There’s no denying it, physicians aren’t exactly known as the most technologically advanced profession out there. However, with the latest developments in technology, the paradigm is shifting and HCPs are becoming increasingly present digitally. What’s more, the latest breakthroughs in digital tech are making it easier than ever for physicians to interact with a large number of patients and improve patient engagement. Here are some of the ways in which digital can and will improve the way HCPs engage with patients in the future.

Improved health literacy through better digital content

One of the biggest issues plaguing modern medicine is health literacy in patients. According to recent research, almost half (47%) of all the respondents have limited health literacy. The percentages vary across EU countries (29-62%) but they are problematic across the board.

Health literacy in patients is the ability to make rational decisions concerning their health in their everyday lives. As such, it is of vital importance for pharma brands, physicians and most of all, patients themselves.

If patients fail to understand basic medical terms, written instructions by physicians simply won’t work. As a consequence, there are higher hospitalization rates, lower adherence and poor patient engagement and outcomes.

Digital tech can improve health literacy by multitudes by educating patients about their conditions, diagnosis and treatment. This can be done in a number of ways, with different digital platforms.

For example, one of the easiest ways to engage patients is through animated medical video. With a solution such as MedExplainer, you can present your patients with their course of treatment, how their disease affects them, and explain ways to adhere to treatment. Video is much more efficient than text at capturing patients’ attention. What’s more, information from video is much easier to remember than if it’s just on paper or a screen. The best part is that animated medical videos are extremely easy to share, using website, email or any other digital platform.

That’s not to say that more old school techniques should be neglected. With MedPoster, you can create a medical poster with ease, and explain a disease with gorgeous graphics and easy-to-understand language. You can print out the posters as pamphlets or brochures or hang them up in the office as posters. They don’t have the inherent shareability of video, but they amplify your health literacy efforts and make sure you cover all bases.

Easier scheduling = better patient engagement

If you were to ask a random patient about their biggest worries in healthcare today, the vast majority would include scheduling in their list of woes. In a US-based study, the shortest amount of time before seeing a cardiologist after scheduling was 6 days, and the longest was a whopping 32 days. Data differs across therapeutic areas, and the wait times are even longer for dermatology, for example.

As today’s patients aren’t too patient, wait times have to be shorter. Millennials in particular aren’t too keen on picking up the phone for a call. This is where digital tech bridges the gap.

In 2016, the number of patients scheduling appointments via digital was 34%, with predictions of rising to 64% in 2019. Services such as Zocdoc allow patients to easily schedule an appointment online. Their goal is to enable patients to see a physician within three days from scheduling. However, using their service, most patients see their doctor within 24 hours.

For those patients who really don’t want to take a trip to the office, there’s some great news. Patients today (and in the future) will be able to reach physicians directly through video chat. Companies such as Doctor on Demand have been working on telemedicine for years.

It remains to be seen how willing physicians are to accept telemedicine in practice, but it seems like they will have no other choice. A study by IHS Markit suggests that by 2020, there could be approximately 45.6 million virtual consultations. Across the board, adoption of telemedicine is increasing year after year, to much delight from patients worldwide.

It is inevitable that digital tech is making major changes in the healthcare landscape in the years to come. As more and more physicians accept digital as a way to get work done, there are high hopes for patient engagement reaching unsurpassed levels in the future.

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