For those of you who are familiar with the Swedish, The Polyclinic, or another Swedish Electronic Health Record partner, you may also be familiar with My Online Chart. My Online Chart is described as a way to “communicate with your doctor, view your recent clinic visits, request prescriptions renewals and appointments, as well as view your test results.”
Having never used an electronic health records (EHRs) system before, I thought this was pretty revolutionary when I first used it this winter 2012. Ultimately, healthcare is a business. Information technology (IT) is transforming the healthcare world, and this trend will be more drastic and apparent in 2013. Below, I predict 3 trends for the upcoming year that may or may not already be happening within your healthcare provider.
1. Mobile Health
People want instant access, and one of the best ways to do that is via smartphones. Nearly 1 in every 5 Americans owns a smartphone. There has been an increase in mobile applications that allow patients to ask questions, set appointments, pay bills, and more. There is already an abundance of health and wellness apps that people use to track their physical health, but there is a lack medical marketing on mobile devices.
This presents a huge opportunity for healthcare marketers to differentiate themselves by creating apps that allow people to track their medical expenses and patient health information. For example, the Mayo Clinic allows people to share their stories online via Facebook. Many patients already share their medical journeys online to receive support and update friends and family that may live far way. This presents a huge opportunity for mobile applications to be able to ease this process.
Skype is no longer uncommon in the medical office. Several large healthcare systems have established relationships with telemed companies and are using it to communicate with patients in rural areas or at home. Tablets, like Apple’s iPad, are also poised to change telemedicine. The telemedicine-dedicated device and software market was at $736 million in 2011 and is anticipated to reach $2.5 billion by 2018. Early telehealth systems were expensive, but the increase in technology by tablets and mobile phones with video communication access (i.e, FaceTime) was lowered costs. For example, the cost for online doctor visit costs $35-$45, while urgent care is usually $90-$100, and the ER can cost over $1,000 a visit. Also, rather than having to rush to the office during your lunch break, you may soon be able to visit your doctor from your cubicle.
3. Electronic Health Records
Healthcare providers have more than 600 certified EHR systems to choose from and this market is expected to grow by about 21% in 2013. Ultimately, this service improves patient care. However, in 2013, as innovation and competitiveness increase, a large percentage of these vendors will also disappear. Research companies, such as Black Book, will also release satisfaction and performance survey results that are expected to narrow the market but also increase this technology’s use in additional physician offices.
This practice is not only sustainable, but also increases engagement with patients. It makes people happier to be able to see their results immediately online, and it saves resources in the meantime.
Healthcare is always in the news and it often seems difficult to stay up to date with federal and state laws. The results of the election have confirmed that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay and these marketing trends play a role in this legislation. Like any business, its about increasing efficiency and quality, and that’s what these services will do in 2013.