For a growing number of people, the main way to communicate with people, both personally and professionally, is through their smartphones. While digital communication has become widely accepted, there is one place where its adoption is lagging: health care. U.S. News and World Report points to a Nielsen survey that shows that the vast majority of medical professionals in the United States do not use e-mail or text messages to communicate with their patients.
Physicians welcome new forms of technology in their practices, and smartphones seem like a logical way to improve patient engagement, patient adherence, and patient empowerment. So why don’t more doctors text or e-mail their patients? The fact of the matter is that the reluctance of physicians to embrace digital communications with their patients has little to do with technology.
Doctors want to offer the best possible care for their patients but, like anyone who provides a service, they also want to be paid for it. Doctors can easily submit a claim for an office visit or a medical procedure but, as U.S. News explains, the insurance system is not currently set up to reimburse a doctor’s digital communication with his or her patients. But that is starting to change, healthcare reform has shifted insurance models toward compensating doctors for the quality of the care, as well as patient outcomes. But insurers still need to formally recognize these communication changes.
Regulatory restrictions are another barrier to doctor/patient digital communication. Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, healthcare providers must take steps to ensure the privacy of patient information. Some forms of digital communication are just not secure enough to meet HIPAA requirements. With some effort, a physician can find a telecommunications and software services that meet federal security requirements, but the burden is on the physician to find these providers.
Even though digital communication with patients has a long way to go, changes are on the way. Demand is driving the IT sector to develop new technological solutions. “The generation of young and digitally native doctors will help expedite this process,” U.S. News says.
To learn how you can become an active part of healthcare’s digital transformation, be sure to attend Digital Pharma West, taking place June 13-15, 2016 in San Francisco, CA. This year’s event brings together more than 250 pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device innovators from organizations of ALL SIZES who are implementing company-wide digital ecosystems to embed digital health across all channels to enhance customer experience. To learn more about this event please download the brochure or visit the website. Click here to register and be sure to mention Priority Code C790BLOG.