Technology is Getting Smarter

By Paul Meade, Patient Engagement Lead 

It has become apparent that in order for a healthcare organization to succeed, they need to be able to provide their customers with customized care, on-demand answers, and personalized treatments. For decades, achieving this level of customization was an impossible feat, but fortunately, technological advances have changed this. With each advance, we become one step closer to the ultimate goal of providing each and every patient with individualized service. 

A Different World 

In 2006 when I first started Thought Leader Select, the caliber of technology available to conduct patient research was a fraction of what is available now. To illustrate this point, dial-up internet, which is now seen as a relic of the past, was still widely used during this time! When collecting information regarding the patient experience, we relied heavily on in-person interviews, phone calls, email campaigns, and other techniques which are still useful today but limited in comparison to the advanced tools available in 2022. 

Recent advances in artificial intelligence, predictive modeling, machine learning, and advanced algorithms have made it not only plausible but practical, for healthcare providers and life sciences companies to collect, analyze, and utilize in-depth data regarding their customers. Programs like Brandwatch, a favorite of my team and me, combine advanced technical capabilities with visualization functions that allow us to turn complex data sets into user-friendly displays. Tools like these are playing an important role in transitioning the healthcare space from a one-sided care model where patients receive care and physicians advise, to a two-way street of communication. 

Fusing Technology With Human Intellect

While technology is great, it’s only part of the equation when it comes to improving the patient experience. You need to apply human intellect to every situation where technology is utilized in collecting, analyzing, and optimizing data. Why? All technology is created by humans and while this is tough to accept, no human is perfect. An algorithm that predicts a patient’s behavior can never be correct 100 percent of the time. The best way to minimize error is to work from a larger dataset, but in some cases, such as in research into patients with rare diseases, this isn’t an option. It’s our job to look at the data and judge whether or not it’s on the right track. 

The good news is that it’s not just technology that’s getting smarter: people are getting smarter, too. As technology advances and we’re able to analyze millions of data points with the click of a button, this frees up our bandwidth to perform tasks that only humans can do. We can program a machine to think critically but when compared to an actual human’s abilities to look at information, process it, and generate insights, the machine lags behind. Sure, it can go through a million pieces of data in the blink of an eye, but it’s not going to look at the data in the exact same way a person can. Here at Thought Leader Select, we’re big believers in putting a human eye on any dataset we generate. 

The End of One-Size-Fits-All 

I can say with absolute certainty that the future of healthcare isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Providers and life sciences companies need to ascribe to the idea that customization is not only better for their patients but better for their organizations. When patients are invested in their care, discussing treatment options with their providers, and involving themselves in the decision-making process, their engagement levels go up and this equates to better health outcomes. Collecting patient data to determine their preferences, opinions, and beliefs is an important step in improving our patient engagement strategies. It’s in everyone’s best interest to improve the patient experience and technology is empowering us to do that. 

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