ePatients Redefine Healthcare Interactions

Healthcare spending has definitely changed over the last forty years, but quite amazingly, the dollars in healthcare are still going to the same recipients at the same rate. An NPR report tallied the changes in health care wealth distribution from 1970 to 2010, citing a mere 0.4 percent increase of money given to doctors and other health professionals and only a 5.8 percent increase in funds given to hospitals.

Despite the negligible change in healthcare fund recipients, there has been a significant shift in where our healthcare dollars originate. Out of pocket spending has decreased considerably, and as of 2010, the majority of healthcare funds come from insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid.
Shift in Healthcare Dollars

Because of the Affordable Care Act, many Americans wonder what the future of healthcare in our country will hold for them and their loved ones in 2013. Can they afford treatment? Will doctors be accepting new patients? No one can predict the path the healthcare industry will take, but going forward, Americans can count on progressive technologies pushing healthcare services and capabilities to new levels of patient care.

Fluctuations in reimbursement rates and accountable care organizations (ACO’s) will make it vital for hospitals and physicians to attract and retain a diverse patient base. As policy and trends change, an essential piece of advice we offer to hospitals and physicians is to strategically target the e- patient as an important member of their patient mix.

E-patients are educated, enabled, engaged and empowered. They download apps to manage and track their own health habits. They refer to the web for health information about loved ones’ illnesses, physician reviews and blogs written by people with similar diagnoses. In the last year, 59 percent of US adults consulted the internet for health information. Those who use health sites to self- diagnose medical conditions, referred to as “online diagnosers,” make up over a third of US adults, according to a Pew Internet Survey.

Looking ahead, healthcare organizations must recognize that the web is becoming a hub for healthcare and treatment. Seeking out e-patients and finding out where patients are browsing on the web is critical to creating an engaging, mobile-friendly online presence. If your healthcare practice is not interactive on the web, you are missing out on the opportunity to educate, stand out to potential patients and improve office efficiency. Fostering a strong online presence allows patients an outlet for positive recommendations and feedback, and in turn, organizations have control over their brand.

If healthcare providers begin to engage e-patients on a large scale, this engagement will necessitate dynamic changes in how healthcare providers interact with all of their patients. A strong online presence can increase office efficiency, create stronger relationships between the providers and their patient base and increase accessibility to doctors and other healthcare providers. These benefits will ultimately translate to healthcare organizations providing their patients with much more streamlined and effective services, giving Americans something to look forward to in the upcoming years.

Contact us at info@thedoctorsbag.com for more information on enhancing your healthcare organization’s online presence and engaging your e-patients.