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Healthcare shopping; transforming consumerism in healthcare

by Shatakshi

Nowadays, with the increasing use of ICT services our consumerism is also transforming in every sphere. This change is also very much evident in the field of health. These days, if someone is going through a mild medical condition, they look upon the Internet for information on the probable causes of the condition. People also find online health services platform where they can review profiles of doctors and treatment options, allowing them to choose for the best health care provider and a treatment plan at a preferred cost. Booking the appointment and paying for it through the health providers’ web interface made it convenient for us to schedule the visit as per our convenience.

After consultation one can explore online pharmacies and avail medicine at the best prices at own doorstep. Today, we are not just a patient but changed into a customer with a ‘shopping list’ to choose from the best doctors, facilities and treatment at an affordable cost and at a time and location of our choice. The information is no longer remains unidirectional but bidirectional and consumer choices are made within and outside the clinical environment. This change has caused to the healthcare system to shift from a legacy ‘Public Distribution System model’ to a ‘Supermarket model’.

The healthcare companies are now increasing their focus on the quality of consumer experience by deploying technologies to make ‘care’ more accessible and personalised.

Also read: People following unhealthy dietary habits are more vulnerable to death caused by COVID-19; India is at high risk

 As evident, Technology is the main reason for the evolution of consumerism in healthcare. New innovations in  Artificial Intelligence, IoT, cloud computing, Big Data, mobility solutions, telemedicine, and quantum computing are making a paradigm shift in health operations. For example, AI makes it easier for health care providers through algorithms built for diagnostics of various chronic diseases. Augmented reality/virtual reality has already enabled doctors to conduct surgeries in far remote areas without being there.

Apart from this, there are a plethora of apps providing health services( like online consultation with a doctor, medicine delivery, booking appointments, etc.), fitness and wellness, dieting schedule etc. are enhancing the consumer mind-set and reciprocal engagement.

 Seeing the current trends, the upcoming future would be very different. The focus of health care providers is shifting more towards value enhancement across customer life. This will result in deeper collaboration between consumers and health care providers for before, during and after medical care services. As this new consumerism is growing, the healthcare providers will have to adapt to this new changing environment. The providers have to guide and engage customers while securing their loyalty. This will ultimately lead to the environment where access to care becomes easier, cost of care will be reduced and quality of care will be enhanced benefitting many consumers.

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