The digital world has made available educational sources once reserved for those with specialized skills needed to access information. The healthcare industry has become especially invested in changing this dynamic. Accessibility has become the byword for an individual’s personalized research into symptoms, diagnoses and expected outcomes. By extension, the digital patient increasingly is becoming a contributor to his or her current and future health. This “do it yourself” dynamic can be a valuable asset if correctly directed.
The world has become an open book with vast amounts of material available for the curious. It also is filled with mistaken assumptions, illogical extensions of research findings and just plain incorrect information. For the healthcare professional, reversing the effects of unreliable information has become a part of patient treatment. A caregiver is forced to become an information curator. Yet despite these limiting factors, the healthcare industry has a great opportunity to help the digital patient become a colleague.
The value proposition of the DIY/Colleague digital patient is found when information appropriate to the patient is presented and curated at the right time in the right format. This means moving the information transfer closer to the patient with more sources and uses of data available. It means that the patient must be treated like a colleague who can take on some of the research capabilities needed to manage his or her outcome. It means trust on all sides of the equation. Technology is the key to creating and maintaining this trust.
The healthcare system can succeed in making the digital patient a true contributor to his or her healthcare. For the IT professional working in a healthcare organization, the challenge is to help select the right information in the right format on a patient-specific basis. Each patient might have a different set of capabilities. Offering different presentations of the same baseline information can help tailor the experience to the digital patient’s specific needs. Making this possible will help advance the overall state of healthcare. This is the key to making the healthcare system more efficient, cost-effective and responsive.
This is the fourth installment in the series of articles addressing the digital patient and the healthcare ecosystem’s response to a more complex and demanding audience. Please subscribe to our blog to stay tuned. You may also reach out to the author, EC-United Executive Partner Robert H. Booz (firstname.lastname@example.org), for more information.