There are certain loopholes when the present care model is carefully looked at, especially when you consider those who have logistical difficulties while working with analog heavy systems. For those, digital health tools can transform the accessibility front.
Having stated the issue, understanding of the target audience should be at the heart of the model. Stakeholders and IT developers must acknowledge how the design of a product can make it hard for people to approach healthcare. The difficulty level can be sometimes so overwhelming that they fail to use it altogether.
A patient advocate and healthcare IT consultant pondered upon how challenging accessing care can be at times, especially for a person with disability. While leading healthcare IT practice at a management consulting firm in 2012, she experienced a snowboarding accident. That left her with cognitive impairment alongside brain injury.
She had the chance of navigating through the healthcare system during her recovery period and that made her realise how much effort it demands. she said- “The effort to search and the access care you required can be overwhelming and It is challenging for everyone”, but if you add a disability it’s really challenging.”
To explain her point, she gave the example of difficulty faced during navigating screens because of cognitive impairment. While doing so irrespective, she felt physical consequences like triggered emotions and headaches.
She went on to support her argument by giving another example. If she wants to pay a paper statement bill online and the formats of the two stand different, it is incredibly challenging.
The challenges didn’t end there for her. She was quite demoralized even while refilling a prescription that involved numerous steps and challenges. The cumulative effect of all these problems made her understand how traumatic accessing care can be sometimes and the need for an easier process.
Irrespective of facing so many issues, she did acknowledge having some understanding of the healthcare system and patiently working around it. But for those who lack this knowledge or need instant access, the frustration can be unimaginable.
Having understood all the problems, how can formulators work around the product design and increase patient participation?
She did consider telehealth as a vital solution, but limiting oneself to video consultations is not appropriate. Rather, it should be a mix of different mediums like phone/video consultation or face-to-face consultations. Basically the intention is to provide a combination of physical and digital access.
The intention of healthcare developers should be to think beyond just formulating a product. rather, they should consider the perspective of patients and operate accordingly. To engage patients meaningfully, it is important to develop tools and systems that support the process.
SoftGrid Computers keeps patients and their needs at the centre of the model. At the end, patients are the consumers of healthcare products and hence they must be kept at the forefront while thinking of a functional care model.