How Healthcare Organizations Can Keep Consumers Engaged In The Digital Age

The pandemic has made healthcare virtual out of necessity. The success of healthcare companies lies in how they interact with digitally-savvy patients and consumers.

The pandemic has changed every facet of our lives and healthcare is no exception. While the healthcare industry was already tackling changes prior to the pandemic, the last two years have kicked into high gear the shift to digital.

Much of that shift stems from the changing needs of consumers and their evolving healthcare-related interactions. For many, those interactions are now a part of virtual health at home. Healthcare organizations that stay several steps ahead of the needs of consumers are seeing success.

Let’s look at what healthcare leaders are focusing on as they address today’s digital healthcare consumer.

A Value Proposition Catering To Consumers

Even as healthcare becomes more digital, the need for a strong value proposition doesn’t change, especially if healthcare companies want to engage consumers and patients in the virtual sphere.

Sami Inkinen is the co-founder and CEO of Virta Health, an organization with a lofty goal. Virta Health aims to reverse Type 2 diabetes for a hundred million people.

But as Inkinen notes, you can’t force a treatment plan on patients. “People have to opt in,” he says. “Just to give you one statistic, half the people, for example, living with Type 2 diabetes, when a provider says, ‘you have to be on insulin,’ half do not want to do that.”

A better approach to engaging patients, Inkinen says, is through a value proposition that is the right fit for your consumer.

“You have to make sure that what you’re actually offering is so powerful [of a value proposition] that most people raise their hands and say, ‘are you serious? So, you can reverse diabetes? How can I do that? And you’re telling me it’s free? My employer helpline pays it?”

Sami Inkinen

CEO and Founder of Virta Health

Tom Waller agrees.

Waller is the SVP of Innovation at adidas and a keen observer of human behavior. He’s used those observations to improve the health, wellbeing, sports and fitness industries.

Waller says healthcare consumers are looking for ways to improve their health, but motivation alone isn’t enough. A value proposition that considers shifts in tiny human behavior goes a long way.

“It’s not quite as sexy, but it definitely works,” he says. He adds that healthcare organizations that use knowledge alone as their value prop are likely not going to entice consumers to engage. He sums it up with a sweet example.  “We all know we shouldn’t eat too much cake, but we still do.”

Keeping up with shifting digital healthcare trends

The one constant in the age of digital healthcare is that the industry is constantly changing. That’s predicated on the evolving needs of healthcare consumers.

“In healthcare, we’re so focused on how care has been delivered, we miss that consumers have totally moved on from the way they live their lives,” says Drew Schiller, co-founder and CEO of Validic. Schiller adds that the pandemic has been a catalyst in that move.

Organizations that continuously anticipate changes in the needs of their patients and consumers are the ones leading the innovation and disruption we’re seeing today in healthcare, says Sarah Richardson, SVP and CIO Tivity Health.

Richardson says that digital health involves the use of many devices, but the interactions between these devices offers opportunity for delivering a smooth consumer experience.

“We are seeing a huge shift from that patient experience to a human experience [and] there has to be a way for it to be pretty seamless and invisible to the user.”

Sarah Richardson

SVP and CIO at Tivity Health

Richardson says that digital health involves a continuous journey of making the consumer experience as benign as possible.

“You think about things like in-ear monitoring as well, so if you need a continuous monitoring of how well someone is doing, sure you can have it on your wrist, but you can put things into somebody’s ear so it’s even less invasive,” she says.

There’s also an opportunity to use voice command in digital health, Richardson says, and it has great potential for making digital health more accessible and convenient.

But the key is to make the digital healthcare consumer experience seamless and non-invasive in our day-to-day lives. “If it’s invisible, you’ll use it, or if it’s easy to use, you’ll do it,” Richardson says.

The shift to value-based healthcare

Providers are seeing the rise of value-based healthcare, which entails physicians and hospitals getting paid based on patient outcomes.

Inkinen says that value-based healthcare is helping not only patients see improved health, but also helping providers by reducing cost. He offers the example of Type 2 diabetes, which is currently costing the U.S. healthcare system billions of dollars each year.

“These diabetes drugs that people are on to manage their disease can easily be $500, $600 or $700 a month, like insulin and SGLT-2s, and GLP-1s,” Inkinen says.

“These are ridiculously expensive branded drugs, and we typically get patients off of them in 30 to 45 days,” he adds.

“And as an immigrant, this is one thing that’s been slightly painful for me to learn, but if you don’t make people money in U.S. healthcare, good luck trying to commercialize. So, when you align the outcomes with the money, magic happens.”


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A New Era Of Healthcare

Healthcare is changing rapidly and staying ahead of these changes is necessary for organizations that want to remain competitive in the industry. At Emids, we help healthcare and life sciences organizations tackle these changes in a seamless manner for better outcomes.

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