The recently conducted Health Internet Conference (HCIC) in Austin gave me and my SIM Partners colleagues a chance to get immersed in trends shaping patient care from the perspective of operations-oriented executives in the industry. Our company’s presence included both a booth and a place on the agenda, including our CEO Jon Schepke co-presenting with client Moira Green of Bellin Health.

The event agenda spanned topics in areas ranging from digital marketing to consumer engagement. In addition, I picked up insights by talking with attendees. Two themes stood out for me: the need to make the digital experience more patient-friendly and the importance of partnerships.

Making Digital More Patient-Friendly

We all know the search for care is increasingly digital. But the digital experience is not always an easy one, as my colleague Jay Hawkinson recently discussed in a blog post about the difficulty of finding care online. It’s clear that healthcare providers are trying to make the digital experience more patient-friendly to close the gap between what patients expect and what they experience. The signs were everywhere throughout HCIC, with speakers and attendees discussing these types of themes:

  • Creating a better user experience on healthcare systems’ websites – their digital front doors to care, as the presentation by Jon and Moira demonstrated.
  • Providing tools that make it easier for patients to schedule appointments. For instance, check out this tweet from the event: “@robbirgfeld: 80% of consumers will choose a physician with online scheduling over an identical one that does not. Wow! #hcic17”
  • Meeting patients where they are in the digital world as opposed to expecting them all to find your website, as this tweet from @donstanziano illustrates: “Consumers are visiting 38% fewer websites than in 2010…so we must be everywhere to meet people where they are –  @jaybaer #hcic17”

Accessibility resonates with everyone at SIM Partners. We have often discussed how healthcare systems can and should use data, content, and tools to be more accessible to patients. Recently, in a series of blog posts, Jon discussed how the three elements of accessibility come together:

  • Accurate and distributed data about locations and physicians makes your healthcare system findable.
  • Descriptive content such as blogs and physician mission statements helps people seeking care decide on whether to become your patients.
  • Tools such as scheduling widgets create

As an industry, we are making progress turning online searches into patient relationships. But we have a lot of work to do.

Healthcare Is a Partnership

Just wandering the show room floor at a conference such as HCIC gives you a sense of the vast number of businesses that shape the patient journey from awareness to care – the content managers, the technology platforms (like ours), website developers, specialty networks, and so on. Providing patient service and care is a collaborative environment even among competitors. Healthcare systems and their patients are at the center of that environment.

Technology-savvy operational executives who know how to manage multiple outside vendors are incredibly valuable to a healthcare system – and I stress technology savvy because the innovations in healthcare are coming from increasingly tech-rooted relationships with business inside and outside the industry, such as Apple (a topic we have blogged about).
The industry will remain fragmented for the foreseeable future, and for a positive reason: smaller, nimble entrants are emerging constantly to introduce technologies and business models to make patient care more affordable and efficient. Those changes need to occur given the cost of healthcare. SIM Partners’ role is to provide the technology, business intelligence, and consulting to attract and retain patients. Contact us. We’re here to help.