Convenience is the most important aspect of the new healthcare world.
These days, a sore throat doesn’t always warrant a call to your primary care physician. Instead, a quick search on your favorite health site can give you the information you seek and you don’t even have to leave your desk. Ever heard of WebMD? (Uh, yeah). The last place any of us want to be is in a doctor’s office, waiting to be seen, waiting to get an answer and just waiting to catch what the guy next to us has.
At the Virginia Society of Healthcare Marketing and PR (VSHMPR) Fall Conference, I learned consumers are no longer accepting the traditional patient-doctor relationship. We are empowered. We are informed. We are connected. And we’ll take drastic measures to avoid a doctor’s office.
That’s why One Medical Group is reinventing the doctor’s office. If you ask them, they prefer not to be categorized as a doctor’s office at all. They don’t treat patients, they engage with members. Appointments are not only guaranteed to start on time, but also last longer and offer a higher quality interaction. They also promote an online tool to help you avoid a trip if a visit is unnecessary. Thanks for worrying about MY schedule for once! These “concierge providers” are the way of the future and they turn patients in to people (or members, if you like that kind of thing).
Retail clinics, like CVS Health’s “Minute Clinic,” are also popping up across the country in response to this demand for affordable, convenient and low-hassle care. They offer the same services at a lower cost, and they meet higher quality standards than most doctors’ offices. Plus, you aren’t pinned to one location. You can receive the same (or better) service while on a business trip as you would at your local doctor’s office.
But what if you can’t even get to your corner drugstore? Just pick up the phone. Doctor on Demand and similar services allow you to speak to or video chat with a doctor or nurse on your mobile phone! Forget going in to the office, let me dial this number, speak to my doctor and get an answer without moving from my couch. Could it get much better?!
And don’t forget, mobile devices can be used for more than virtual visits. Companies like Cellscope are taking advantage and creating DIY attachment tools for your phone that will help you manage your health in the comfort of your own home. Other companies coming in to this market are eyeMITRA, MobileOCT, TellaBoomer and Apple HealthKit. Take a look. They have some pretty amazing stuff. Did you know you can take an EKG on your phone!? Seriously — you can.
Since we have access to information 24/7, we are able to connect to others who share our fears and concerns. Peer recommendations are taken just as seriously as a doctor’s recommendation. And a Yelp review may determine where you seek care. Turning to Google will yield hundreds of results for any concern and you have a multitude of strangers ready to tell you what fixed them. Who needs a doctor when you have those kinds of resources? Actually, we all need doctors, but the way that we communicate with doctors is changing, and it’s great!
The face-to-face doctor interaction previous generations have craved is diminishing. Mobile health is changing the way we, as PR professionals, must think. We need to make our clients aware of the change and help them prepare to embrace it. It is no longer acceptable to only have a brick-and-mortar doctor’s office. Healthcare providers are required to have an online presence while also offering online care! They need to be connected and offer patients the latest-and-greatest, convenient, time-saving tools.
As Kenny Loggins says, Don’t Fight It. (#ilovethe80s)
How are your health care organizations responding to this new convenience craving? Tell us in the comments!