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Putting right the wrongs of telehealth

Terri Casterton of Bottle Rocket on how personalised tech-enabled care will shape the future of healthcare.



Digital transformation within healthcare has been catalysed by the pandemic. Initially, we saw growth in the use of global electronic health record (EHR) portals, with the market now expected to hit $38 billion by 2025.

By tapping into the useful data and tools that EHRs provide, the healthcare sector has overcome on-going difficulties posed by COVID-19 regulations and continued the delivery of patient care.

Propelled by the purchasing power of patients-turned-consumers and their ease of use, virtual-first health plans have driven the demand for broader virtual health solutions. Between 40 and 60 percent of telehealth consumers have expressed an interest in the expansion of digital health offerings, including “digital front doors” and low-cost virtual-first health plans. The need for personalised digital experiences has become clearer than ever.

Terri Casterton of Bottle Rocket.

However, only 31 per cent of adults between the ages of 18 and 30 are fully satisfied with telehealth care in the US; so where are providers going wrong?

Large hospitals and traditional care providers in the healthcare system network are also now facing new competitors. Emerging virtual-only health providers have attracted patients with their promise of efficient and low-cost care.

But hope is not lost; by focusing on tech-enabled care delivery, health institutions and surgeries can stay ahead of the competition by providing the personalised digital experiences patients need and desire.

Real-time clinical decision support 

While EHR patient portals provide a good set of analytics on patient log-ins and the activities carried out, more data insights are required to reveal unmet needs in a timely fashion. The surge of virtual-first models, where payers and providers are either merging or forming strategic partnerships, allows for better remote patient monitoring. By turning to these vendors, hospitals and surgeries can start to offer real-time clinical decision support, putting a stop to pricey and inconvenient office visits.

Enabling home-based care

The reality is that patients make wellness decisions every day, outside of the primary care office, so digital nudges from care providers that target them outside of the clinic (such as a simple reminder to go for a walk) are an increasingly important engagement tactic. By giving patients the option to access engaging them from anywhere, health providers also receive vital information throughout the patient’s healthcare journey. Communication is key when it comes to receiving the right data at any given time: the interaction between the patient, device and care provider must be frictionless.

Whole person care

By turning to digital tools and advanced remote care, doctors and health experts can focus on building holistic treatment plans, where both physical and mental health are integrated. To tackle patient care as a whole, care providers need to start accounting for social determinants of health (such as food security, transportation barriers, and education/literacy).

Such factors contribute to creating an in-depth patient profile, whereby the co-dependency between mental and physical wellness can be observed on a case-by-case basis. What we should see in the future is an expansion of medicine into whole-person care, where social care and healthcare come together to improve patient life expectancy and the general health of the population.

Personalised digital experiences are becoming the norm within the healthcare ecosystem, propelling hospitals, surgeries and health experts to change their tactics around digital transformation. If traditional EHR portals became the go-to solution during the height of the pandemic, the focus is now shifting towards much-needed advancements in tech-enabled care delivery.

By forging the right partnerships, health institutions can meet the growing patient expectation of close-care and be ahead of the game.

Terri Casterton is director of healthcare product and strategy at Bottle Rocket, which provides business strategy, product, design and technology services.

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