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May 18, 2018

For patients and caregivers, clinics or hospitals serve as touch points for connecting with healthcare professionals (HCPs) such as physicians and nurses and seeking diagnosis and consultation. Medical representatives (MRs) and medical scientific liaisons (MSLs) also use these same touch points to share information and updates on different drug brands and related scientific information, submit samples, or capture HCP requests for brochures, medical guides, campaign information, and so on.

Today’s digitally empowered patients not only expect to be engaged by their HCP on a more meaningful level but also want to interact with them anytime, anywhere. And, the same holds true for MRs as well as MSLs.

In response, HCPs, hospitals, and clinics will have to embrace best-in-class digital technologies to provide rich, interactive patient experiences across the treatment cycle and communication and collaboration mechanism with sales teams.

Connecting with the Digitally Empowered Patient

With growing emphasis on accountability and high quality care outcomes, the question being asked is what must doctors do to become agents of change, and manage the growing expectations of patients? A physician’s workspace can consist of a digital kiosk with touchscreen panels where patients can select from multiple connect options. Self-service health kiosks at clinic’s waiting zones, such as the ones at the Royal Bolton Hospital, can help patient access information about disease conditions, instructions for operating medical devices, health and wellness tips, healthy eating habits, among others.

Such an interactive digital station can provide access to electronic health records with secure credentials, schedule appointments, and communicate with HCPs using different mediums such as video conferencing, online chats, and email.  Patients can also check their prescriptions and lab records, and print these out –  reducing administrative task load. These kiosks can moreover provide HCPs with the latest updates on emerging therapies, surgical procedures, drugs, and so on.

Digging Deeper into Patient Data

Hospitals can take patient engagement a level further with gamification solutions. Based on disease conditions, patients can access relevant games at the kiosks once they submit their activity data and medication schedule. This will allow them to unlock various levels and win virtual reward points, which can be redeemed for gifts, virtual trophies, coupons, or vouchers. HCPs will not only be able to access this data but also get a real picture of whether they are adhering to the prescribed medication regime.

The bigger picture here is that with these kiosks in place, hospitals and clinics will be able to acquire large datasets that reveal user actions and provide insights for measurement and analysis. Remarks, feedback, visits, hits, time spent, and heat maps will help better understand patient needs, allowing HCPs to further personalize patient engagement over these kiosks. Actionable insights can be leveraged for defining the marketing and communication strategy in various campaigns as well.

Medical devices (such as thermometers, pulse oximeters, weight scales, blood sugar monitors) embedded with sensors can capture patient health parameters. IoT-based wearables and similar devices can be used to record and store vital signs in the hospital’s health management system. This information can then be accessed by physicians through an authorized device, for planning and recommending suitable medications and treatment programs. This data can also be transferred to the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) systems, making it accessible to patients through digital kiosks.

Towards Better Medical Collaborations

With augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) solutions, HCPs can drive patient engagement through immersive experiences. Such solutions can be used to create interactive simulations of disease conditions, virtual representations of surgical procedures, drug action mechanisms, and even the inner workings of a medical device or an implant. Not only will this help patients gain a degree of confidence in their treatment but also allow them to understand how it works.

Similar to ProjectDR, AR solutions can allow physicians and patients to understand how medical devices work, and even perform virtual surgeries without touching a scalpel. Moreover, medical imaging data sourced from CT and MRI scanners can be directly transposed on to a patient’s body to improve diagnostics.

What other emerging technologies do you think will make healthcare even more patient-centric and ensure better medical outcomes? Please tell us in the comments section below.

Parimal Nagtode is a Domain Consultant working with Life Sciences Sales and Marketing Center of Excellence at TCS. He has been working in the IT industry for 17+ years, associated with Life Sciences and HiTech industries. Parimal is currently working on innovation areas such as Digital Marketing, RPA, and Machine Learning in the life sciences domain. Parimal holds a B.Tech (Chemical Engineering) degree from Laxminarayan Institiute of Technology, Nagpur


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