The New Normal: Digital Health in the Post-COVID World – Part 1: The Future of Digital Health for Consumers

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Carina Edwards, Chief Executive Officer, Quil

In our increasingly online world, greater adoption in digital health has been a trend among consumers for several years. This past year poured rocket fuel on that trend across every demographic. We know it’s not just the kids glued to their phones either – seniors are becoming more comfortable using technology and caregivers are increasingly using online tools to inform healthcare decisions for their loved ones.

The data shows many patients are on board to continue the trend. Not only has the number of patients using telehealth and digital tracking tools jumped over 40% each in the past year, but almost 88% of patients want to continue using telehealth for nonurgent consultations. But, as digital health innovators, we know that telehealth is only one component of comprehensive virtual care.

Giving Consumers Control

The pandemic showed consumers that the incredible benefits of digital healthcare go far beyond a simple video call with a physician. Digital innovators are taking the telehealth trend one step further and engaging patients and caregivers even when they are not directly in front of a doctor.

One study found that 51% of patients failed to recall recommendations and treatments their physician gave unless prompted, which the authors attributed to lack of patient participation during the visit. This study highlights the absolute need for asynchronous learning opportunities for patients and caregivers. Instead of simply receiving information, digital health users become active learners and champions of their own health and the health of their loved ones. The combination of face-to-face telehealth plus the provision of healthcare information to patients at any time in between doctor’s visits can give consumers confidence and control.

We will always need doctors’ offices, but it’s up to digital health innovators to facilitate the right mix of in-person and virtual encounters, asynchronous virtual learning, and checking in. Now with greater adoption of digital health tools, patients are back in control with on-demand healthcare information.

Engaging Consumers

Streaming platforms like Amazon, Netflix, and Peacock have completely revolutionized the way we watch television and made the term “binge-watching” practically the same as just “watching” a show. Who hasn’t been excited for the next episode of New Amsterdam?

We already know that delivering personalized healthcare information on consumers’ preferred devices results in happier and healthier patients.

Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare and seek content that provides them the tools to do so. Simply giving consumers the time and access to process and learn relevant healthcare information on their own in an engaging setting has led to incredible results.

What’s Next?

The healthcare IT industry is at a turning point. Despite all the challenges we faced during the pandemic, now is the time to prove digital health is not just for a quarantined world. Consumers want to rely on digital health now more than ever, for themselves and to help care for their loved ones. If digital health leaders don’t want their platforms to go the way of the laser disc, now is the time to meet this demand and provide engaging, accessible and relevant healthcare content.

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