The Value of a Doctor in 2015
We’re going through a dramatic shift in the healthcare industry that is counterintuitive to common sense. With that shift comes one undeniable fact.
Medicine as we know it is changing, and medicine as we know it tomorrow will not look like anything that we can imagine today.
Traditionally, medicine would rely solely on a physician’s experience and clinical judgement, but for years, people have been clamoring for less ‘clinical judgement’ and more data. While this data may seem desirable and valuable, we are now learning that data in and of itself is of no real value. It is only actionable data which differentiates itself.
As an example, a mobile app which gives a pulse oxygenation of 85 % is of no value without additional data. Is this reading from a 20 year old man or 90 year old woman? Does this represent an improvement from a previous, lower reading? In other words, it is counterintuitive to think that any data is of value when actually it is only the actionable data that has real value.
While we continue to gather more data, we have to re-define what we expect from the new trillions of data points we have access to on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the prevalence of medical data and information online is leading to the diminishing value of an actual doctor, along with the service that is provided to the patient.
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of Internet users have looked up health information online within the past year. 77% of the users who looked up health information online used a search engine, compared to 13% who started their search on sites such as WebMD.
52% of smartphone owners have used their phones to search for medical information using a web browser, but according to the Pew Research Center’s 2012 Mobile Health Report, only 19% of smartphone users have downloaded an app specifically to track or manage their health.
One way for medical professionals to create extra value and continue to provide outstanding service is by providing complimentary WiFi access in the waiting area of their office.
According to Vitals.com, the average time spent in the United States waiting to see a doctor during a visit was 21 minutes in 2014, up 6% since 2012. For the people who are patiently waiting, free guest WiFi is one way to provide value in that 21 minute window. It’s even possible to use that WiFi network to curate custom content for guests, connecting them to to related medical news and information they may have an interest in learning more about.
At the Rodeo Drive Women’s Health Center in Beverly Hills, CA, Dr. Peter Weiss and his staff are encouraging guests and visitors to use their waiting time as effectively as possible. The RDWHC has found that offering complimentary high-speed WiFi (with SocialSign.in) for guests has led to an increase in patient satisfaction.
While traditionally this type of behavior has been frowned upon (we’ve all seen a sign asking us not to use our phones in the waiting room at some point), the free access has actually helped streamline the questions and concerns many have prior to meeting with their doctor.
Internal data from the RDWHC has shown that 45% of all guests who connect to the WiFi network spend an average of 20-60 minutes using the network. By encouraging patients to connect to the WiFi network and research their issue while waiting, doctors have found that the time they spend together is more productive, which leads to better a better experience during their visit. This is where the value of a doctor truly shines: to expertly provide advice and comfort.
Doctors can save your life, make you feel better and comfort you at the same time. Nothing will replace the hands-on approach a great doctor can provide to his patients. In the future, however, it will be the doctors who create extra value for their patients, with value-add services such as complimentary high-speed WiFi, that differentiate themselves from their competition.
In these complicated times in the medical industry, doctors who provide care for those who are in need and cannot afford the appointment are the ones creating the true value. It is the compassion and comfort of a doctor that a computer will never be able to replace.