Be More Than a Number: Discussing Personalized Care

The current healthcare system has been stuck in a reactive approach to medicine where patients are only being treated once a medical issue arises. This approach is not ideal, as it is a painful experience — both physically and mentally — for patients while causing increased health costs for insurers and patients.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Be More Than 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. With a personalized approach in healthcare, patients are enabled to become more engaged with their treatment plan through education and bodily awareness, empowering them to have an informed position on their medical choices. Physicians also benefit from personalization, as they can spend more time with each patient to create a tailored treatment plan and thereby deliver an enhanced quality of care. It also allows them to focus on the most at-risk patients and deliver earlier interventions when they notice something concerning. Personalization within the healthcare system will enable all people involved in the medical journey to help patients lead more fulfilling lives without pertinent health concerns.

Driving Forces

Healthcare Within Your Touch

The leading virtual care provider Doctor on Demand and their recent partner Humana formed On Hand, an health plan that centers on delivering comprehensive virtual primary care at significantly lower monthly premiums. With access to preventive care and digital health records, On Hand permits patients to engage with their medical data with ease, allowing patients to see a continuous and clear picture of their health. This permits patients to feel more engaged and educated about their bodies and disease states. Physicians are enabled to focus more on their patients and their care when using On Hand due to the platform’s easy navigation throughout the healthcare system that allows them to check in on any patient without trouble. Doctor on Demand is an example of personalized care that engages both patients and physicians in this new paradigm, as they are working together to provide a more holistic and personal picture of every patients’ health.

Beating Mental Health Stigma Virtually

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 online platform can begin whenever and wherever. Their newest program, Talkspace for Teens, promotes a judgement-free space for the younger generation to discuss their mental health with a licensed professional. The teenage demographic, specifically concerning mental health, is finally being recognized with Talkspace for Teens and meets the younger generation’s expectation of an effective and virtual personalized medical experience. This recognition allows patients to become more involved and open about their therapy and other necessary medical measures, not to mention finally taking an active and healthy role in their mental health through personalized behavioural changes. Talkspace’s personalized approach illustrates Generation Z’s expectation of a personalized experience in response to their medical issues and their lack of stigma around making behavioral changes for better health outcomes compared to older generations.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Guests Know Best

Personalization has not only become a trend within the healthcare sector, but it has also expanded into other industries, such as hospitality. Virgin Hotels created a mobile app and program called Lucy and The Know, respectively, that personalize the hotel guest experience by allowing guests to fulfill multiple requests and services virtually and according to their preference. Offering guests to tailor their hotel experience in accordance to their preferences in the smallest details — be it room temperature or personalized restaurant recommendations — allows them to make their stay actually feel more like home. Guests are encouraged to engage more with the hotel’s personalized platforms because they are given the opportunity to personally design a place that is most comfortable and accommodating for them. Virgin Hotels’ implementation of personalized platforms parallels the opportunity for patients to assume a more active role in their treatments and medical conditions when they have a closer partnership with their doctor.

Personalizing Drinks and Sports

In collaboration with Smart Design, Gatorade’s Gx offers a unique and personalized program of fueling and refueling according to an individual’s sweat profile collected through a mobile app, connected Gatorade bottle, weight station, and hydration pods, as a way to improve athletic performance. With a profile that collects individual data, each athlete is enabled to come closer, and perhaps ultimately achieve, their personal athletic goals in a tailored fashion. Rather than following a general athletic regime, athletes can beat their record times in a way that uses their individual information to help them understand more on how to personally improve. Gatorade’s work provides an exemplary model from the consumer space of how the combination of personalized metrics and individualized behavioural change suggestions can improve health overall.

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

Applying Design

Near-Term (12 Months)

Opportunities

  • Personalized Algorithms: Need to create algorithms that feel personal and effective while balancing and encouraging patient-physician relationships to enhance patient experience and physicians’ quality of care. Designers can help engineers create relatable experiences for patients and smooth workflows for clinicians.
  • Patient Involvement: Patients and physicians can make decisions not only primarily based on the best clinical outcome, but more on what is the best decision rooted from the patient’s life and preferences. Designers will be necessary to drive motivation from the platform to the patient.

Dangers

  • Mistrust: People, especially the Boomer generation, expect personalized treatment and value a personal touch altogether, yet a poorly designed platform could risk losing their trust in the technology and organization
  • Trouble moving forward: Algorithms that have not been designed with the complexity of human experience in mind, including looking at patients’ lives in a more holistic manner, will suffer from adoption problems and low engagement.

Long-Term (3+ Years)

Opportunities

  • Building a Strong Foundation: Successful companies’ personalized platforms build an improved relationship between patients and their physicians by encouraging patients to input on treatment plans and offering physicians tools to better their decisions. Designers play a key role in educating and engaging patients on winning platforms.
  • Spreading the Expertise: Physicians’ expertise will shine through with the use of effective digital tools that support their working relationship with their patients and their medical decisions. Rather than being overwhelmed with data, designers have made workflows a breeze.
  • Proactivity: The role of the clinician will be less preventative and more proactive with well-designed platforms that refine the detection of diagnoses at earlier stages. Designers will combine with sophisticated data science to flag and ensure action on the most at-risk patients.

Dangers

  • Avoiding Security Concerns: Poorly designed platforms that ask for patients’ data but do not return value will erode trust in their endeavor for the overall health industry
  • Lack of Interoperability of personal data: While a single major player controlling personal patient information disallows flexible patient engagement and access to medical information, having too many players could mean lack of opportunity to combine pieces into greater experiences
  • Misinformation: As we’ve seen with vaccine hesitancy, maintaining trust in the healthcare system is not something that should be taken for granted when implementing a personalized approach

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