Enhance the Care Experience: Patients are Consumers, too.

Morgan Watts
Morgan WattsNovember 18th, 2021

Disjointed. Confusing. Frustratingly vague. These words come to mind when I think of past emergent care experiences for myself, my children, and my parents. I – like many people who are simultaneously caring for children and aging parents – am responsible for navigating complex health systems for multiple loved ones. We rely on healthcare software to help us in these efforts, sometimes from thousands of miles away. Yet, most of these systems have not caught up to consumer expectations and needs (yes, we are consumers here!). We are often left bumbling through phone calls, waiting rooms, and password resets. We make it work, but it isn’t pretty.

Harvard Business Review recently published an article exploring five key principles needed to improve the patient experience. Here, Dr. John Glaser looks at the disconnect between the terms “patient” and “consumer” – and how traditional meanings do not properly illustrate the interplay between the two. It’s not one or the other. Make no mistake: a “patient” is a “consumer”. It is as simple (and arguably, as complicated) as that. Yet, healthcare organizations and HealthTech have a lot of work to do to create experiences that demonstrate their understanding of this reality.

The Healthcare Industry is Playing Catch-Up

For those of us who grew up during the time of dial-up, we know how to struggle successfully through a terrible technology experience. We find the work around. Most industries have kept pace with consumer demands and expectations, and as a result, have eased the need to know “the work around”. However, we know too well that healthcare has not matched that same pace of UX, in part due to the late-stage realization that patients are consumers. Which means, as a result, I often find myself troubleshooting as I navigate healthcare for my family.

Patients and Families Expect the Best 

As a general rule, consumers expect top-notch, intuitive systems and processes that work for them – and quickly at that! A researcher at UMass Amherst found that 25% of people abandon a video if it doesn’t load within 5 seconds. 5 seconds! Yet, when it comes to healthcare, patients and families are forced to accept what is provided to them. There is little room for choice, especially during an emergency situation. And when these healthcare experiences don’t align with learned expectations of ease, convenience, and simplicity, they might feel dissatisfied with the perceived care that was provided to them. All at no fault of the clinicians providing care.

Improving the Care Experience

At Vital, we believe people should feel in control of their care using easy, sleek technology to guide them. This is why we develop beautiful and intelligent software for health systems, hospitals, clinicians, and patients. Patients and families must feel confident about their care journey and what comes next. They should have the right tools to reduce the uncertainty that comes with an emergency situation. We understand that, in the same breath, patients are consumers. And we hope HealthTech catches up to our founding principle – patients and families deserve the best.

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