The Best Digital Health is Human First
Healthcare is one of the most personal industries. Yet for years it has often felt cold, impersonal, and formulaic. But with a shift to value-based care, new digital tools are transforming the experience to be more personal. Digital health platforms help to integrate human interaction, live support, and personal health advocates in support of better patient engagement. As more elements of health become automated, integrated, and customized, the future of digital health may indeed have a human face.
Perhaps the first sign that healthcare could be customized was through the introduction of avatars. As more healthcare systems adopted patient portal systems, transitioned to EHR platforms, and began incorporating limited digital components, the avatar appeared. This function gave patients the ability to customize their experience on their own, indicating simple metrics like patient demographics, preferences, and preferred modes of communication.
An avatar isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it marked a significant shift in the larger healthcare industry that patients were no longer just a number or case to resolve. An avatar indicates that patients have different needs, deserve personalized care, and are involved in their own health to achieve best outcomes. While the use of avatars in healthcare is limited, this level of customization paved the way for greater awareness and understanding of patients and the application of AI in the industry.
AI to create tailored, personalized interactions
The advanced use of AI has helped to create more personalized communications to address specific patient needs. By utilizing patient data alongside user demographics, digital health is able capture a greater picture of each user, their activities, the potential challenges they may face, and adjust accordingly. The application of AI helps to create an experience that better matches the unique needs of each patient, delivered at times when they need it.
The application of AI helps to create an experience that better matches the unique needs of each patient, delivered at times when they need it.
Through greater customization, analysis of patient data, and wider use of various communication channels, digital health companies can capture all this information to create patient interaction that generates positive support and reinforces behaviors for better health. The power of AI isn’t restricted to patients, as its use is also helping providers anticipate patient needs and variances in treatments to support the unique needs of their patients. Using AI to create tailored interactions is proving to transform the healthcare experience with positive results.
Innovation in healthcare has often lagged other industries, and for an industry that is focused on personal care, going fully digital can reinforce its cold and impersonal descriptors of old. Leaders in digital health are blending the models with more warm introductions that employ humans to connect patients to digital health tools. Some healthcare systems have employed the use of chatbots to blend digital engagement with live or AI-driven patient conversations. Others are using personal health advocates to engage patients in their health, and transition to a digital platform for longer-term management.
Pleio recently teamed up with Medisafe to create a program that uses healthcare mentors to develop rapport, answer questions and guide patients on their therapy journey. The program then transitions patients onto the Medisafe platform which activates a digital medication management support program and supports patients throughout their journey. This human-to-digital handoff creates a more personal and engaging experience that ensures support for patients’ lives. It establishes a space where healthcare is no longer transactional but incorporates into all aspects of patient lives.
Changing the lens through which we see patients is the starting point for human-centered design, a way of thinking about digital-driven experiences that address the emotional and functional needs for patients. Human-to-digital may be the secret sauce for success in healthcare’s digital future, as long as it’s used to enhance established and proven care pathways. In that sense, it’s not a zero-sum game between patients, caregivers and emerging digital health companies. The challenge is to not just to use human-driven digital tools but to further enhance and improve the industry toward bettering patients’ lives.