How patients are driving new demands for healthcare in 2021

By Tristan Morris


As a result of the pandemic, patients have embraced virtual and digital care, and it’s likely that they will continue to do so in 2021. With the necessity of digital contact, and at-home treatments to comply with social distancing rules, we’re seeing the healthcare industry develop and change in hyper speed, as technological advances are being adopted more quickly. The digital revolution has been a long time coming in the healthcare sector, but it’s now that we see health services and treatments drastically change their approach – as a matter of urgency. 

As a result of these changes, we’re not only seeing the pandemic as a driver of change, but patient expectations are creating new demands for what healthcare should look like in the future. The ease and availability of digital services works not only to reduce risk of spreading COVID-19, but equally propels us towards an approach that treats patients the way they are accustomed to – as a consumer. 

Patients felt that care was as good or better delivered through virtual and digital channels.

As consumers, patients are used to speedy, efficient, and above all convenient services. The majority of businesses now have moved to a digital-first product or service offering, and it’s now that we’re seeing this shift happen to healthcare organisations. Post-pandemic, patients felt that care was as good, and in many cases better, when delivered via virtual channels, and it’s this that means we can’t shift back to pre-pandemic methodologies. 

The key is to understand your audience. Millennial / Gen Z patients are statistically far more likely to respond well to digital treatments and services, and it’s this that means healthcare organisations need to be accepting the new normal – sooner, rather than later. Due to the pandemic, virtual tools have become essential lifelines for communication and treatment administration self-care at home. These tools signify a future in which healthcare encompasses a wider patient journey, blending not just the physical appointment and treatment, but instead a full digital journey to minimise delays, improve patient satisfaction, and reduce admin. 

Many patients have also started using medical devices and apps to help manage and monitor their conditions.

In addition to virtual healthcare services, we’ve also seen a steady increase in patients using medical devices and apps to manage and monitor their conditions. These digital apps and devices aren’t just helpful for keeping track of current conditions, but are increasingly being used to prevent future conditions and manage health. With access to their own data in the palm of their hands, patients are more engaged with their own health than ever – and post-pandemic, health is at the forefront of their minds. 

Technology enabled healthcare providers to maintain or even improve the patient care experience.

Despite patients being more in control of their own health, they’re still reliant on healthcare providers and brands when it comes to guidance. It’s clear that in the new normal, they’re craving a different type of engagement- one that’s centred in the digital space. Digitally, brands are able to connect with patients, and personalise this connection to align with patient wants, needs and expectations. Using advancements in technology and the apps and devices mentioned, we’re able to do this – improving not just the patient experience, but allowing brands and providers to really tap into audience sentiment and brand reputation. 

Patients appreciated the faster response time and the convenience of receiving care at home that digital and virtual tools made possible.

Audiences are proving more receptive to digital means of communication, appreciating the convenience of digital tools that can be accessed from home throughout the pandemic. This is almost certain to shape the way that healthcare progresses in 2021 and beyond, as the sector shapes to meet new demands. As the digital revolution progresses, we’re likely to see health management become more of an ecosystem, with virtual touchpoints to prevent, monitor and manage conditions. This is likely to become the new normal for healthcare, meaning that brands and service providers need to start responding to these patient demands – now. With digital diagnosis, health management devices, not to mention wearables that have been gaining popularity, it’s clear that the patient is no longer simply the patient – but a consumer, with consumer expectations.

Need to go digital? BBI Health recently published the complete digital guide for healthcare brands, covering how organisations can get ahead, and stay ahead, in 2021.

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