We’ve worked on a telehealth platform and training systems for pharmaceutical companies. We helped Ryman Healthcare develop an app for their retirement villages that allowed residents to stay plugged into event and news updates, even during lockdowns.
Our healthcare clients faced various challenges as Covid-19 swept around the world, but they got through the pandemic, serving their patients and customers with incredible grace and empathy. Now we have to look to the future and the myriad ways the experience of the last two years has changed healthcare forever.
Those changes represent new imperatives for designing both the customer experience and the employee experience in healthcare. At Journey Digital, we want to be at the forefront of these changes, drawing on our own experience and that of our partners to make healthcare more accessible, equitable and convenient for people everywhere.
Healthcare goes virtual
Hospitals were stretched to capacity dealing with Covid cases during the pandemic, but by necessity, virtual healthcare also expanded massively in many countries. According to consulting firm McKinsey, virtual health visits in the US grew 38 times between March 2020 and October 2021, amounting to over 150 million virtual visits.
Doctors logged on to Zoom to talk to patients and patient portals became the go-to place to access clinical test results. While this allowed health professionals to manage an increased workload and lessen the risk of covid spreading, it also diminished healthcare’s personal touch.
Gone were in-person appointments where doctors had more time to get to know their patients. For many, healthcare suffered as a result, a situation every country is now attempting to reserve while retaining an omnichannel approach to offering healthcare access.
McKinsey suggests that the new environment requires healthcare providers to prioritise five things:
- meeting the needs of the whole person (a focus on improving overall wellbeing)
- enabling consumers to make better decisions by providing transparent, understandable information
- personalising and enhancing engagement in healthcare
- delivering seamless customer experience across healthcare journeys and coverage transitions, starting with improved access to care
- integrating in-person and virtual healthcare solutions
Hospitals and clinics are still grappling with labour shortages and the exhaustion of dealing with Covid. But private healthcare is highly competitive and public health systems are under pressure to reduce waiting times and improve their quality of service.
The rise of telehealth means people have more choices. They don’t have to use the services of their closest GP and can opt for virtual consultations with specialists in other cities. The healthcare providers who take those five priorities seriously and design experiences that empower patients to make better decisions, provide insights into their health status and offer a seamless experience across in-person visits, home care and digital platforms, will thrive.
Better serving the healthcare workforce
If patients had a rough time in the health system during Covid, spare a thought for the frontline health workers and the behind-the-scenes staff who kept vaccines, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential health supplies flowing in the face of supply chain disruption and overwhelming demand.
For many, the burnout associated with working through Covid has left them questioning their future in the health sector. With almost 1.7 million healthcare workers, according to Forbes, resigning in the US (equivalent to 3% of the workforce) in a year, it’s clear that healthcare professionals, just like in almost every other industry, are reevaluating their life and work balance.
One of the top priorities in healthcare workers is a desire to work fewer hours. The punishing schedules of the last two years are not sustainable. In the same Forbes article, 28% resigned because of burnout. Doctors are seeking better work-life balance and to reduce their admin burden so they can spend more time focusing on their patients' needs.
This requires the health sector to re-think the experience it offers its employees. The health and wellbeing of the health workforce are of growing concern and the effort to address it extends to the digital platforms doctors, nurses and other health professionals use to get their work done.
They have less time than ever for paperwork, so cutting out the grind of form filling and working in clunky user interfaces is now a necessity. Well-designed systems for tracking employee wellbeing, productivity and professional development are key to attracting and retaining talent in the health sector. If personalisation is a priority for patients, it will also make the lives of busy health workers easier, letting them access the most relevant information as quickly as possible. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are playing a growing role in personalisation
A more productive health sector
With rising costs and labour shortages putting even more pressure on health budgets, hospitals and outpatient clinics need to make every dollar count. While technology investment has often been seen as adding significant costs in the healthcare sector, well-designed technology platforms can boost productivity and cut costs, freeing up resources for frontline health services.
“If the healthcare delivery industry could rely more heavily on labour productivity gains rather than workforce expansion to meet demand growth, by 2028 healthcare spending could potentially be about $280 billion to $550 billion less than current national health expenditure projections suggest,” McKinsey notes.
At Journey Digital, we are proud of our work enabling technology solutions for healthcare providers around the world.