VP Digital Health Marketing at Itamar-Medical | Digital Health Expert | Business Growth Mentor | mHealth Israel | G-CMO
Many people are talking about patient experience, but what does it really mean? What’s the right way to look at it?
It’s been said that Covid-19 triggered an at-home digital revolution. The on-demand economy is doing well, including health services delivered to peoples’ homes. And yet, consumers are not ready to compromise on a personalized clinician-patient relationship.
The responsibility to deliver patient experience is, first and foremost, a concern for providers, physicians and therapists. How to deliver a better experience means more than simply offering a digital appointment or virtual call. In times when everyone is discussing how to deliver patient-centric solutions, let’s think about how medical technology (medtech) can be curated to improve the experience between health professionals and their patients and facilitate the implementation of evidence-based personalization.
Patient Experience Or Patient Pathway?
As discussed in my previous article, there are two users in health: the doctors and the patients (or the providers and the consumers). This discussion becomes more complex as a code-name provider includes so many stakeholders: physicians, therapists, technical team members and so on. The point being, it is not only a consumer-patient experience concern.
Patients are often loyal to their doctors. It has been discussed that “empathetic communication is associated with improved patient satisfaction, increased adherence to treatment, and fewer malpractice complaints.”
Health is not mathematics. Personalization relies on the judgment of health professionals in regard to relevant medical interventions, therapies and medication management.
How can providers impact and curate tech to pave the way to personalization? How can tech support excellent interactions, based on accurate data, between health professionals and their patients?
As an article by Mckinsey states, “digital health opens up new opportunities for medtech companies along the entire patient pathway, from primary prevention and screening through diagnosis and staging to treatment and the subsequent management of a condition. Capturing such opportunities depends on understanding where the pain points lie for patients, physicians, providers, and payers and how digital health solutions might address them.”
Chronic Disease Management
A growing market, and recurring business, chronic diseases account for nearly three-fourths of all deaths worldwide. Largely discussed, the “holy grail” of medicine is to balance the already sick population, prevent exacerbation to the borderline population and educate healthy individuals; the ultimate goal being a marathon shift in health systems from curing the sick to delivering preventative health management.
Following this aspiration, the old cliché remains: How do we deliver the right treatment to the right patients at the right time, cost-effectively and with sustainable clinical outcomes?
It will take time. We are still living in the era of isolated products and fragmented solutions, but recent mergers and acquisitions show the maturity of a new direction toward building multi-disease portfolios that are connected to multiple devices and multiple providers, offering seamless services, covered by reimbursement.
Let us make no mistakes — the challenge is not a lack of technology, but rather market access and education. Code-name providers are complex organizational structures that will require proven clinical evidence, regulation clearance and accepted health economics, as well as IT integration, staff training and overall organizational changes in culture and services. As McKinsey worded it, tech needs to start thinking “patient pathway back” not “product forward.”
Deliver The Dream
To impact a new health culture, tech should be addressing all the pains and concerns of patients, providers, physicians and payers.
Let’s run a small, hypothetical journey simulation for the sake of example:
Meet Mary, a 52-year-old female. She suffers from poor sleep, low back pain and digestion troubles. She is anxious, has been seeking the care of a psychiatrist and taking medication for a while. She had gestational diabetes, and her sugar measurements are again not balanced. Mary’s wish is to visit Dr. T (her family doctor) and start a treatment program that allows her to keep working, be with her granddaughter and practice yoga twice a week. She wants to get relevant insights on food, exercise and sleep, based on her needs and routines. She agrees to share her app diary data with her family doctor and expects easy access to an endocrinologist, nutritionist and physical therapist online. She would also prefer to stop taking medication and receive remote emotional support.
Now, let’s meet Dr. T (the family doctor). He would like to have a modular, customizable remote patient monitoring (RPM) system so that he can assign treatment programs and relevant physicians, according to accepted medical protocols. This type of system would be based on the cloud, with centralized data and co-shared among physicians. Loops could be closed within minutes and programs delivered to patients on apps. More importantly, the system would be fully integrated within his clinic’s network, follow clinical guidelines and be covered by insurance companies.
To fully deliver the dream of interactive care management outside the hospital walls, the tech companies’ challenge goes beyond personalization, remote tools, communication channels and data solutions. Product and tech leaders will need to reverse engineer the provider-to-patient pathway, in partnership with the medical community. In my opinion, there is a huge opportunity in exploring the intersection of medical devices and digital solutions, redesigning the patient pathway from diagnostics to therapy, ensuring results are analyzed by doctors, treatment is prescribed in a timely manner and compliance is on track.
Better Patient Engagement And Clinical Sustainability
Patients are loyal to doctors, not apps.
The right discussion is how to facilitate doctors’ practices with cloud-based management tools, connected devices, connected therapists and communication channels to deliver meaningful provider/physician/therapist-to-patient experiences. Fragmented solutions won’t cut it to deliver value-based care and efficient patient pathways.
There are no shortcuts. We need more digital therapeutics (DTx) solutions covered and paid for within traditional reimbursement models. We need medical task forces discussing DTx solutions and providing clear guidance to certify their usage. We need to be training physicians, therapists and technical teams. We need interoperability in place and cost-efficient methods, under doctors’ supervision, to manage RPM with assisted platforms.
It’s not a dream anymore — it has started. Tech companies that are working with the medical community and the provider side have an advantage in this ride. Patient-centered health, medical devices and digital care pathways at a click of a button, here we come!