The demand is there.
Nearly 85 percent of all Americans use the Internet in some aspect on a regular basis. Two-thirds have visited at least one health-related website in the past year. This includes both health portal sites like WebMD, and sites dedicated to health, nutrition or diet information.
Despite the desire, less than 30 percent have taken the necessary steps to communicate with a healthcare provider using digital services, the majority still preferring to meet in more traditional ways.
Yes, in some ways this is an age-related issue. Those 35 and under make up the largest population who have connected with medical providers virtually. But that isn’t stopping consumers in every age bracket from quickly discovering the benefits.
- We refill prescriptions online.
- We login to view results and make schedule changes.
- We fill out forms and send email to get answers to small health questions.
Consumer enthusiasm is there. And it can be encouraged in many ways.
But before consumers willingly jump on board, providers must lead the way. A provider’s fervor will validate the growing possibilities virtual medicine has. And in many ways that requires an 180-degree shift in thinking.
For many medical centers, it isn’t about the ability to connect with the patient, many tools make that process easy. Instead, it’s about staying safe in the process, and that’s an issue that is terrifying in many ways.
The more services you offer your patients, the more these systems will test the IT infrastructure and the ability to handle growing traffic, system reliability, and data security.
Traditional portal sites are up and running fine. But what about when you add video calls on a regular basis? There is a lot of variables that enter the mix. While your video communication protocols should match your demand, what about your end user video player configurations? Software glitches can cause all kinds of problems, making it an unproductive session at best. And the larger the volume of traffic out there requesting virtual care, the bigger the problem becomes.
The problems continue from there.
If communication between provider and patient works flawlessly, real-time communications also dictate the need for timely access to health data. Doctors may have the need to move from system to system, retrieving health records and lab results from different sources. And in many cases, these will be accessed from different systems, different vendors. How well do they work together? How accessible are they on the fly? How safe is the process?
Testing the systems ability is only the tip of the iceberg.
Having the correct IT infrastructure with a uniform health IT integration process will move to the top of the priority list as both providers and patients begin demanding more.
Will you be ready?