools they need to manage their care, but also deliver on an experience that meets today’s consumer expectation: rewards, personalization, gamification, device integration and other consumer levers. Telehealth, with its direct connection to the devices consumers use most, offers a substantial opportunity to create useful, meaningful tools that catalyze digital relationships and encourage the development of health brands that consumers seek out – and not just when they are sick.
Health care will be unable to avoid consumer demand for online services that have already impacted and evolved other industries such as banking and retail. Those organizations that don’t embrace this need to deliver on consumer expectation risk being left behind as telehealth grows. The scale and demand that a shift to telehealth produces will create or define new brands based on access, service and convenience. In this scenario, large health systems would potentially compete for patients across the nation and regional systems will have to redefine themselves in terms of what they offer patients. As such, the need to create a relationship with consumers, and cement brands in relation to how they partner with consumers, has never been more critical.
The strength of our health system, especially the telehealth category, depends on meeting the patient where they are with the tools they expect and developing a symbiotic partnership to accomplish our shared goals. Telehealth is the vehicle to do just that. But, as we build this vehicle, we must recognize that the patient of today is not the patient of yesteryear and we need to evolve our brands and relationships to secure the goals we are reaching for today and beyond.