You may recall that health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced that all patients would be able to access their full GP medical records online by 2016, yet according to a recent Accenture report, the response from healthcare providers has been “woefully inadequate.” While more than half of health consumers (54%) would like to use their Smartphones more to interact with healthcare providers, hospitals have only engaged less than 2% of their patients using mobile apps. Still, Hunt promises that within the next financial year, a quarter of Smartphone users will be able to access NHS services and medical records, book appointments, and arrange repeat prescriptions using a suite of health apps.
Hospitals are feeling the pressure from both ends, as they struggle to meet the demands of the NHS to provide patient access to online GP records and the mobile expectations of consumers. According to the Accenture report,
“Today’s consumers place more expectations on their providers to interact digitally, driven by the customer experiences they have had with services in other industries, and most providers are letting them down. Thus in the increasingly competitive healthcare market, providers that ignore the mobility needs of today’s always-on patients could lose them to competitors.”
In a recent interview with News Medical, Bob Zemke, Director of Healthcare Solutions here at Extreme Networks, weighed in on what the Hunt announcement means for healthcare providers. He shared the good news that although this is a significant challenge, it’s not one that is unique to healthcare. The lessons learned in those same industries that consumers are bench marking their healthcare experience against, can be leveraged by hospitals as they look to establish mobile and remote access capabilities that ensure the private nature of patient data.
The Accenture research shows that approximately 7% of patients have switched healthcare providers due to poor customer experience, which could translate to a loss of more than $100 million in annual revenue per hospital. Healthcare providers must move quickly to address their mobile shortcomings and create an effortless mobile experience or they risk the loss of customers and revenue.
Zemke feels that while we are seeing national and even private practices providing more patient engagement and enabling patients to see their own records, healthcare providers are faced with the unique challenge of how to maintain patient safety and security and how to find innovative ways to securely share that information outside of the hospital environment. He reminds us that while navigating this new direction, hospitals still have to deal with the usual struggles of annual operating budgets and priorities such as keeping the lights on inside the hospital, not to mention other initiatives that may be under way.
According to Zemke, some hospitals will fall short of the “very aggressive” national goals that have been set. Drawing on his 20 years of experience working internationally both within hospital IT and as a consultant in next generation network design, deployment, and management, in this interview, Zemke exposes the key factors that healthcare organizations will need to consider as they strive to meet this target.
The interview provides the healthcare industry with helpful insights on:
- What it will take to ensure that patient data is kept secure as they make medical records available online
- How online access to medical records will change and challenge the patient experience and doctor-patient relationship
- The role of wearable devices in the future of healthcare
- The big data challenges that will need to be overcome
If you are a hospital or healthcare organization faced with the challenge of securely meeting the digital and mobile expectations of the NHS and consumers, you will benefit from reading the full interview here.