This Month’s Healthcare IT News: Healthcare Consumerism

September 22, 2020 | By Wendy Bartlett

This Month’s Healthcare IT News_ Healthcare Consumerism

In recent years, we’ve seen the steady rise of healthcare consumerism, or the enabling of patients to become more involved in their care decisions. The emergence of new healthcare IT tools and ever-evolving care landscape have transformed the industry, empowering consumers to step up and take their health into their own hands. 

From addressing concerns over data privacy and the high cost of care, to embracing the onslaught of new technologies and self-service tools made available to them, consumers have never taken a more active role in healthcare.

Although today’s consumers want to take responsibility for managing their health, before COVID-19, growth in consumer digital healthcare adoption had stalled. It was only with the global pandemic that adoption accelerated. And though the future is still uncertain, many healthcare IT leaders believe the newfound digital health momentum will remain a permanent fixture in the wake of the global health crisis. 

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To help keep you up to date as the healthcare IT landscape evolves, here are some of the latest headlines on consumerism and its impact on care delivery:

1. Maintaining Momentum in Patient Engagement Technology Adoption

What can be done to sustain the digital health momentum? According to a new Accenture report, 55 percent of consumers said that a trusted healthcare professional could inspire them to use patient engagement technologies to take a more active role in their own health. What’s more, half of respondents said they agree that a negative digital healthcare experience leads to an overall negative patient experience. More than one-quarter even said they would leave a provider if another could offer more high-quality digital services.

As healthcare consumers become increasingly tech-savvy—and technology itself continues to advance—the importance of offering patients a quality digital experience becomes clearer than ever. Telehealth, patient portals, wearables, and remote monitoring technology have all seen rapid growth in 2020, and with a seal of approval from trusted providers, that acceleration will likely continue.

2. The Pandemic Will Usher in a Slew of Connected Solutions in 2020

Patients today want healthcare to be as readily accessible as online shopping. However, meeting this expectation will require practices and health systems to adapt and approach care delivery differently. Modern consumers rely on technology for the “convenience they crave” and expect the same level of care to be available after COVID-19.

Of course, there are challenges to making this a reality, and interoperability is one of the greatest. According to this article from FierceHealthcare, we should expect to see more organizations adopting trusted data frameworks that put patients at the center, while also offering providers more transparency. Experts believe providers will take a more “consumer-centric” approach to healthcare even after the pandemic by providing access to advanced technologies that create a more collaborative patient experience.

3. How COVID-19 Has Enhanced the Need for Price Transparency

Rising healthcare costs are nothing new in 2020—but the issue has been further exacerbated due to COVID-19 and the upcoming presidential election. In fact, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans between ages 18-64 are more concerned about the cost of care now than they were before the pandemic. 

Price transparency is not just a nice-to-have, but rather an essential for today’s healthcare consumers. In conjunction with provider reviews, quality, and demographic information, price transparency is critical when it comes to empowering consumers to access the highest-quality care for both themselves and their families. Additionally, price transparency can enable consumers to make more confident and informed healthcare choices by helping them understand their options in a more meaningful way.

4. Consumers Largely Unaware Insurers Have Access to Their Online Data

A new survey revealed that just 11 percent of adults believe their health plans have access to consumer-generated data derived from online activity, social media posts, and streaming habits. Although 60 percent of survey respondents said it was fine for their health plans or employer to use personal information to create tailored programs, two-thirds said this was unacceptable when that information included social media activity or binge watching habits.

According to the executive director for Biomedical Innovation at MITRE, a nonprofit focused on research and development, the survey’s results reinforce the significant gap that exists between what consumers believe insurance companies and employers know about them personally, and what is actually known. Though consumer-generated data is distinct from protected health information, patients still have legitimate cause for concern when it comes to the privacy of personal data and how it’s used. 

These are just a few of several new advancements and predictions about the future of healthcare consumerism, but we’ve got you covered. Subscribe to our blog to read more of the latest and greatest healthcare IT headlines.

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