A new normal for digital health?

Hand flipping wooden block cubes for new normal wording. The world is changing to balance it into new normal include business , economy , environment and health.

SUMMARY: According to Harvard Business Review, “digital health solutions and technology will play a crucial role in the difficult work of optimizing processes and systems for greater efficiency, financial viability, and enhanced outcomes. While this is true digital health won’t go anywhere unless there is a renewed effort on the user experience.

With the significant growth of telehealth, we need to understand that telehealth is a component of two broader digital health strategies: ensuring that care is delivered in the right setting and creating a great patient experience through a “digital front door.”

I believe that there are two important issues when it comes to telehealth:

1ne: Can we provide chronic care management through home health services, reducing visits to the physician’s office?

2wo: Will digital health provide better patient outcomes, or hinder open and honest communication between a patient and their physician?

It’s hard to talk to your doctor about certain health issues. Most patients are honest, but that honesty isn’t always comfortable. In fact, almost half of survey respondents said they feel uncomfortable talking to their doctors about their sexual activities. On the other hand, 34% said they were comfortable talking with their doctor about anything while 23% of people admitted they have lied to their doctors, according to a survey by TermLife2Go.

Patients have lied about…

  • 46% lied about smoking.
  • 43% lied about exercise.
  • 38% lied about drinking.
  • 29% lied about their sexual partners.

On the upside, most people (77% of those surveyed) are honest with their doctors.

Why do patients lie? Some 75% of respondents cited embarrassment as the reason. Another 31% said they lie to avoid discrimination, and 22% said they lie because they don’t think their doctor will take them seriously if they tell the truth. Those that lied to avoid discrimination were overwhelmingly female (80% female, 20% male).

Physicians sometimes have to be detectives to get patients to open up about what’s really bothering them. For example, a physician was conducting a second telehealth visit with a woman who complained about lethargy. Only when she convinced the patient to come to the office did she realize that the patient was obese and had died about her weight.

Telehealth does have its challenges but perhaps none is bigger than the actual user experience. The pandemic has increased consumer reliance on digital technologies for many of their daily activities. People work from home glued to Zoom. Groceries arrive from Instacart and Amazon delivers household supplies. Consumers will expect that their digital health experiences will be equally effective and easy to use.

To meet these expectations, health systems will need to double down on their “digital front door” efforts, enabling patients to handle routine interactions such as scheduling an appointment, paying a bill, finding a doctor, renewing a medication, finding answers to health questions, and navigating the health system itself.

Harvard Business Review

This is a hard concept for many to understand unless they view healthcare as a patient and observe first hand the barriers to widespread adoption.

Healthcare systems need the help of digital giants to help ensure that user experiences encourage digital health initiatives. Somehow digital health also needs to be integrated with EHRs that can be accessed by all HCP’s anywhere they are in the country.

Physicians also need to be trained on what to ask patients and how to tell if a patient is truthful or not. The idea of a quick, short visit to ask for a certain Rx may work for some health problems, but it won’t work for all, especially undiagnosed conditions.

It’s actually quite simple. The better the user the user experience the higher the use. Going online to see a doctor is a lot better than taking time to make an appointment and potentially waiting weeks for an appointment.

I’m still concerned about the physician-patient relationship. That bond should be strong to ensure quality healthcare. The more that relationship is stretched, the more difficult it may be to really understand what a patient needs.

While this public health crisis has tragically cost us lives, livelihoods, and our sense of normalcy, we still have the power to shape what comes next if we focus on putting patients ahead of profits.