Published by William Mosseri-Marlio on 26 May 2016
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26 May 2016
While recent research indicates that doctors and patients agree digital is great for patient engagement, when we delve deeper it reveals that the plethora of different digital media also creates confusion, a sentiment echoed in conversations I’ve had with practitioners.
Accenture’s Patient Engagement Survey 2016 reveals a surge in adoption of digital-health technology, with the number of patients using social media or wearables for health trebling in some countries.
However it’s also revealed some paradoxes:
It may just be the different media – providing valuable new information also creates a flood of raw, unfiltered data, with no link to recommended actions. Interpretation falls to patients, who struggle to fully understand it, and drives them to consult their doctors who are also unprepared for this new task of guiding patients through a tsunami of data.
Some doctors are worried about patients consulting them about specific device readings or information viewed in isolation when there are questions regarding the product’s quality – how many are medical grade devices? Even if readings are not false, in the absence of filtering or decision support, patients may visit doctors unnecessarily.
To help resolve these paradoxes, I believe three approaches can help the healthcare industry penetrate the data flood:
The accelerating spread of wearables and other digital patient tools represents a fantastic opportunity for patient engagement and ownership of their health and wellbeing, but we cannot simply assume that ‘benefits will flow’.
Other sectors, including retailers, banks and media innovators haven’t just created websites and apps loaded with content – they have designed ‘omnichannel’ models, mindful of avoiding gaps between the online and physical, to create seamless experiences. They have enriched their offerings with analytics-enabled insights, helping the consumer navigate through content, products and services.
My conversations with healthcare practitioners have also revealed concerns about how to overcome these issues – the potentially helpful prescription of digital technologies and the unintended side-effects, creating some confusion juxtaposed with empowerment and insight.
To resolve this and fully empower patients and doctors, I believe we need to draw on the experience of sectors who have effectively implemented advanced customer strategies, and apply the same approaches to digital-patient enablement.
I’d love to hear others’ thoughts and experiences on this question.
David Champeaux is Managing Director of Healthcare Strategy at Accenture UK.
A version of this blog has been posted on Accenture.com