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How digital health could help patients navigate their care

As many other industries have gone digital, consumers have come to expect the same degree of convenience and personalization in healthcare. However, improving the patient experience is still not always easy.

In a panel on Monday at the ViVE 2023 Healthcare Conference in Nashville, industry leaders discussed how digital health innovation can best enable patients to navigate the care journey with ease. But, in a world with an ever-growing number of technology solutions, it’s become increasingly challenging for organizations to decipher which solutions best fit their needs.

Alex Maiersperger, global principal at SAS and moderator of the panel, called it “app-a-geddon,” where there’s a “patient portal or app for everything.” One app helps patients make appointments, while a different app helps pay for appointments.

Karen Hanlon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Highmark Health, said the industry needs to focus on integrating across apps, rather than focus on the number available.

Dr. Melynda Barnes, chief medical officer of direct-to-consumer virtual care company Ro, added that collaboration between healthcare stakeholders could better serve patients.  

“We are trying to build an experience where patients aren’t getting fragmented care for [each of their] conditions,” she said. “Fragmentation is not a digital health problem, it’s a healthcare problem.”

But new technologies like AI could provide opportunities to improve the experience for patients.

“The key is getting to the point where we move the understanding of the patient much more upstream and allow people to take action early [in order] to prevent poor outcomes,” Hanlon said.

While the concept of AI has historically garnered some skepticism, Barnes said the industry must find ways to augment the human impact and empower the patient and provider.

“AI won’t replace doctors … Doctors who use technology will replace doctors who don’t,” she said.  

Ultimately, digital health innovation must put patients first.

“Nobody cares about their health more than the patient does,” Barnes said. “We need to make sure healthcare is easier and more convenient so people are actually able to get the care they need.”

Stephanie Chia, Russ Hinz and Susan Tolin will offer more detail in the HIMSS23 session “Equity on Chicago’s South Side: Connected Care Technology.” It is scheduled for Wednesday, April 19 at 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. CT at the South Building, Level 1, room S103.

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