One of the barriers that change in medical care is facing is an increased trust deficit between clients and healthcare professionals. Clients find it increasingly difficult to rely on the opinion of a single medical practitioner and often go in boundless doctor shopping and sometimes waste valuable time in beginning formal management. This is extremely disappointing because a trusting doctor-patient relationship is at the foundation of good healthcare. Most people however accept that though there are a few rotten apples, healthcare professionals on the whole aim to do a good job. The main antagonism is towards the delivery of healthcare where the main complaint is that far from it being a delightful experience, clients feel that they have not got their money`s worth. Because of this, there is extreme cynicism and suspicion every time a new form of management is suggested. People are scared to go to a medical practitioner and the thought of falling ill or developing a chronic ailment terrifies them more than falling ill. Unfortunately, patients do not have confidence in the services provided. Whether it is mere misperception or fact based on people`s experiences is anybody`s guess. Though major healthcare providers have gone on a patient contact and public relations overdrive, the fact is that nothing much has changed.
However, all is not lost, because on the question of remote management and algorithmic management of illness, most people are sceptical and want to speak to a real doctor for their problems, rather than speak to a computer. Secondly, since healthcare is a mandatory service for humans, there is a bigger and easier possibility that these problems can be rectified.
The most important bit of the approach is to convince people that we appreciate their concerns and we are genuinely interested in improving the client experience by first understanding where the misunderstanding is and taking proper steps to solve this and verifying whether we are successful. As healthcare personnel and providers, we need to be empathetic and use words which improve effective communication. The best start is to accept that there is a problem.
A robust traditional healthcare system with good mobile health support can make a good start. Currently, the perception of mobile health for some is that healthcare professionals wish to further distance themselves from patients. Though people do desire empowerment to an extent, there is also need of proper engagement. The fact that digital health and telehealth helps patients by avoiding unnecessary visits, but this by no means distances patients’ needs to be explained. In this regards smart business models need to be evolved often in conjunction with interested clients. This promotes transparency which is the most important desired element in medical practice.
Digital health improves continuous patient contact and intervention, which used judiciously can evolve a system that cares. On-demand education of patient and their relatives, step down care following hospital discharge and on the whole access to help 24/7 is the most desirable element of healthcare for the rich, poor, educated, not so educated alike.
People who can pay, always wish to pay, but do not wish to be taken for a ride. An ill person is vulnerable and has multiple anxieties and medical management is only one of them. We must assume that every patient is well connected and every advice, treatment or procedure is being scrutinized in various parts of the world in an instant. Effective communication and delivery of the correct information is the key. Healthcare professionals should be transparent and bold and stand scrutiny voluntarily to win the confidence of the people.
People are extremely knowledgeable and sometimes confused with the information overload these days. All they need is to be led in the right direction. Honestly, the time that I get to spend when I do not don the doctor`s coat and be with clients as people are extremely insightful and rewarding. People do not expect too much. All they need to see is the human in that coat. They are aware of the changes all set to sweep healthcare with the advent of better algorithms, supercomputers, AI, Deep Learning. Some of them are even involved in building some of these. But currently, technology needs a gradual introduction, because the climate needs to change and the air needs to be cleared.