The application of user experience in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries has moved beyond a recognition of value to something which will dictate the future of the sector.
The shift to Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has been happening throughout Europe, cutting costs and making the dialogue between fully-engaged citizens and health practitioners ever more fluid.
As an added dimension to the debate, pharmaceutical companies are waiting in the wings ready to be part of this digitally enabled conversation, speaking directly to both the newly empowered consumer who desires new degrees of self-management, and healthcare practitioners who are increasingly seeking online information.
EHRs as a Starting Point for User Centric Services
The mass transfer of paper-based health records to electronic records represent a huge information management task, but end-user experiences and good service design are of equal importance for the architects of these plans. 30% of all EHR systems fail and issues surrounding user experience are often the underlying reason - as the newly formed NHS Digital is fully aware.
NHS Digital - previously HSCIC - arrived in the UK this summer, and one of their key objectives is to increase the UX of their EHR systems with things like common user interfaces.
The NHS strives to be paperless by 2020 and in the run up to that time the citizen will experience a growing sense of control over their data, up to a point where EHRs will be as useful to the self-serving patient/citizen as they are to the centralised health service.
Pharmaceutical Industry Becoming Less Distant
Patients research their health online far more than they visit the GP, which puts them in a position of growing influence over their own treatments. Equally, health practitioners are using the net more and more to find out about treatments, drug trials and studies.
One outcome of this fresh dynamic is that both the general public and GPs will be seeking user friendly information directly from pharma companies.
The pharma industry has been slow to evolve a digital strategy which is fit to meet this demand, consistently failing to prioritise UX and customer-friendly digital corporate communications.
A recent report by EPG Health Media pointed out that demand for digital health resources wasn’t matched by supply, with only 15% of pharma marketing available through the digital medium. 76% of survey respondents acknowledged that achieving customer centricity was one of the industries major pain points, with 70% recognising the difficulties of multi-channel integration.
Whereas in the past, pharmas worked in something of a closed circle with health service providers, they now have to make their case in a much noisier ecosystem where their influence will be defined by the potency of their digital strategy.
As the patient becomes more actively involved in the state of their own health through electronic health records and health monitoring gadgets, and more consumer facing companies such as Apple and IBM enter the sector, pharmaceutical companies will need to adjust how they communicate with the wider world, adding a customer-centric approach to their more scientific brand image. As a consequence, digital and marketing agency cooperation with large scale pharma projects will escalate in the coming year.
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