Healthcare facilitated through a digital interface—such as app-enabled biometrics and all forms of telemedicine, including retail kiosks—is becoming as commonplace as point of care visits. What’s going on with “virtual healthcare,” and how can pharma benefit?
A recent survey from Accenture revealed 78% of US consumers 18+ would be interested in receiving “virtual health” services if given the chance, and 21% indicated they already used some form of non-personal service, including telemedicine, biometric tracking, and reminders/health management with their HCPs through mobile apps. Although the number is 1 in 5 of the total, that demonstrates a sizable increase from a similar survey conducted 18 months ago, where only 9% stated they used these digital services.
The relative year-to-year increase is also optimistic in terms of this year’s rationale for utilizing virtual technologies: 37% cited convenience over traditional in-person healthcare as an important factor; 34% demonstrated familiarity with the technology and its use for health; and 34% expressed curiosity strong enough to give virtual health a try. The potential influence of their physician for embracing the technology seemed a motivating factor for 44%, while encouragement from the payer side was cited by 31% of consumer respondents.
Perhaps most significantly, a majority of consumers felt that virtual healthcare should become an integrated part of their overall health experience. Specifically, a combination of in-person and virtual health services were asked for by 78% of those surveyed, and 85% saw the combination as confirming they were in control of their own health. The relatively high level of consumer engagement also bodes well for health systems, which according to Accenture would save billions through heightened efficiencies, better data management, and increasing consumer engagement.
Companies from digital health startups to major payers are taking notice, partnering-up to connect the dots between health system stakeholders and throughout the continuum of care. As we’ve seen the patient-centric revolution is complemented perfectly by personalizing non-personal promotion for HCPs, today’s digitally activated point of care as the nexus for multichannel decision making and support. As the interoperability challenges between diagnostic tools, EHRs, and patient apps are eventually overcome, the 78% of today’s consumer interested in using virtual health will have their opportunity to benefit.
Opportunities abound for pharma to play an increasingly important role in virtual healthcare. From helping to improve outcomes to building patient connections, expanding support to personalizing care, emerging technologies help contextualize content and create relationships. As the industry evolves “beyond the pill” to an expanding role as healthcare consultant and partner, a holistic approach that seamlessly integrates every touch point—virtual and actual—will help make our brands more adaptive, and our audiences more responsive.