Articles, PSQH March 7, 2014

WhatsApp Lessons to Engage Patients

by Barry P Chaiken, MD

Information technology has achieved some amazing changes in consumer behavior. Over the last 20 years, companies have decreased their costs simply by transferring the work previously done by employees to consumers. For example, think about the last time you took an airline trip. You probably bought your ticket online through an airline or travel website. You printed your boarding pass at home, at the airport kiosk, or pulled it up on your smartphone.

If you checked a bag, you entered the data into the airport kiosk while the agent simply checked your government ID and placed the tracking tag on your bag before tossing it onto the luggage belt. Does anyone miss the paper folder we used to hold our boarding passes and itinerary?

If you reviewed the typical airport counter a decade ago, you saw more than a dozen agents working quickly to assist travelers. Today, just two or three agents hold court at the counter. Instead, you see busy travelers doing much of the work formerly done by those agents. Numerous other industries present a similar story.

Rather than think this consumer engagement only benefits the companies deploying the technology, consumers embrace these new processes because they also obtain benefits from doing so. While information technology assists other industries to reduce costs and improve processes by transferring some of the work to engaged consumers, healthcare lags in its use of information technology to similarly engage patients.

Excerpts from: WhatsApp Lessons to Engage Patients. PSQH, March/April 2014

 

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