New Trends in Healthcare Industry in 2021
In 2020, in a very short period, COVID-19 became an unparalleled disruption to all areas of the healthcare industry. But thankfully, the world is now recovering from the damage. With the New Year, and COVID-19 vaccine we are all hoping for better days ahead.
Although there has been slow adaptation of digital tools in the healthcare industry in the past, to recover from the losses incurred during the pandemic, innovation is now much needed. We cannot deny the role of digital media to keep the world united even during the pandemic when we all were trapped inside our homes. The effect of healthcare technology and digital solutions was felt in many different ways than we could have expected. There are several examples of overcoming the crisis during these tough times with the help of digital means.
Healthcare Digital Solutions are the way forward
Since inception, DigiLantern has faced challenges in making the healthcare practitioners and brands understand how digitalization can change the dynamics. Word of mouth has primarily been the biggest marketing tool in Indian Healthcare Industry but it doesn’t work like that anymore. The world now doesn’t depend on references to choose healthcare services. People are more aware today and want to do a thorough research before making the final decision. Online services in all sectors have seen a surge as people could not step out even for the basic daily needs. Usually, as the statistics show it is mostly the young crowd that engages on social and digital platforms. However, during the pandemic even the elderly had to adopt telehealth. So, the healthcare providers felt the need to facilitate services like online appointment booking and consultations, e-prescriptions, door-step delivery of medicine and so on. They understand now that it is the way forward to attract, treat, and retain patients.
An additional advantage of digital health is the convenience it provides to the patients. So, it will not be an exaggeration if we say that there is no going back now. However, in our country a large population is still not connected through digital media. So, this is a concern that needs to be discussed at all levels of the healthcare industry.
Telemedicine and Virtual care
During the lockdown, both the patients and the healthcare practitioners realized the importance of digitalization. The number of virtual consultations has skyrocketed during the pandemic. There are several benefits of telemedicine and virtual care including the reduced risk of spreading contagion and enabling the healthcare practitioners to conduct more patient consultations in a day as the slots are pre-determined and the necessary steps of sanitization are not needed as in the cases of physical consultations. We as a country are now also realizing that this is of great help in bridging the gap of doctor-patient ratio.
Telehealth and Digital Marketing go hand in hand
The pandemic has almost entirely changed how the healthcare industry in India operates. With telehealth, hospitals are now also concerned about reaching patients online, how to deliver and protect the patient information. There’s almost an 80% rise in consumption of digital healthcare services after COVID-19. Healthcare practitioners and hospitals are now exploring new possibilities with digital media and it is only possible by being ‘visible’ online.
By online visibility we mean having a strong presence over the web which can happen through Web Solutions, Mobile Applications, Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization, Educational Videos and Social Media Optimization. It is important to be available on all these platforms for two reasons: one, we don’t know which platform the patient is searching you/your services on; and two, the patient would want to cross-check the information about your healthcare brand. This is why, at DigiLantern, we believe in developing custom web solutions that are a true representation of a healthcare brand. Just being ‘visible’ in the eyes of the prospective patients is not enough. To make them trust your healthcare brand, you need to share the right information through educational and procedure videos, patient testimonials and before-after pictures on various platforms. These are the prerequisites of online lead-generation that definitely can’t be ignored. But, the journey doesn’t end here. Lead management is as crucial to ensure that you keep the trust that you have built through digital media and convince the patient to consume your services.
Increased demand of Data and AI driven predictive analysis
There has been a rapid rise in the amount of health data collection during the pandemic. When the benefits to individual wellbeing are clearly expressed, there is a readiness to share personal details. Track-and-trace programs have majorly helped in keeping infection levels under control. The coronavirus pandemic has hit the healthcare industry badly which a layman may not have realized. Healthcare practitioners and organizations had to bear losses as the patients were not ready to visit the hospitals for medical procedures and surgeries. There is still some reluctance and people are being very cautious in choosing the hospital’s basis of precautionary measures against COVID-19. This further develops the need for prediction tools powered by Artificial Intelligence for optimising the use of available resources even in the times of crisis. It is expected that in 2021, not just hospitals but medical insurance firms will also invest more in predictive analytics to be prepared for unforeseen dangers.
AI, IoT and Smart Cities – Digitalization in Public Sector
It is great to see how the government is approaching digitalization in different sectors. The concept of ‘Smart Cities’ is going to promote and utilize digital infrastructure and data driven decisions to plan an entire city. Collecting, storing and processing the critical data on a large scale will open many possibilities. From planning public transport networks, the storage of waste, the delivery of electricity, initiatives in the field of environmental health to predictive analysis Smart Cities may lay the foundation to predict and prevent future pandemics. This can be powered with additional tools like AI and IoT.
After the pandemic, governments and organizations are more focused towards building digital infrastructure and preventive healthcare. But for now, 2021 will be all about mitigating the devastating effects of COVID-19 and rising again. Environmental health is also a big focus, as it is high time to take initiatives to control the pollution levels, rising temperatures and sea-levels.
The author is a Co-Founder & Director of DigiLantern (www.digilantern.com/HealthCare/) & LanternMeds.