Oakland, CA – In recent years, several of the traditional attributes of our modern healthcare system have been challenged. Much has been said about the system’s need to shift its focus from being reactive (treating illness/addressing symptoms) to proactive (systematically encouraging healthy behaviors, preventative measures, and earlier diagnoses). Kaiser Permanente, however, has made a substantial shift on another front. Their CEO Bernard J. Tyson recently announced that the majority of the interactions between the hospital giant’s healthcare professionals and patients actually happened virtually, not in-person. He went on to state, “For the first time, last year, we had over 110 million interactions between our physicians and our members.” The majority of these virtual interactions occurred through a myriad of different channels, including digital kiosks, smartphones, and videoconferences.
So… What’s in it for the Patient?
Since Kaiser Permanente is partially a not-for-profit, it has additional leeway to put patient needs ahead of maximizing revenue through additional procedures. While skeptics may question the patient value of virtual consultations versus the traditional in-person office visit, Tyson sees significant upsides for patients. “What were now seeing is greater interaction with our members and the health care system. They’re asking different questions, they’re behaving more like consumers, and medical information now is becoming a critical part of how they’re making life choices.” For more information on this topic, see http://fortune.com/2016/10/06/kaiser-permanente-virtual-doctor-visits/.
Why This Matters –
This shift from in-person consultations to virtual touch-points certainly speaks volumes around the impact of technology on the healthcare system, but it also signifies more than that. It points to a paradigm shift in how healthcare engages the patients it serves. Historically, the medical community held the power and thus patients came to them, but in the age of the consumer-driven company, we find true patient-centricity emerging. As this trend builds steam, healthcare marketers must align their messages and overall approach to fit this power-shift.