Non-healthcare organizations that pioneered the third wave of digitization started by trying to understand what their customers really wanted; they then built up their initial digital products and services based on that information and expanded their offerings and customer base from there methodically. We think that this model would also work for healthcare. Success in the third digital wave depends heavily on the first understanding of both channel and service digital preferences of patients. But many digital healthcare strategies are still driven by untrue myths or information.
Myth 1: People don’t want to use digital health services
Many healthcare managers believe that patients do not want to use digital services except in a few specific situations because of the sensitive nature of medical care; decision-makers often quote data pointing to relatively low use of digital healthcare services. Indeed, our survey results reveal something quite different. The reason patients are slow to embrace digital healthcare is primarily that existing services are not meeting their needs or are of poor quality.People want to use digital healthcare services as long as they meet their needs and provide the quality they expect. Of course, nondigital channels will continue to be relevant and important, so digital channels will need to be embedded in a multichannel concept that is well thought-out.
Myth 2: Only young people want digital services to be used
Patients of all ages are more than willing to use digital healthcare services. In fact, older patients (those over 50), like their younger counterparts, want digital healthcare services almost as much. More than 70% of all older patients in the UK and Germany want to use digital healthcare services; that number is even higher in Singapore. However, there is a difference between the types of older and younger digital channels that patients want to use. Older patients prefer traditional digital channels like websites and e-mail, while younger patients are, surprisingly, more open to new channels like social media.A recent European Union report suggests that the type of service— not just the channel— should be segmented by age; younger patients, of course, want access to health promotion and prevention services, while older patients need acute and chronic service information. But both groups are looking at the same rates for information.
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