Indianapolis, IN — “The doctor will see you now” has traditionally been followed by a walk down an antiseptic-smelling hallway, with a quick stop at the scale on your way to the paper gown. But today, it could mean your phone’s camera is about to light up, your email is about to ding, or even that you’re moments away from meeting a few new friends. All these new points of care are changing what it means to support doctors as they educate and motivate their patients.

Group Exams

More and more physicians are offering shared medical appointments. They can include a few patients or up to 16 people who share the same chronic condition. Generally, each person gets a short private exam and then they come together to discuss results and feedback as a group.

For doctors, the visits are just more efficient. Where they once spent hours and hours of the day explaining the same procedure or needed behavior change to patient after patient, they now have just a few, deeper conversations. For patients, the group interaction is more powerful. They learn from listening to questions from others in the group and connect around shared experiences.

The number of practices offering the group visits doubled in just five years.

Doctors On Demand

Nearly one million families used video consultations with physicians last year. That number is expected to explode in the next few years:

The consumer preference for video connections with doctors over phone calls is staggering. American Well, one of the leading providers of telehealth, reported that 94% of its customers chose video over telephone. This isn’t a trend limited to young families: American Well’s core customer base includes the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Rite Aid, United Healthcare, WellPoint and various Blues plans. 

Mobile may have been the tipping point for the switch. A quick click of a camera phone is infinitely easier to figure out than installing a webcam ever was. In that same report, American Well calculated that 60% of its customers used their smartphone or tablet for their video visits.

The overall reach of telehealth has grown substantially. As of late last year, 28% of broadband households in the United Stated had used some type of online healthcare communications, many had used it multiple times. Even many non-users are open to the shift. Parks Associates found that 51% of people who haven’t used telehealth are comfortable with the idea of communicating with physicians using online tools and 80% of those cite time saved as one of the main incentives to start.

Email Checkins

The trend has been slowly growing year over year. Today almost half of doctors are emailing with their patients. Smaller groups are connecting with them in even shorter ways – like text and instant messaging.

A recent study from Kantar Media found that nurse practitioners are even more likely than doctors to reach out to their patients in the inbox.

Interestingly, these interactions are truly incremental, supportive healthcare. In a retrospective study of 2,357, the Mayo Clinic found that there was no significant change in the frequency of office visits for patients who connected with their doctors via the network’s electronic messaging system.

Posted by: Leigh Householder

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.