Digital Consumer Health Strategy for Today’s Marketplace

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In recent years, several new entrants in the healthcare marketplace have disrupted how healthcare is delivered. Amazon Care, Teladoc, Amwell, and others, have defined new healthcare trends, identified underserved niches, and created industry-leading health companies.  

Additionally, some smaller providers are now creating innovative online business models and promoting convenient digital consumer health services that patients are willing to pay for. Small and large health practices are beginning to treat digital consumer health services as their own online business model with unique cost and revenue advantages. Launching new digital health services may be easier than you think if you have the right platform.

Leverage and the Healthcare Crisis

Healthcare systems today are facing: increasing complexity, labor shortages, aging populations, increased prevalence of chronic disease, and poor financial performance. All of these pressures are forecast to continue well into the future. Macro indicators such as the Person Support Ratio (PSR) – the ratio of working to non-working age persons – are forecasted to drop from 4:1 to 2:1 by 2040. Healthcare organizations will, in turn, be forced to do even more with less. Yet, the healthcare crisis provides opportunities for new entrants that can do things differently and more efficiently. Organizations will determine success based on the ability to leverage their precious resources and talent better.  

Online businesses often use leverage as a competitive weapon. They are not burdened by existing brick-and-mortar offices, large cost structures, location and regional restrictions, and rigid labor models. As a result, online businesses and their digital health services can often scale nationally and become profitable much faster than their traditional counterparts. Now is the time for health organizations to focus on their digital transformation and online health services.

Consumer Digital Expectations

Today, consumers are demanding the ability to do more things online from wherever they are. Other industries, such as retail and banking, have set consumers’ expectations for convenience. These expectations are not limited to young people either, and digital service usage continues to climb. For example, Flagler Health, located in northeast Florida, saw 31% of their patients on their new Flagler Health+ Anywhere App to be 60 years of age or older.  

Avoid Anchoring on Legacy Business Models and Technology

Health care executives tend to leverage existing investments to create something new. But this strategy doesn’t always work. Most digital consumer health strategies started as limited extensions of existing brick-and-mortar hospitals and outpatient clinics. Digital consumer health was conceived as an add-on to help connect patients to the physical services at the hospital or outpatient setting. Similarly, existing clinical EMRs were extended to include patient portals providing very restricted online and digital consumer capabilities for consumers. EMRs play an important role in healthcare operations, but by themselves, they are not enough to enable online digital consumer health services. They are too restricted to provider administration and billing, including pre-visit documentation, case notes, orders, diagnosis, prescribing, coding, and reimbursements. Launching new digital consumer health services anchored on old business models and EMRs, can be costly and result in a poor customer experience.

Strategic Imperatives for Digital Consumer Health Services

The objective of the new online business model is to attract customers by delivering on some measure of speed, convenience, quality, customer service, and value for money. New digital consumer health services should provide the following imperatives:

  • A seamless, unbroken end-to-end online service experience from start to finish
  • A simple and efficient experience for both patients and providers
  • Better leveraged precious physician and practice resources
  • Value-added service features that can’t be achieved through legacy models
  • Physical components such as prescriptions, tests, medical devices, medical supplies, and other health and wellness services chosen for their ability to be administered with ease, speed, and delivered anywhere while interconnected to the platform

Today’s healthcare challenges provide opportunities to do things differently and be more successful. When evaluating a solution for delivering online healthcare services to consumers, consider dedicated business models and platforms that provide a seamless end-to-end consumer experience.