Monday, Oct 24, 2022

Bridging the Gap Between Healthcare Providers and Their Patients

Katy AllenEVP, Managing Director of Healthcare, Bounteous

HLTH Foundation

File this one under unsurprising, but true: Women overwhelmingly drive healthcare decisions.

 

Individually, women are considerably more likely than men to carry insurance and visit the doctor. In the household, almost 80% of moms choose their kids’ healthcare providers. And a remarkable 59% of women, regardless of whether they’re married or have children, make healthcare decisions for another person, all according to data compiled by Aflac

 

To put it more starkly: A woman is nearly three times as likely to make healthcare decisions for another person as a father is for his own children.

 

This burden has become especially heavy in recent years, as intersecting challenges posed by the pandemic, the mental health crisis, the opiate epidemic, and an increase in chronic health conditions have compounded the outsized domestic responsibilities many women already endure.

 

The system is placing a major strain on caregivers and their families. 


Including mine.

 

A Dysfunctional Experience

 

Like so many women, I play the role of chief medical officer for my family, making the majority of healthcare decisions for my children, husband, and increasingly for my parents (oh, and for myself). As a mother to three neurodiverse children, with a disability of my own, I know first-hand that managing this complexity is exhausting. 


And the digital experiences that support our healthcare system only make matters worse.


The everyday stress is bad enough: 15 minutes sweating at the school reception desk, frantically trying to sign into a patient portal to find a message that will produce your child’s immunization records before logging into yet another portal to find the health insurance member ID for the field trip form. But in times of real health crisis, when a child or family member is in distress, the dysfunction is far costlier. 


There are straightforward reasons our system remains so broken. For one, fixing it requires that big organizations make big changes. Years of healthcare organizations following business-centered processes and investing in business-centered technology have made the move to patient-centered processes, products, and experiences excruciatingly slow – especially in organizations with moderate budgets and limited digital maturity.


But the reality is that the healthcare ecosystem can’t afford to ignore the experience of caregivers like myself any longer. Consumer expectations are rapidly, and rightly, changing. 68% are more likely to choose a medical provider who offers the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online. Additionally, over 50% of consumers say that one bad digital experience can ruin the entire relationship with a provider.

 

A New Way Forward

 

There is a tremendous opportunity for healthcare organizations to simplify the patient and caregiver experience. Recognizing the role women play as healthcare decision-makers, and designing experiences that meet their needs, is critical. It’s the pathway to building trust, achieving patient acquisition and retention, and ultimately driving topline and bottomline growth.  

 

A new generation of healthcare leaders have stepped up to fill this void, guided by clear missions and human-centered experience principles. Unsurprisingly, many are women who are motivated to solve problems that personally impact them.


Take Kimberly Wilson, the founder of Hued, a digital health equity company creating equitable and inclusive healthcare experiences for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. The platform connects patients with resources that make it easier to find quality care from doctors who look like them. But Hued didn’t stop there. They also offer a digital training and education program that teaches Healthcare Providers how to better care for communities that are typically overlooked and underserved. 


Or Rachel Trobman, who’s responding to patients' mounting desire to take control of their health journeys. She co-founded Upside Health, a digital health company that’s reimagining pain care through Ouchie, a platform that makes it easier for patients to track their pain and inform their care. 


Naomi Allen and Brightline have developed a digital platform that provides behavioral health solutions designed specifically for children and families. It’s a need gap that was amplified during the pandemic when the demand for adolescent mental health services spiked and in-network supply was miserably low. I can tell you, the struggle to find services for my children was painfully real and digital health played a significant role in getting my family the support it needed.  

 

Last but by no means least, there’s Blessing Adesiyan. Adesiyan is the founder and CEO of Mother Honestly, a worldwide benefits platform that helps women and families thrive at home and in the workplace. In October 2022, Mother Honestly launched MH at Work and its first product, The Work-Life Wallet. The Wallet puts the needs of the employee in their own hands. Instead of employers wasting millions on EAP programs, MH at Work gives employees the power to choose benefits that meet their unique and changing needs. That could mean childcare, buying diapers, caring for a parent – or even housekeeping or hiring a chef. They’re the solution we at Bounteous trust to offer flexible benefits that meet the real needs of our employees.


At Bounteous, we’ve been fortunate to partner with trailblazers who are driving change in this space, including Erika Jurrens, Executive Senior VP, Strategy & Commercialization at ABB Optical – the largest independent distributor in North America.

 

Erika and ABB recognized the need to create a human and simple-to-use experience that connects and strengthens patient relationships with their optometrists. Our teams, both led by women, partnered to create Abby, a patient and provider liaison that makes eye care easier. Guided by the principles of co-innovation, we personified the Abby character and launched an intuitive portal experience that makes appointments, ordering, and billing seamless. Empathy was the key ingredient, and ours was grounded in data and lived experience. 


Experiences like Abby make me optimistic about the future of healthcare. There’s a growing recognition that the need for change is urgent, and that the skeleton key for creating a system that works better for patients – and their providers – is to listen to, understand, and deliver on the needs of women. 


At Bounteous, we’re proud to be leading the charge.


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