Technology has been advancing healthcare for hundreds of years.
The first successful vaccination was developed in 1796, and medical imaging emerged around a century later. However, the innovations we’re currently experiencing are much different. In the past few years, we’ve seen a shift from physician-driven advancements to patient-driven ones. Doctors are no longer the source of the next significant advancement. Instead, patients are taking the lead when it comes to the technological advancement of healthcare.
Part of this has to do with the current state of the healthcare system. Like many health plans, mine doesn’t require a primary physician. This ensures that it’s much more self-driven, self-motivated, and self-designed. It also allows the opportunity to approach my own care from a different perspective. In fact, some of the most innovative ideas in the healthcare industry stem from this move toward patient-directed care.
What might be the real driving force behind this shift, however, is our increasingly consumer-centric culture. Today’s consumers hold a great deal of power, and it was only a matter of time until their expectations redefined patient care.
Future Innovations in Healthcare
Patients desire seamless, enjoyable experiences. They enjoy digital conveniences and want their healthcare to be customer-oriented. But like all change, technological advancements in healthcare come with challenges as players learn to adapt. Take electronic health records, which have become much more comprehensive. Though this is excellent for patients, it requires more work from doctors — so much so that this could be contributing to physician burnout.
Most new technology comes with a steep learning curve. For example, not all doctors understand how something like artificial intelligence or machine learning could help with care rather than hinder it. Some even fear that technology could replace them. Yet many others embrace this change and recognize the potential of sustaining innovations in healthcare. They acknowledge a host of opportunities for future healthcare innovations, many of which have the potential to disrupt the industry in significant, positive ways.
Here are just a few healthcare innovation trends medical manufacturers, companies, and clinics should be focusing on over the next five to 10 years:
1. User experience:
As people have more of a say in their healthcare, user experience is becoming a focus for innovation in healthcare technology. Today’s users want to book appointments quickly and fill out minimal paperwork. They also want to do these things as conveniently as possible, which means an online option is necessary.
If a certain practice doesn’t offer this ease of access, patients are likely to go somewhere else that does. Healthcare organizations that adopt a more patient-centric approach and design solutions with the end user in mind will see much greater success.
As consumers evolve to base more decisions on data, they’re calling for greater transparency from companies — and that demand extends into the healthcare industry. People should (and will) seek out doctors who give them the information they need to make the right decisions at the right time. Even something as simple as sharing the out-of-pocket costs of a visit or procedure would be a step in the right direction. In fact, some health systems are now making cost estimator tools available to patients.
Surveys suggest that there’s still significant confusion surrounding current healthcare laws — particularly when it comes to the Affordable Care Act — and it doesn’t seem like this trend will end anytime soon. Many people don’t fully understand how their plans work, what they’re eligible for, or the full extent of the services available to them.
If you’re looking to create innovations in healthcare technology, patient education is an open door. Consider how access to engaging, interactive information could inspire people to become more active in their own personal health.
Change is a constant, and the need for it will continue to drive healthcare innovations. The biggest change today is that patients — not providers — are beginning to call the shots. If you want your healthcare organization to stay ahead of the game, uncover what your patients truly want. Then, evolve to ensure you’re meeting those needs.