By Russell Olsen, WebPT
Technology is disrupting the healthcare industry, including patients’ expectations about their care experience. Thus, healthcare organizations should implement technology that enhances the patient experience—and use behavior design to ensure adoption.
Health care always has been a hands-on industry; however, technology is rapidly changing the way practitioners provide care—and patients receive it. Tech solutions already have a track record of saving providers time and money, increasing revenue and patient volume, and improving patient outcomes. Perhaps the most important factor driving technology adoption in our industry today, though, is that patients want it. In fact, they’ve come to expect it.
“Driven by experiences outside of healthcare, consumers increasingly expect to use digital technologies to control when, where and how they receive care services,” said Kaveh Safavi, MD, JD—the head of Accenture’s global health practice. “By harnessing digital technologies in this way, healthcare will increasingly...put control in the patients’ hands.”
Indeed, this Accenture study found 71 percent of patients surveyed would take a class online to treat a medical condition, and 47 percent would rather engage in a virtual medical appointment than wait for in-person treatment. Thus, healthcare organizations would be wise to implement technology that enables them to provide this kind of care and thus, better serve their clients. While technology alone can’t improve patient satisfaction, “technology is an enabler toward a better patient experience and better patient engagement,” said Dr. Richard Milani, chief clinical transformation officer and practicing cardiologist at Louisiana’s Ochsner Health System. Or at least it can be—when implemented correctly, with the patient experience in mind.
Here’s how you can build your technology stack—the software applications that make up your organization’s tech infrastructure—around the patient:
1. Identify Your Patients’ Needs
Whether you’re implementing a practice management solution, a wearable device, or another type of digital caregiver collaboration tool, it’s critical to consider your patients in the process. In fact, technology adoption—and traction—should be less about the product itself and more about the “jobs to be done,” as Clayton Christensen explains in his book, The Innovator’s Solution. According to Christensen, it’s much better to consider the needs that arise in people’s lives—in other words, what drives a particular behavior—rather than simply what products and services they might use. (If you haven’t already read about Christensen’s milkshake example, it’s worth checking out.)
Thus, instead of focusing on the technology itself, first consider the needs that would drive patients to want a particular tool or software solution. What tasks do they need to complete—what emotional states do they need to reach—in order to get value from your system?
2. Apply Behavior Design Strategies
In order to drive technology adoption, you must first understand behavior design. According to BJ Fogg—the founder of The Stanford University Behavior Design Lab and the creator of the Fogg Behavior Model—three things must happen concurrently for a particular behavior to occur (for example, a patient completing his or her physical therapy home exercise program using a mobile application rather than paper):
3. Implement Deployment Best Practices
You can perfect everything I’ve suggested above to build your technology stack around the patient experience, but you won’t achieve much success unless you also implement best practices for organizing your technology team—and rolling out a new technology. Here are a few tips for doing just that (adopted from my own experience leading a high-performing tech team as well as this resource):
In the last ten years alone, technology has revolutionized healthcare. And this is only the beginning. As healthcare continues to move toward a more patient-centric, value-based care paradigm, technology must do the same. Thus, when you develop your healthcare tech stack, it’s crucial to remember that the key interaction is still between patient and provider, not between software and hardware. Designing systems that thoughtfully account for the entirety of the patient journey, reinforce positive adoption behaviors, and employ best practices will ensure your technology is working for the patient experience, rather than against it.
About The Author
Russell Olsen is Vice President of Innovation and Product Management at WebPT. He focuses on improving the patient experience through technology and leads category design, user experience and product discovery. Prior to WebPT, his roles included Vice President of Product and Innovation at IBM Watson Health, where he led the development and launch of technology to help care managers improve the lives of chronically ill individuals. Additionally, he led teams at Phytel and MDdatacor, uncovering new ways to look at data to help care teams improve the quality of healthcare. Olsen graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in electronics and information technology. He also received a certificate in Disruptive Strategy from Harvard Business School in 2017.