physicians use WeChat for more than 30 minutes a day .
In 2019 , the Chinese Medical Doctor Association ( CMDA ) partnered with Tencent to build a WeChat app for continuing education and to issue digital “ provider cards ” to authenticate physicians .
Tencent also targets consumers with information about chronic disease management , healthcare products , and insurance options . Its WeDoctor app connects users to more than 270,000 healthcare providers and more than 7,000 hospitals that offer telehealth , making it a one-stop shop for consumers who are in the market for care .
Strategic implications Healthcare companies should invest in differentiating digital capabilities to capitalize on these opportunities . We see four promising strategic plays : 1 . Accelerate the patient experience 2 . Digitally transform the front line 3 . Reimagine processes and operations 4 . Disrupt data silos
Accelerate the patient experience Now that telemedicine and hybrid healthcare models have been normalized , consumers have new expectations about the services they receive , both in person and virtually . Healthcare companies need to remap patient and provider journeys to ensure coordination and integration are complete . For example , at a minimum , physicians need access to patient data during virtual consultations .
Providers also need mechanisms to measure the patient experience , such as the Net Promoter Score℠ , which measures a consumer ’ s likeliness to recommend a provider or service . Patients are the center of healthcare , and their feedback is a valuable asset .
Ideally , telehealth and digital platforms will create synergies between both care delivery models . Consumer feedback can help companies uncover the most patient-centric opportunities to improve experiences , outcomes , and value .
Digitally transform the front line Digital transformation needs to drive three key outcomes for patients , physicians , and providers : transformative patient experiences , world-class clinical outcomes , and operational excellence .
To be transformative , experiences need to be seamless across the care continuum for the entire length of the patient journey . Clinical outcomes can be augmented by more personal treatment plans and enhanced capabilities to predict disease , treat symptoms , and time interventions . Digital solutions can automate processes to increase efficiency and improve treatments and the experiences surrounding them .
Transformations aren ’ t about “ standing up apps .” Successful digital-health offerings integrate online and offline experiences , embed digital tools and processes , and interconnect key workflows . Aided by technology , frontline doctors , nurses , and administrative staff can collaborate more easily and deliver omnichannel healthcare experiences to consumers .
Digital capabilities also need to deliver speed and agility . To deploy and scale solutions quickly — while they are still competitive differentiators — most healthcare companies need support . Leaders need to weigh the strategic trade-offs of owning technology vs . partnering with others . An ecosystem of vendors and partners may be the quickest route to strong and secure digital capabilities .
Reimagine processes and operations Traditionally , consumers only interacted with healthcare systems when they were sick . A patient would show up at the hospital , receive treatment , and be sent home . The relationship revolved around an incident , not the person ’ s lifestyle or longer-term well-being .
That dynamic is shifting . Relationships are starting much earlier in the patient journey and developing outside of healthcare facilities . More patients are researching conditions independently , seeking out providers and referrals , and influencing decisions about their care .
Healthcare organizations can respond by designing more customer-led care models . Such models are multidisciplinary , but also location- and channel-agnostic . A customer-led care model considers all of a patient ’ s needs and designs a journey that optimizes outcomes , experiences , and costs . Simpler prescription experiences , health monitoring services , and remote physician support can ease a patient ’ s pathway to wellness — not just to healthcare .
Marketing , referral programs , and operations must adapt to these shifts in consumer behavior , too . Content strategies should answer patients ’ desires for more education , options , and support . By doing so , healthcare brands can position themselves as trusted partners , drive engagement , and convert consumers . Referral processes that leverage technology and automation can help consumers find the right specialist for a condition — and for their location , network affiliation , or other preferences ( e . g ., language or physician ’ s gender ).
Disrupt data silos Patients accumulate enormous amounts of data . In that data lies opportunity .
Data and analytics can be used to support clinical decisions and improve outcomes , manage population health , optimize operations , collaborate with payers , and improve the customer experience .
The key is capturing more information digitally and bringing it together in a centralized data lake where it can be expertly interrogated . Right now , most organizations measure services provided and associated costs , but fail to link the data points back to the patient journey . Information needs to be captured digitally , centralized , and connected to the patient experience .
With more data and the skills and tools to leverage it , healthcare organizations can do better for patients .
What ’ s next ? The public health crisis forced healthcare companies to accelerate innovation plans and deliver care in new , patientcentric ways . Patients have always been important . That did not — and will not — change . But now , healthcare companies understand what ’ s important to patients .
As they continue to transform and evolve , healthcare companies will find new ways to deliver quality outcomes plus convenience and efficiency . Digital skills and partnerships will be necessary to meet new demands and serve a more empowered segment of patient-consumers .
Bain & Company is a global consultancy with 64 offices in 39 countries .
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