Healthcare Consumerism Solutions

Addressing healthcare consumerism with connectivity.

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By Dr. Christine Gall, Head of Healthcare Marketing, T-Mobile for Business

The concept of healthcare consumerism driving patient choice regarding how, when and where they access care has been trending for a while.

In a 2018 study¹, Vivian Ho, Director of Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, and Anaeze Offodile, a physician at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, wrote, "We live in a world where an individual's discretionary choices (food, clothing and travel) are increasingly driven by convenience and amenability to control—for example, online shopping—and the prevalence of mobile apps."

The researchers advised that consumerism in healthcare is a permanent part of the healthcare landscape because healthcare customers want the same kind of access, convenience, and service they are accustomed to in other areas of life. Or, as a recent report from RevSpring², describes it, "efficient, personalized, and seamless" care.

The digital patient

Three ways to meet healthcare-consumer expectations.

Consumer's top expectations for experience when they access healthcare can be supported with reliable cell phone connections. These digital patient experience solutions should include:

Use of electronic forms. Electronic forms and optical character recognition (OCR) can make filling out paperwork faster and easier for patients. Datamation cites³ six benefits of electronic forms. They include:

  1. Decreased costs and paper. Decreasing the use of paper and ink automatically reduces costs and streamlines processes by eliminating paper handling, distribution, storage, and retrieval.

  2. Allows remote access. A major interest fueling consumerism in healthcare is the ability of patients to access information wherever they are and when they need it. Electronic forms allow instant access anywhere with an internet connection.

  3. Improved data accuracy. Electronic forms can prevent incorrect formats and inconsistent or missing information.

  4. Automation. Automation of electronic forms supports completion of basic customer information, including name, address, phone numbers and other demographics. These forms can also be enhanced with other automation including auto calculation and auto population of common information based upon previous documentation.

  5. Security. Due to encryption and other security measures, electronic forms can improve safety and security.

  6. Auditability. Chain of custody is often difficult or impossible with paper forms as it is not possible to identify who has viewed or edited information. Electronic forms can be tracked, not only to determine who has accessed them but to identify changes that have been made.

Improved mobile experience. Reliable mobile access enables improved internet experiences. According to Datareportal³, at the beginning of 2023, 5.16 billion people globally were using the internet. Furthermore, 57% of those people are using their mobile phones to go online.

In healthcare, mobile devices can be leveraged to make appointments, complete registration, review the medical record, communicate with the care team, and make payments.

Texting providers. Increasingly, patients and providers are communicating via text messages. The HIPAA Journal⁴ underscores the importance of adherence to HIPAA standards, including the use of a HIPAA-compliant text messaging platform.

The HIPAA Journal notes, "Text messaging in healthcare streamlines communication between all members of the care team, patient handovers are improved which reduces the potential for errors, and the ability to text staff members eliminates phone tag and hours of wasted time. The use of text messaging has helped reduce the cost of healthcare provision and has improved the patient experience and staff satisfaction levels. Less time wasted by staff means more time can be devoted to treating patients."

Improving experiences

Leveraging reliable connectivity to enhance the digital healthcare experience for consumers.

Digital connectivity is key to providing a good healthcare consumer experience. Timely digital medical communications between healthcare institutions, providers and patients are vital to supporting and managing the patient journey as well as improving access to safe, top-quality care and achieving optimal outcomes.

In 2021, the American Telemedicine Association advanced a framework for addressing health disparities through telehealth, citing the components critical to successful implementation. At the top of their hierarchical model is connectivity.

Trends in increased consumerism are forcing healthcare organizations to re-evaluate their delivery models to make accessing care easy and convenient. Digital medical communications tools that improve the overall care experience are becoming mainstream and influencing consumer choice. The entire patient journey is shaping patient perceptions of their overall experience and is driving future decision-making regarding the providers and systems they will utilize.

About the author:

Christine Gall

Dr. Christine Gall, Head of Healthcare Marketing

Dr. Gall has been a healthcare leader for over 30 years. As a nurse, she has practiced in inpatient, outpatient, and homecare settings, allowing unique insights into the continuum of care. Dr. Gall has designed and implemented multiple clinical programs aimed at addressing gaps in services and care for underserved patients.

Prior to joining T-Mobile, Dr. Gall consulted with local government to support their pandemic emergency response. In her role at T-Mobile, Dr. Gall leads the product marketing strategy for healthcare, collaborating with healthcare leaders and clinicians to create telehealth and mobility solutions that address the greatest challenges of the day. She believes that T-Mobile's powerful 5G network is key to addressing health disparities and barriers to access that impact population health.

Dr. Gall's academic credentials include a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Master of Science Degree in Healthcare Management from the Lubar School of Business Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a Doctorate Degree in Public Health Leadership from the University of Illinois Chicago. Her Dissertation, funded by the State of Ohio, was on the topic of Mass Casualty Pandemics. Dr. Gall is a Six Sigma Green Belt and has a Certification in Business Analytics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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