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Beyond Hospital Walls: Providing Innovative Care Through Digital Experiences

It was a moment of embarrassment. “How long has it been since you had your last eye exam?” “Eleven years,” I sheepishly replied, feeling like a child who just got caught lying about my homework. This exact moment is all too common for medical practitioners; realizing that a patient has put themselves at risk because they have waited too long for care. And I, the patient, knowing I should not have waited so long between appointments, am not unique. Most people know what their doctors want them to do, but fail to follow medical protocol because of hurdles to make care a priority. Life gets in the way. They are too busy with work, or they need to spend money elsewhere. Or they just don’t feel sick enough to create a sense of urgency to pursue treatment. In this case, the doctor’s hands are tied. Unless the patient makes the effort to make, keep, and pay for the visit, the doctor has no insight into the patient’s care needs—until now.

The next step in healthcare innovation is leveraging digital systems to provide care in ways that lower the barriers for patients so providers can be more effective.

What if the doctor could do more than just remind his patient to come in for an appointment? What if the doctor could receive a steady stream of information on his patient’s well being, alerting the patient when something is wrong in time to fix it; long before it threatens his health? What if the patient had access to talk to a nurse or doctor without leaving home? Thanks to technology, now patients can. Over the past decade, the cost of smartphones has gone down, the wireless connectivity of medical devices for home has gone up, and health providers across the U.S. have upgraded their paper systems to a new digital footprint, including Tenet Health here in Dallas-Fort Worth. The next step in healthcare innovation is leveraging digital systems to provide care in ways that lowers the barriers for patients so providers can be more effective. Hospitals have implemented digital experiences, which are starting to augment and enhance health services in the following ways:

  • Virtual visits between patients and practitioners;
  • Medical devices that integrate with smartphones to automatically collect and transmit patient medical readings;
  • Educational content pushed to patients based on their current medical state;
  • Early intervention for depression based on algorithms for patient behavior on social media;
  • Pediatric monitoring devices that alert parents if a child is feverish and needs professional medical attention;
  • Home diagnostic kits that allow patients to transmit data to a lab and receive diagnosis in hours, not days or weeks;
  • In-home wound care monitoring leveraging high-resolution smartphone cameras and apps to document and track healing.

 

Knowing where to start innovating is a daunting task for any healthcare system, but there are a few key ways to figure out where digital experiences can help most.

Evaluate your patient population.

Take a long hard look at your financials and look at the areas of care that are costing your system the most. Perhaps you have a diabetic patient population that uses your ER frequently when they could be better served through a remote patient monitoring program. This not only helps save money, but also provides more effective and timely care for patients by partnering with them to manage their health.

Identify areas of excellence.

In order to stay on the cutting edge of care, it is important to continually innovate around care delivery. Are you known for your cardiology department? Talk to your practitioners and find out what information they miss out on once the patient has left the facility. Sometimes, providing the best care is as simple as sending the patient home with a scale that transmits the patient’s daily weight, alerting the provider if there has been a sudden weight gain.

Differentiate yourself from your competition.

Leveraging technology to provide better care creates a better experience for the patient. Not only is it easier for them to receive care, it creates trust that they matter. Patient word of mouth has become increasingly more powerful as patients communicate good and bad experiences online. Creating more patient-friendly experiences will bolster the trust patients have for your brand, who ultimately open the door for other patients through positive online reviews.

As a provider, your goal is to provide the best care possible.

As a provider, your goal is to provide the best care possible.

Ultimately, providing innovative care through digital experience is all about connecting the technology dots. As a provider, your goal is to provide the best care possible. It’s possible today to remove barriers to seeking and receiving care that have plagued patients in the past. Using technology to create a more usable, patient-friendly care model will not only help tackle continuum of care standards, but also ultimately lead to more effective population health management as you grow and mature your digital reach.


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