Telemedicine Trends for 2019 and Beyond

Tim Linberg, Chief Experience Officer

The rise of electronic medical records (EMRs) has helped healthcare providers significantly improve communications — both between care givers and with patients.

However, making EMRs the norm is just a first step in a long road to digitally transforming the healthcare industry. And specifically, there’s still plenty of opportunity to modernize, streamline, and improve the ways that patients and providers interact.

Heading into 2019 and beyond, telemedicine is the trend that promises to change the way patients feel about healthcare. For now, 93% of millennials say they avoid scheduling medical appointments as much as possible. One clarified that she’ll “avoid going [to the doctor] because it’s annoying to schedule appointments around work.”

To change this growing sentiment around outdated healthcare models, you need to find the intersection of two telemedicine trends — the improvement of connected medical devices and the growth of mobile apps that streamline patient experiences.

How the Internet of Things Will Drive Telemedicine

Improving healthcare experiences isn’t just about streamlining data sharing between patients and providers. You also need to enable omnichannel interactions by opening clearer lines of communication that take advantage of medical device innovation.

“As the ‘internet of things’ grows, and we collect health data on everything from our FitBits, to our smart scales, to the phones we carry 24/7, the potential for interaction between our EMRs and our technology increases …  As we combine smarter and more medically accurate devices with advances in telemedicine, we may begin to see traditional doctor’s office visits becoming a thing of the past.”Dr. Kimberly Johnston, Vice President of Academic Affairs at PA College of Health Sciences

Rather than relying on once-annual physicals (or less) to form the foundation of electronic medical records, IoT-enabled devices help healthcare providers create clearer patient profiles. That will play two important roles in telemedicine as it matures in 2019 and beyond:

  • Smarter Personalization: Healthcare is always personalized. However, miscommunication between patients and doctors can result in misdiagnoses or no clear diagnosis at all. With more connected devices collecting data, care givers will have more insights into symptoms, so they aren’t overly-reliant on how patients interpret their conditions. This will lead to more effective personalization in telemedicine.
  • Improved Patient Outcomes: One key to improving outcomes is making healthcare more convenient for digital-first patients. With IoT-enabled devices driving telemedicine, patients can choose the most convenient path possible to interact with a care giver. This will help change the trend of people avoiding appointments with doctors and improve outcomes in the process.

Electronic medical records and a growing market of IoT-enabled healthcare devices create the foundation for telemedicine. But to have a meaningful impact on the patient-provider relationship, you need the right front-end experience that makes the most of personal and behavioral data.

Customer Experience Insights for Telemedicine

As the traditional doctor’s visit transforms into telemedicine, customer experience leaders in healthcare must find new ways to leverage digital channels. Personalized mobile experiences will play a critical role in the success of telemedicine as it evolves alongside EMR integration and IoT-enabled devices.

However, there’s a gap to fill when it comes to mobile healthcare experiences. A survey we conducted showed that 63% of patients are indifferent to mobile healthcare apps, saying that they don’t believe the apps would make them feel more or less connected to providers. Just 18% said that an app would make them feel more connected to their doctors.

This isn’t an indictment on telemedicine. For now, the combination of current solutions and patient expectations hasn’t lived up to the potential of telemedicine. But if you look closer at the market research, the opportunity for more powerful mobile healthcare experiences becomes clearer:

  • 75% of respondents expressed interest in apps that would enable digital appointment setting for routine visits
  • 50% see healthcare wearables that sent data to their doctors as highly desirable
  • 55% are somewhat or very interested in apps that deliver personalized content based on their health profile

The reality is that patients are coming to expect the same kinds of experiences they get from consumer brands as they do from their healthcare providers. And even though there are still concerns over data privacy and quality of care, the opportunity is there for you to deliver innovative mobile experiences that capitalize on improvements in IoT-enabled devices and EMRs.

If you haven’t already, 2019 is the year to create a telemedicine strategy that gets ahead of these trends and sets you up to adapt to innovations coming down the road. The first step is to get a clearer picture of the current state of healthcare customer experiences.

To learn more about mobile apps and the patient experience, check out our free Trendspots report.