Be More Than a Number: Discussing Personalized Care

We will examine the possible design opportunities and dangers of personalized care, and close by sharing some of the driving forces that informed these opportunities

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Be More Than a Number

The demand for a better patient experience has been the most popular topic in the healthcare industry, where patients, providers, administrators, and other key players within this field concur that the implementation of personalized care is a must for a new health model. With present-day technology, it is completely possible to integrate a healthcare business model that makes patients feel more than just a number. Personalized care is the process of taking each patient’s unique conditions, including their medical history, risk factors, and preferences of care, into consideration to prepare and deliver a more personalized treatment plan and overall experience. From all of its possibilities, personalized care ultimately promotes the concept of reciprocity — the patient-physician relationship is significantly enhanced, allowing the patient to engage with the treatment plan and receive a more personalized patient experience while the physician can provide an improved quality of care.

Applying Design

Opportunities

  • Personalized Algorithms: Well-designed platforms should create personalized, sophisticated, and trustworthy algorithms while also maintain patient-physician engagement
  • Patient Involvement: Patients and physicians can make decisions not primarily based on the best clinical outcome, but more on what is the best decision rooted from the patient’s life and preferences

Dangers

  • Mistrust: People, especially the Boomer generation, expect personalized treatment and value a personal touch altogether, yet the trust is not fully there
  • Trouble moving forward: Early personalization algorithms will become more sophisticated, but they will have some teething problems

Opportunities

  • Building a Strong Foundation: Successful companies create effective personalized algorithms while building — rather than compromising — a better working relationship between the patients and their physicians
  • Spreading the Expertise: Physicians’ role will not become limited — their expertise is leveraged more efficiently and on a more personal level, where digital tools will support the dynamics in their relationships with their patients
  • Decreased Mortality Rates: Well-designed platforms will refine the detection of diagnoses at earlier stages, leading to a decrease in healthcare costs, depreciated mortality rates, fewer hospitalizations, and a focus on automated and unique medication prescriptions

Dangers

  • Avoiding Security Concerns: Poorly designed platforms do not properly implement security measures that can avoid data breaches and other problems or increase the level of trust from both patients and physicians
  • Lack of Interoperability of personal data: Patients will not be able to have flexibility with their medical information, such as sharing their personal data across multiple healthcare networks, due to a single major player owning the personal patient information
  • Legally Vulnerable: Redefining the ownership rights, regulation laws, and intellectual property rights are just some of the legalities that can halt the progress and fullest potential of personalized care

Driving Forces

Doctor on Demand has become the leading virtual care provider in the United States as they connect their patients with board-certified physicians, psychiatrists, and licensed psychologists via voice, video chatting, and messaging. Their partnership with Humana formed On Hand, a platform that focuses on comprehensive virtual primary care. While On Hand attracts patients for its affordable, accessible, and virtual qualities, it also interests physicians because they will have the opportunity to direct their focus on delivering the best possible patient care. As physicians concentrate on their patients, the patients in return will engage even more with their doctors and treatments due to this personalized approach.

Talkspace is a leading virtual platform that personalizes mental health for each consumer by matching one of the 3,000+ licensed therapists with a patient through an assessment, where their communication via text, chat, or video calls can begin whenever and wherever. Their newest program, Talkspace for Teens, not only addresses the company’s mission of tackling the stigma of mental health, but it also bridges a major gap in mental healthcare. As 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, offering young adults the ability to receive professional counseling is extremely important. Online counseling is a natural fit for the younger generation due to their familiarity with current technology, not to mention the stigma- and judgment-free space Talkspace creates compared to the mental health resources available for teens at schools.

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Personalization has not only become a trend within the healthcare sector, but it has also expanded into other industries, such as hospitality. Virgin Hotels have created a mobile app and program called Lucy and The Know, respectively, that help elevate the hotel guest experience. Lucy allows guests to virtually personalize their stay at a Virgin Hotel by checking into the hotel, make dining reservations, change temperature in the room, and other requests and services. Not only can a guest ask anything through the mobile app without any in-person contact, but they also have access to the chat board where conversations with hotel staff and other hotel guests are possible. The Know further delivers a personalized guest experience, as this preference program encourages direct bookings by providing their lowest rates, room upgrades, and personalized daily offers, such as mini bars, menus, and bed service.

“The more you let us Know, the more we can pander to your every desire and Personalize Your Stay so everyone feels better.” ~Virgin Hotels

The sports industry has also employed personalization, as seen with Gatorade’s Gx platform that delivers personalized sports fuel recommendations to change the way sportspeople hydrate and improve their athletic performance. With their collaboration with Smart Design, Gx offers a unique and personalized program of fueling and refueling according to an individual’s sweat profile — how much sweat and sodium lost during different training and performance conditions — to ensure that each athlete continues to operate at the best hydration level for them. Gatorade’s Gx has multiple components, including the mobile app, connected Gatorade bottle, weight station, and a range of hydration pods with personalized formulas by flavor, sodium, and carbohydrate levels.

Gx is able to “extend [their] brand into the personalization space. The result has become PepsiCo’s new standard in using a design-led approach to shift from product to product/service ecosystems.” ~ Xavi Cortadellas, Global Head of Innovation and Design at Gatorade

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