The other day I read an interesting article about how medical simulation needed to catch up to consumer gaming. It talked about how many medical simulators use outdated technology and approaches. They “look like something out of 1992”. This made me ponder how not keeping up with change is an issue across the healthcare industry.
The games example is a good place to start. Consumer games face a highly competitive market and need to consider a number of elements if they are to be viable. They need to have a good understanding of their target audience and their behaviours. They need to also consider the commercial model – how will the game be monetised and marketed. Equally important are gaming best practices such as a good balance between challenge and reward, levels and high quality interaction and visual style. Consumer games cannot afford to feel old and clunky, or rely on outdated technology.
Healthcare related games need to follow all of the same principles. Even if the game is not going to be monetised it still needs to have commercial goals or a clear purpose. The game still needs to appeal to consumers and keep them engaged. With time the game then either needs to be updated or retired, before it starts to feel dated. In fact most of these principles apply to other digital activities from email to websites to apps.
It is not just in gaming that that healthcare industry needs to keep up with change. There needs to be an acceptance that digital is a main channel. It is a channel that offers benefits not just to patients but also to healthcare providers and companies. COVID-19 has further driven the shift in focus to this channel, but it has also driven a shift in expectations. For months people have relied almost entirely on the channel for their needs, including those in healthcare. Many people now want to maintain this shift in behaviour and they expect companies and healthcare providers to support this.
I would now be perplexed to see a pharmaceutical company investing in printed patient materials, especially if they do not have a viable social media presence. Physicians now also expect more and improved digital interactions from pharma companies. I think it would be interesting to see the impact of COVID commercially on pharma companies – have those that were more digitally enabled done better? My gut feel is yes – but also they are now better positioned to keep driving that momentum forward. Those that were not ready have been frantically trying to play catch up.
Change also impacts healthcare provision. I find it vexing that my GP surgery has clearly not kept up with change and does not support email communication. If I could I would change surgeries. Throughout COVID patients have also been less likely to visit their physicians – this means that there needs to be a high quality digital alternative. Being able to email your GP would be a simple solution. I have had the argument of “data security” mentioned a few times when it comes to email. However my Swiss GP managed to email me with no such issues. I would also question how secure my paper files are in a surgery or warehouse with minimal physical security. My surgery does have an electronic system but it actually does look like something from 1992!
Technology has moved on, as have our expectations. Our industry needs to keep up with the change – and it needs to do today.