Digital Healthcare Trends You Need to Know

Posted / 12 July, 2022

Author / Enginess

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Digital healthcare is yet another area where mobile is poised to overtake desktop as the user’s platform of choice.

The world of digital healthcare is officially hitting its stride.

Patients are becoming more active participants in their healthcare and embracing digital healthcare solutions more than ever before. At the same time, healthcare costs are rising, and providers are on the lookout for innovative solutions that can improve patient care without increasing costs.

Industry-wide, major technological advances are revolutionizing how we think about healthcare.

Digital healthcare investment is also on an upswing. In 2015, funding in digital healthcare was twice what it was in 2013, and growth shows no sign of slowing down.

So given this growth, it’s worth asking: what are the major trends we’re seeing in the digital healthcare world?

 

Digital Users are More Involved in their Own Healthcare

A recent Google study found that Canadian users are researching their health online more than ever before, and taking an active role in shaping their healthcare.

Users can access health information almost instantly, and they’re using it to make decisions about the healthcare products and services they’re choosing to access.

Here are some highlights of the Google study:

  • Half of all Canadians are more actively monitoring their health (especially using online resources) this year compared to last year
  • When buying over the counter (OTC) health products, Canadian users were just as likely to consult a digital resource as a traditional source, like a doctor or pharmacist
  • Online medical resources are hugely popular: over 17 million Canadians regularly visit healthcare websites to research their symptoms
  • Some digital resources are more popular than others: 47% of users relied on search engines (mostly searching symptom keywords) prior to making an OTC product purchase, while 31% used brand websites or apps and 30% used advice/review websites, forums and blogs
  • Users are not only doing more healthcare research online – they are also turning their research into action. For example, 50% of users who did a web search for OTC products did so on the same day they went out and made a purchase, and 44% of users conducting online searches for hospitals made appointments after landing on a hospital website

Mobile is Taking Centre Stage

Digital healthcare is yet another area where mobile is poised to overtake desktop as the user’s platform of choice.

Today, more than ⅓ of searches for OTC products are done on mobile devices. But that number is increasing quickly: according to Google it’s increased by 19% over the past year.

Searches for symptoms and diagnoses are also increasingly conducted on mobile devices, usually at the first sign of illness.

As a result, it’s becoming crucial for healthcare providers to be visible and useable on mobile, and this is driving a major trend toward mobile-first design solutions.

App Use is Growing

iOS 9 health apps

Mobile health app adoption has skyrocketed in the past few years.

In 2015, 33% of mobile phone users had a health app on their device, up from just 16% in 2013. Investment in health apps has also increased dramatically.

Apps are also becoming popular with doctors and other healthcare providers. One example is Joule, an app recently launched by the Canadian Medical Association.

Joule CMA app

Joule gives physicians mobile access to clinical and professional development resources and allows physicians to connect with each other. Joule also provides grants to innovative projects, positioning itself as a tool that sits ‘at the heart of physician-led innovation’.

Video is Becoming an Important Medium

youtube health video

Video might lag behind search engines and brand websites, but it’s becoming more significant in users’ digital healthcare journeys.

12% of patients use video for symptom research and OTC product information. Most users say they are looking for video content that gives them useful and actionable information about their symptoms and remedies, rather than just entertainment.

Doctors and Patients are Embracing Non-Traditional Healthcare Solutions

doctor on tablet

Both doctors and their patients are increasingly willing to use digital solutions in healthcare provision.

According to a PwC report, 60% of all patients are willing to replace their in-person visit to their doctor with a video visit on a mobile device. In people under 44, this number jumps even higher: 72% say they would access telehealth services (i.e. a video conference) instead of a traditional visit with their doctor.

For their part, 58% of doctors say they would prefer to provide some healthcare digitally instead of in-person. 81% said that mobile access to medical information would enhance their patient care.

3 Tips for Putting Trends Into Action

What are the key takeaways for healthcare providers from these digital healthcare trends?

Be visible and searchable. More users are turning to online searches as one of their main resources. Making sure that you’re a top result in these searches – whether via Google, App Stores, or video platforms like YouTube – is vital. Having a strong web presence, being visible online, and improving your SEO are your key steps here.

 Focus on mobile. Mobile is the tool of choice for healthcare users who want instant answers to their questions, so it’s critical to have a site that works well on mobile. It’s even worth considering embracing mobile-first design solutions.

 Embrace video. While video isn’t the most popular tool for users yet, it is becoming increasingly important and growing fast. Having useful, informative video content is key.   

Conclusion

Digital healthcare is changing fast, as both patients and healthcare providers start to embrace non-traditional healthcare technology and users start to take an active role in their shaping their healthcare using online resources.

The changes we’re seeing in the digital health world can be boiled down into five key trends:

  1. Users are becoming more active in shaping their own healthcare solutions and monitoring their own health through digital sources (mainly search engines)
  2. Mobile is poised to take over the digital health world
  3. Health app use is growing
  4. Video is emerging as an important platform
  5. Both doctors and patients are willing to use non-traditional healthcare tools
Naturally, these trends mirror what’s going on in the rest of the digital world.

But the unique constraints of the health system and the huge demand for systems and solutions that are able to deliver, we think this is the space to watch for amazing new digital innovations.

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