2019 Bigger Year for Consumers and Online Healthcare

2018 was a year when India transformed into becoming the Digital India and accepted the technological reforms that came there way, specifically talking about the acceptance of the e commerce industry. 

2018 has been the beginning era of consumerism and the smart phones have been a major reason of this change. It has paved way for a direct to consumer (DTC) marketing technique and consumers appreciate the value of experience over product and look forward to more personalized user experience.

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The healthcare sector also is affected by the same wave and is mostly driven by patient needs and desires. Presently, patients are burdened under the cost of high premiums and expensive health plans. Due to this the healthcare marketplace is evolving and placed the patients as consumers today.

But innovations in the field of healthcare are different from the DTC technology. It is all about improving the relationship between the provider and the patient, the concept of removing the middle man from the picture does not prevail in the healthcare sector. It is a direct relationship between the patient and the healthcare specialist or the service provider. Moreover, the healthcare sector comes with an entirely different set of challenges, as the consumer health is the product and patient’s well being is of utmost importance.

Another additional concern is about the data security and patient privacy. Any successful digital innovation requires vast consumer data, which is a serious security concern to one’s privacy and with the escalation in tech innovations it has become difficult to regulate so many platforms.

With the technological advancements, the healthcare industry is resolving these concerns and shall continue to grow and innovate in the years to come. Here are some things that you shall see in 2019-

Patient Engagement

“Patient engagement” is the prime idea of all healthcare apps and digital health platforms and by patient engagement it implies to a long term association and not a mere download of the app. In the current times where consumers are the king, patient engagement is rather important and there have been rumors that Amazon will leverage data it has captured from its 100 million+ users to launch Prime Health. In a recent survey by SERMO it was found that three quarters of doctor participants linked enhanced patient engagement with the app or other tools. It was also observed that 95% of participants were familiar with such digital platforms as their offices also had such tools.  And it must be pointed out that for the doctors it is indeed an interesting number to achieve, since they are very apprehensive to adapt to new innovations.

Patient engagement largely relies on various clinical concerns including mechanization, smooth workflow and stipulation of actionable data. For a successful engagement policy, it has to be persistent and sustainable.

Mobile Health Devices

Mobile health devices have launched itself very strategically in the healthcare market. They have rapidly overtaken both the clinical and operational spaces. This has been promoted by the government with their recognition of mHealth and telehealth technology like three fresh CPT codes for repayment of distant patient monitoring in the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment program. Mobile technology is old now, there have been several innovations in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).

Conversational User Interface (UI)

Conversational UI has gradually upgraded the  Natural Language processing (NLP) abilities that can recognize a speaker’s intention and these are being positioned  for extensive adoption. It is time saving as the smart assistant Notable can ease the searching of documents, conducting phone calls or inserting info into a mobile app. It is also convenient to use as it is Hands-free and comes with a voice-activated interface. Further through NLP, it can potentially be trained to predict needs of a doctor or patient.

The patients can have a conversation with a chatbot and make appointments, receive medical advice and get an easy access to professional medical advice. It saves time and also eliminate the tedious task of seeing a doctor. Some real life examples of these are Chatbots like Buoy and Babylon.

Conversational UI is a very helpful tool in the field of mental healthcare. The virtual cognitive behavioral therapy can be conducted while preserving anonymity as is being done by Woebot. This technique has been very successful in solving anxiety issues.

API Economy

2017 was termed as the “year of the API economy,” by Forbes and healthcare is also intervening and exploring the same prospects.

Interoperability is the key in digital tech improvement: the basis of a fruitful service is a secure data exchange. Standardized APIs are capable of providing the technological grounds for data sharing, broaden the functionality of EHRs and other technical advancements that maintain connected care. It is through interoperability that the data can be summarized across multiple providers.

A complete access to Electronic Health Records for both the patients and providers is necessary to promote value based trust and care,, It gives the patient a clear picture of one’s health profile and thus one can focus on positive health outcomes.  Apple and Google are providing their health kits to the developers and hence 2019 will paint an entirely different picture for the healthcare industry.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT gives the healthcare specialists and the patients with the ability to examine and receive heath related advices without an actual need to be there in the same physical space. This has also opened gates to various opportunities of delivering healthcare to people that cannot access medical facilities nearby. It enables effective analysis and intervention without the need of visiting offices. In the past few years the IoT devices have gone vast expansion and thus are proving effective to many.

It was in 2017 that the first FDA regulated “smart pill” was launched in the market. Smart pills are ingested like any other regular pill and are additionally prepared with monitoring technology that transmits information back to the sensor worm on the body. This helps in regulating dosage and in keeping a check on the internal reactions.

 In the near future we shall also see wearable RPMs that offer a non-invasive substitute to managing care—such as the connected contact lens envisioned by Google and Novartis that observes a diabetic patient’s glucose level by examining their tears.

These new inventions may seem very beneficial but yet have not been fully approved by many healthcare communities. For example the electrocardiogram feature of the Apple Watch, is supported by the president of the American Heart Association, but it ignores the recommendations of the US Preventative Task Force.

Blockchain

After Bitcoin, the Blockchain is all set to transform the healthcare industry. It has huge potential in the healthcare sector. It shall provide a secure gateway for issues related to data integrity and consent management.  

With the rapid development of latest and efficient healthcare record structure, wearable equipments, and medical examination systems applying artificial intelligence, cryptography shall become a significant part of the hospital’s  working mechanism. 

The year to come shall be a year of endless innovations in the field of healthcare, thereby transforming the healthcare industry.

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