"Experience is a cruel teacher, it gives the exam first and then the lesson."
It isn`t rocket science to know that clients need real-time personalised experiences on mobile platforms. There is a difference of opinion regarding mobile applications, as younger people prefer apps, but the slightly older are sometimes not particularly comfortable. The smartphone is the most ubiquitous possession, even in the developing world and the challenge for every healthcare provider and professional is to figure prominently in the personalised interfaces to people. Social media is now the new source of information and advice and any information is scrutinised and discussed in groups and amongst people who may never see each other. Information and advice from blogs and chatrooms are sometimes more influential than coming from certified and trained professionals.
For people with chronic diseases like diabetes, it is quite important that the support is continuous because the time spent with healthcare professionals is small, but the battle against the disease 24/7 and 365 days a year. Health care professionals have to work within a tight regulatory framework with strict guidelines which are sometimes insufficient to guide people regarding specifics. Thus people find the need to read and make conversation with people with similar experiences. In today`s world, the client is more informed, empowered and make more informed choices. However, there is cluttering of information on the internet, which is readily accessible and often confusing. It has thus become mandatory for healthcare professionals and providers to have a significant online presence and maintain a good online reputation. Most services are now judged by their online presence and healthcare is heading in the same direction. An inclusive healthcare expects that the client is involved just not in decision making regarding their own health, but also in the design and execution of any new approaches. There is also widespread cynicism regarding medical practice and the virtual world has now become a place where misconceptions and negative opinions are expressed. This has also become a window to gain insights about client behaviours which can help providers, professionals and policymakers tailor personalised solutions. There is a tremendous amount of data that is being generated regarding clients every minute which can be used effectively for designing and planning solutions. It is here that the problem lies especially in healthcare, where extensive information may not always translate to suitably personalised solutions because the needs are extremely variable and perceptions may not convert itself to fact. All great ideas may not have an equal uptake when services go operational.
In this new virtual world, it is now vital to be net-savvy and maintain an online reputation. Clients demand trust, integrity and reliability from the providers. They also demand succinct, definite answers to their problems and queries. Levels of accountability are increasing and internet etiquette is evolving. Patient engagement has now extended beyond consultations and communication is more bi-directional. It is now second nature to type in keywords to gain access to information within seconds of hearing. It is also important for providers to handle questions and criticisms in a masterful, matured and professional manner. It doesn`t take long for a stray incident to become news and people to form opinions that stick.
So, the provider needs to be there and deliver, whether it is in the form of information or services. Providers that can deliver in a coherent, seamless and personalised way will be ahead of the rest.