Engaging the “Consumer Patient” — What Healthcare Must Learn from Telecom
Engaging the “Consumer Patient” — What Healthcare Must Learn from Telecom

To launch our ongoing Leader’s Thought blog series, this post is written by Alan Creighton — communications mogul turned CEO of MDnetSolutions.


It’s no secret that consumers are embracing and adopting new technologies and communication tools at an unprecedented rate. Within the telecom industry, the demand for asynchronous engagement — “what I want, when and where I want it” — has exploded, and telecom providers have delivered. With applications for a multitude of devices, the industry has set the bar for communication preferences and enabled consumer brands to have this kind of conversation

And this is where the healthcare industry has fallen behind.

While numerous studies that have indicated that patient engagement improves healthcare outcomes, the healthcare industry as whole has not addressed the changes in communication preferences that consumers, their patients, expect. Yes, brick-and-mortar practices have developed patient portals; but they primarily serve as one-way information aggregators within that practice. It’s the lack of outgoing communication from providers and the ability to consume patient information outside of the brick and mortar that is affecting how active a role patients take in managing their own health.

With consumers far ahead of providers and squarely in a highly-engaged phase, this new generation of “consumer patients” is frustrated that they can’t have more communication with their providers when and where they want to receive it. Where telecom technologies have evolved to allow brands to keep up with consumer demand, the CRM technology supporting healthcare practices has remained largely stagnant. In order to thrive, practices must begin to explore the benefits of digital dialogue throughout the patient care continuum and outside the of the typical healthcare setting, particularly with post-discharge follow-up. By enabling dialogue, practices can efficiently and effectively utilize tools of engagement to help their patients lead healthier lives.

So what have we learned?

For healthcare to succeed in the “consumer patient” generation, integration and interoperability among healthcare IT applications are crucial. Because very few healthcare vendors have fully embraced this, the standards and protocols are lacking when it comes to sharing data and exchanging information. This, too, creates a deficiency when transferring patient data and results in an inefficient, frustrating experience.

How do we help improve that experience?

One, we have to communicate outside of the healthcare setting with methods that patients, our “consumers”, are most comfortable and most responsive. Two, the healthcare industry must work together to do a better job of sharing information in order to stay effective and relevant.

Simply put, healthcare practices that choose not integrate choose to become obsolete. The need for that communication has primed healthcare data to become part of an information system that empowers and educates patients. There is a huge opportunity in the market to utilize the tools of engagement that we know patients, our consumers, have adopted from other consumer brands. Companies that have tuned into this opportunity are beginning to introduce tools that are driven by communication preferences and designed to integrate with existing EMR systems. By adapting their preferred methods of information exchange, healthcare providers can now offer a more-relevant dialogue to better engage with their patients.

About MDnetSolutions:

We are leveraging communication innovations, and structuring our software for integration, to facilitate conversations between healthcare providers and patients. By creating tools that provide a multi-level view of the patient pathway, and integrate with EMRs, we can also keep a practice’s staff informed of where each patient is within in the provider’s healthcare continuum to prevent them from stalling in their cycle of care. Learn more about these solutions at www.mdnetsolutions.com