Yogesh Agarwal, Founder, Onsurity

Prior to embarking on his entrepreneurial journey, Yogesh started his professional career as a Statutory Auditor with Anil Agarwal & Associates where his role largely focused on statutory and concurrent audit, payroll processing and taxation. He then went on to join Bhudev Chatterjee Consulting as an Actuarial Analyst. In 2012, he joined KPMG Global Services Pvt. Ltd as a Senior Actuarial Consultant where he covered Indian and International Insurers and Reinsurers on P&C Actuarial Reserving and Pricing, transaction advisory, model validation and development, technical provision under Solvency II, capital modelling and transfer pricing.

 

For several years healthcare has been operating on an episodic engagement level where patients have been reaching out for medical assistance on an “as-needed” basis. For a long time, this episodic nature of healthcare has kept both consumers and healthcare providers from exploring the digital nature of the sector. However, the times are changing now. 

Healthcare consumers have started comparing digital experiences that they get from across multiple industries and platforms with those given by the healthcare sector. This comparison has led to the entry of several non-traditional healthcare businesses and highly disruptive health-centered technologies like AR/VR, AI, wearables, etc. into the marketplace. But when we talk about the scope of digitalization in healthcare, it is not necessarily as complex as the inclusion of future-forward AI and Blockchain like technologies, it also around bringing healthcare services on platforms where the consumers are and giving them the infrastructure to perform prevention-related healthcare.

Today, healthcare consumers are consulting doctors through video calls, ordering medicines online, downloading their health cards on phone, and paying their hospital bills through UPIs. Technology and digitalization are now playing a crucial part in the end-to-end healthcare ecosystem. In this changing face of healthcare consumerism, it has become crucial for the industry to give its customers a truly digital experience.

However, for an industry that continues to operate on a traditional model with doctors still noting the symptoms on a notepad and patients filling out a form and waiting in long queues, this move to digital healthcare will not come easily. At Onsurity we have experienced a contrast of thought between consumers digital expectations the healthcare industry’s limitations to deliver on it firsthand. Our customers – the employees – expect digital-first healthcare benefits but the group health insurance providers are generally married to the traditional route of care delivery. Here are some approaches we have adopted to engage consumers in a digital space. 

How to engage healthcare consumers in the digital era?

Give consumers comprehensive virtual care

Even before the pandemic consumers had started showing an interest in virtual health services over in-person care. But ever since COVID-19 has come upon us, the convenience factor has become a dependency. Today, people have started relying on digitalization for every medical need – tracking their health or getting consultations from doctors, or initiating the claims process. 

For a business, this means they will have to provide a range of healthcare benefits to the consumers on a digital-first mode. The best way to achieve that is by understanding the consumers before, during, and after they become patients. An understanding of how their expectations change from stage to stage can help the healthcare industry understand which experience or event can be digitalized.  

Bring care to patients on-demand 

When we hear the word on-demand, we think of consumers who want things at their own time and convenience.  This is exactly where the healthcare domain is headed. Consumers today want services that they can use on an on-demand model. They want to consult doctors when they get free from the office, order medicine at the last moment or book medical checkups for after 3 hours after they wake up in the morning. 

For a healthcare service provider, achieving this would call for strategic partnerships with the on-demand service providers. By partnering with healthcare delivery partners like Netmeds, 1mg, PharmEasy, etc. They will be able to connect care with their consumers in real-time. 

Make customers feel empowered

Patients have now started seeing themselves as customers, who are out to purchase not just a service but an experience. At the back of the many healthcare options available in the market today, patients are becoming highly informed consumers. It can be an experience of a private hospital room, the convenience of getting doctor consultations at every waking hour, or simply an app reminding them to take their medicine. 

There are two key differentiating factors that have come under the limelight when we talk about healthcare consumer choice. 

  • Importance – Consumers need to believe that their healthcare provider has taken their needs into consideration while designing every facet of the healthcare offering. 
  • Empowerment – Although empowerment becomes a limited term when we look into healthcare, patients want to feel in control when they receive healthcare services. One way the healthcare industry can make it possible is by customizing some elements of the care process. Some ways of doing that could be by giving them a platform to track their health, giving them the information, they need to take a medical decision, or simply making healthcare service accessible to them.

The consumers need to believe that they are in the driving seat when it comes to their health. 

Keep the focus on digital security

Even though the digital-first consumers are comfortable sharing data online, the focus on data security should be kept at the center stage. 

Healthcare businesses will have to be completely transparent in terms of how the patients’ data is being used and what they are doing to ensure that the consumers’ classified information is protected. With the digital-inclined patients, transparency in terms of data usage is the key. 

Seamless experience across platforms 

Today’s digital healthcare consumers are not just on mobile. The need to keep a better track of health has brought them on platforms like wearables, home assistants, and several other IoMT devices. 

For a healthcare business this means two things – 

  1. They have to bring their offerings on every device the user is on 
  2. They need to offer a seamless experience between those platforms – meaning the users should not feel a friction as they track their walks on their smartwatch and analyze the health pattern on their phone.

Delivering a digital-first experience to the healthcare consumers is the need of the hour for every healthcare business looking to survive in a competitive landscape. The attainment of this, however, is dependent on partnerships between hospital and technology-led care facilitators. Only when the two spaces work in cohesion, the patients will be able to get an accessible, personalized care.

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