The relationship between healthcare provider and patient has been upended. Digitization and an increasingly engaged patient have created new expectations, and traditional providers have been caught short.

While healthcare providers have been focused on outcomes, patients are demanding convenience. According to a 2019 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report, 80 percent of patients said they would switch providers for convenience alone.

Patient-driven care requires a new way of thinking. On one hand, providers need to respond to the likes of Google and Amazon, the in-store clinics, and the chatbot health providers by delivering care where patients are — in their neighborhoods, at home and at other easy-to-access facilities.

But on the other hand, an equally pressing need exists: providers must respond to the trust factor. The rapid rise of the tech giants in the healthcare space has raised alarm about data privacy and how patients’ data is being used. The Cambridge Analytica scandal woke the public up to just how vulnerable their data can be in the wrong hands.

The purpose of healthcare data should be to help patients get better. The use of a patient’s data for profit destroys that objective. But there is an opportunity to “wow” patients by leveraging data in a way that benefits them in an ethical way.

 

The purpose of healthcare data should be to help patients get better. The use of a patient’s data for profit destroys that objective. But there is an opportunity to “wow” patients by leveraging data in a way that benefits them in an ethical way.

 

To meet the expectations of the new, empowered patient, traditional providers need to reinvent their model of care. It starts by demonstrating transparency in everything they do and by working collaboratively with patients to deliver health benefits. If patients know and trust what their healthcare provider is doing with their data, and if they know that data won’t be used in a way that could potentially harm them in the future, they are more likely to be loyal and to work collaboratively with that provider.

One model that providers could consider adopting is becoming a data steward. At the start of the relationship, you explain to the patients how you will use their data — for example, you may broker care for them with other healthcare providers but only with de-identified data. And you guarantee you won’t sell their data to a third party. Such a model works only if the provider is completely transparent. You list everything in a way patients can understand, so they know exactly what will happen to their data. And then you reward those patients by providing discounted health services, similar to how retail cooperative models offer discounts to their members.

This can support the creation of more scalable care models, such as peer-to-peer counseling where, for example, a patient with well-controlled diabetes might be certified to monitor a pool of patients. As those patients start to realize improvements — improved diets, adjusted medications, better management of their glucose levels — you incentivize the lead patient. This might be in the form of cryptocurrencies or credits for a discount on their medication.

Patients may value convenience, but they also value trust, transparency and responsiveness to their care. A report from Press Ganey found that having well-coordinated care and good teamwork among caregivers is a priority for building loyalty.

To win back the empowered patient, the patient-driven care model must be reinvented. It must bring convenience — such as more telehealth services, easier access to appointments, and care centers near the location where the patient lives and works. But it must also be about winning the trust of patients who have rightly become suspicious of how their data may be misused by nontraditional players. Transparency and collaboration through well-defined cooperative models will go a long way toward regaining that loyalty.