Trending now: Healthcare in the palm of your hands

By Katelyn Lewis on April 28th, 2016

When it comes to healthcare, big things are happening and as a marketer in this space, it’s important to stay on top of the issues and trends that are making the biggest impact on this industry. At the conclusion of 2015, PwC released an annual report highlighting the top ten healthcare trends for 2016. Of those ten, the rise in mobile and digital health was near the top of that list. Healthcare in the palm of your hands now means more than just monitoring your exercise and calorie intake in a smartphone app, it also means diagnosis and treatment. What does that look like for 2016 and beyond?

Let’s dive in!

Giving more power to the consumer. According to this report, the adoption of health-related smartphone apps has doubled in the last two years, from 16 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2015. With this shift in technology, care is beginning to move into the palms of consumers' hands.

With a smartphone in the hand of almost American, patients are shopping online for doctors, relying on web-based diagnostic tools and researching treatment options on the web and becoming the way people are making informed decisions about their health and the kind of care they receive. This shift in the way patients gather information is replacing the primary care physician as the single source to turn to and as technology advances, it will continue to empower people to alter the delivery of care.

Virtual doctor visits. It seems like people are busier than ever these days and convenience is a huge factor when making choices regarding care. According to the PwC report, sixty percent of consumers are willing to have a video visit with a physician through their mobile device, while 58 percent of clinicians would rather provide a portion of care virtually.

Insurance companies like United Healthcare and Humana have recently jumped on this train by partnering with telemedicine companies like Doctor on Demand to cover video-based doctor visits the same way it covers in-person doctor visits. People suffering from minor health issues like pink eye or sore throat can save time with a virtual visit where they can see and talk to a doctor from a computer or mobile device. Within half an hour, a patient can speak to a doctor, be given a diagnosis and a prescription sent a local pharmacy. These decisions by such influential players in the industry is a strong sign that telemedicine is far from fading.

An app prescription. Your next prescription may include a mobile app in addition to medicine or therapy. Hospitals are developing health apps that help patients mange their medical conditions like diabetes, cancer or even as specific as recovering from surgery, and this information is fed back to the doctor in real time. Researchers say prescribed mobile health apps stand a better chance of being integrated into the patients’ daily routines compared to ones that consumers use without their doctor being involved.

These types of apps can prompts patients to assess their pain level several times a week, or track when they experience serious symptoms. This method can record responses in real time, and if it is severe, the app sends a notification to doctor who is on-call.

For example, the University of Michigan developed an app called Breast Cancer Ally, which is offered to patients to help manage the load of information they receive from their diagnosis and throughout treatment. It allows patients to record their symptoms and provides guidance on when to consult the doctor about certain situations.

Looking ahead. Healthcare is meeting people where they are (literally) – in front of their eyes and on their screen. By the end of 2016, millions of American will use their smartphone as a diagnostic tool, have their first video consults and be prescribed a health app for the first time. I, for one, am excited to see how the rest of this year plays out!

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