Adrián Alcántara
Director General
Doctoralia México
/
Expert Contributor

Challenges Ahead for Administering Medical Consultations

ByAdrián Alcántara |Mon, 06/13/2022 - 09:00

The pandemic has impacted the world in the last two years and has also accelerated digital transformation in countless industries. Focusing on the medical industry, where Mexicans increasingly search for health information on the internet and book appointments, the administrative management of medical consultations has several challenges ahead. One of these is digital inclusion to provide people who have not yet joined this trend the possibility of having a trustworthy, efficient consultation with automated and optimized processes.

Deloitte, in its report, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) Market - Forecasts from 2021 to 2026, highlighted that “the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a positive impact on the growth of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) market, since due to the outbreak, the health industry was under extreme pressure and it is expected to undergo a major technological transformation.”

In this context, we have to consider what is the behavior of our society regarding the use of the internet in recent years. For example, if we refer to digitally active patients, one out of three patients already book an appointment through the internet, and in the last year, the number of users who want to book an appointment online has increased by 96 percent; In terms of consulting information online, one in four users daily searches for health information on the network. Eighty-nine percent of them use search engines to find information on health and 32 percent use specialized websites, according to a study by OdelaRoquette.

The Digital Divide in Mexico

Last year, according to data from INEGI, Mexico had a population of 84.1 million internet users. This figure rises every year, and although that is encouraging in a decade where digital transformation is imminent, we have to consider what their main activities are on the network and, in that category, buying products or services is among the lowest actions taken, since only 27 percent of this population does that (INEGI).

These data reveal the great challenge that the medical community faces in the coming years. Not only do we have to focus on digitizing offices to offer a better experience to patients by optimizing management, we must also build appropriate communication channels to promote digital inclusion in health.

We need to promote it mainly to those people who today use the network but who still do not contract medical services through their smartphones or computers. It is essential to build trust and credibility so that when they take that first step, they are sure that they will receive the appropriate management of the digital consultation if at any time their health demands it.

Digital Patients: A Growing Community

Returning to the concept of Patient 3.0, which is defined as a person who proactively solves their health problems through technology, Doctoralia delves into their behavior: “digital patients respond to a profile that uses the internet on a regular basis, searches for high-quality information about specialists and medical services, makes appointments with specialists through the internet and participates in conversations about health on the Internet, either through social networks, forums or blogs.”

This nascent community, although experiencing a boom in recent years, has been developing in the last decade and is clearly beginning to establish the path of administrative management of medical consultations: we have to be an Office 3.0, “since it will help us not only to better connect with patients, but it will also allow us to have more time to carry out those tasks that have a greater impact and will allow us to manage the practice more efficiently.”

However, this does not mean that the digital patient is forged alone. On the contrary, we must accompany and advise him in the transformation of our industry, since, in this type of online experience, what he most wants is to obtain personalized treatment and remain close to his doctor.

Toward Full Digital Inclusion

In this sense, for example, according to the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) in its report Digital Solutions for Health and Disease Management (2017), “in France and elsewhere in Europe, digital health remains an evolving concept: the technology already exists, but the structure of European health systems, combined with relatively low user awareness and knowledge, means that digital health is far from being a usual experience for the majority.”

The same thing happens in Mexico within administrative management. We must raise awareness and educate the population about a latent reality: the platforms and tools already exist, they are within reach, but as the EPHA says, “making the best use of digital innovation also means supporting health professionals to become competent guides and advisers, thus helping patients to gain more knowledge and control over their conditions in a safe and inclusive way.”

For this purpose, we must also consider that the IoMT is an industry in exponential growth not only in the development of medical devices but also in the generation of software for the automation of administrative management processes.

According to a study by Deloitte, the global market for the Internet of Medical Things is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.55 percent during the forecast period to reach a market of US$257.162 million in 2026 from US$55.324 million in 2019.

Engage With New Digital Patients

It is evident that the digital transformation in the medical industry takes significant steps every year. In that sense, what can we do from the side of administrative management so that the internet user has a more active role? Certainly, one of the ways to ensure digital inclusion is to focus part of our efforts on promoting consultation from medical digital marketing.

Practices must be attentive to the trends that are revolutionizing the health sector to create communication platforms and campaigns, which will serve to generate trust and build relationships with new patients.

From mindful marketing and email marketing, to the creation of specialized online platforms, such as Doctoralia, and websites that are well adapted to mobile devices and with visibility on the internet, these will be key factors to add users who still do not see an option on the network to optimize their healthcare and, also, to manage patients who today demand more facilities, agility and speed when it comes to finding a specialist and scheduling an appointment.

The administrative management of medical consultations is moving toward the digital future, and administration professionals must be prepared for the technological advances that arise because their role is essential for the proper functioning of the offices.

But we must also channel these advances toward the inclusion of those internet users who still do not manage their queries from a digital platform and, also, as indicated by the EPHA, technology “should not increase the digital divide by exacerbating health inequalities and excluding vulnerable groups, but should contribute to closing the gap and providing better health for all.”

Photo by:   Adrián Alcántara