Disrupting the healthcare status quo with digital engagement

By Rikin Patel

Disruption is occurring across industries — from retail to entertainment, travel and healthcare. How each industry, as well as each organization, responds to disruptive influences will determine its success.

Several disruptive technologies have the potential to reinvent, or at least reinvigorate, the way industries operate. Among these are: devices and sensors and ways in which the business connects to them; the adoption of cloud technologies to deliver solutions and services; analytics capabilities to drive new ways of interacting with and leveraging data and knowledge; and the way consumers or citizens interact with systems of engagement such as social media.

When it comes to healthcare, patients or citizens today have become empowered, connected and knowledgeable. They want to be kept informed and they are turning to social media to learn more about their conditions, their treatment and their options. And, increasingly, they are growing impatient with healthcare organizations that don’t engage with them in the way they wish or expect.

Digitizing the engagement is less about tools than it is about a digital strategy that leads to effective use of tools, tactics and techniques to deliver a better outcome made possible by the patient having had a better experience. For example, a newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patient will likely have many questions about his or her condition, treatment and prognosis. How such patients seek to interact with clinicians and the way healthcare providers engage with patients is important to how well they manage their condition. Digital engagement might include text reminders on appointments and medication, the use of devices and sensors to determine the patient’s well-being, and connecting with patients through digital channels to manage emotional issues.

Typically, digitizing the engagement has been portal-based, but given that multichannel capabilities, mobility, social media integration and virtual care are the future, the question is why aren’t more healthcare organizations embracing disruptive technologies? After all, if chatbots can allow individuals to trade shares and execute financial transactions, surely they can play a role in how members engage with their healthcare organization?

Learning from other industries

Healthcare tends to be slower to adopt disruptive technologies and approaches, but providers, payers and state and federal organizations can leverage what has been tried and tested elsewhere to improve engagement and outcomes. For example, the healthcare field can learn from consumer-centric industries about how to get the most value through a shift to digital. This might include using digital IDs to validate coverage and benefit or adopting digital visit verification to log all data about a patient encounter (date, time, location, tests, services, etc.) or using a digital platform to support virtual care, gather data from sensors and respond to patient questions.

Disruption shouldn’t mean added complexity, and organizations can leverage digital platforms to simplify the engagement with patients and providers by integrating data intelligence within systems to improve services. This is possible when discrete and value chain touchpoints are digitized.

There are many ways in which healthcare can use digital channels to engage members, including:

  • Embracing digital interaction with follow-ups to improve engagement
  • Adopting digital automated appointment and medication alerts with acknowledgments for plan or prescription adherence
  • Encouraging “self-service” interactions to allow members to actively engage in their health plan
  • Shifting from transactional interactions to wellness enabled by analytics
  • Interfacing with external case management systems to provide comprehensive health treatment for a member
  • Targeting information that is most relevant to members, based on their overall health data
  • Providing visibility to members with location-based services such as visit verification

Digital disruption can appear daunting for healthcare organizations, but ultimately it will help to improve members’ engagement and their medical outcomes.

Rikin Patel is a DXC Technologist with 25 years of diverse experience in Information Technology.  He serves as the Chief Technologist for DXC’s Americas Healthcare & Life Sciences and is a member of the Office of the CTO. Rikin is responsible for building key client relationships, advising senior leadership on technology trends, and providing thought leadership to effectively grow client and DXC business.




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  1. I think the earlier blog about 3 digital truths — 1) The consumer is already digital and will define the next move. 2) Platforms disrupt value chains. and 3) Winners exploit platform effects — are right, and also feel that this blog does a good job of moving the story forward in terms of the already-digital consumer. With fitness trackers, people are already tracking different health-related data points — steps taken, active minutes, amount of sleep, a heart rate. But one problem is that there is no central way of handling it. Fitbit has a rudimentary food tracker (others are better) and some scales connect to it but it’s hard to share that data with your doctor, for example. So what we need is more connectivity so that consumers can do more with the data they can collect about themselves. While others are talking about CRISPR, this article does a good job providing insight into what informed consumers want.

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