Consumers Have Become Healthcare Researchers
Today consumers are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to help them manage their healthcare. Consumers no longer just blindly follow the advice of their doctor. They conduct research before they even select a doctor. They look up their symptoms in order to understand the medical conditions that they may be facing. They may know the kinds of diagnostic tests that must be done to confirm a suspected diagnosis. They will want to be involved in the decisions affecting their health care. A recent report revealed:
- Over a third of all Americans have used the internet in the last twelve months to research a medical condition.
- Almost three-quarters went online to look up some sort of health related information.
- Over half used the internet to research doctors and hospitals before making an appointment.
- The top items searched for were descriptions of specific diseases or conditions, treatments and procedures, and search engine listings used to locate doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities.
One of the main trends we see continuing to develop in the Internet of Things in healthcare in 2017, is the number of consumers turning to the internet for healthcare education. We expect these numbers to continue to rise.
Social media is a cornerstone of IoT. It is now being used to promote healthcare information. Individuals use social media to share news stories about healthcare advances and news. They discuss their medical problems and doctor recommendations with friends and family and can instantly have them all offer their thoughts and options on healthcare options. There are support groups online to offer support to people suffering from about any condition you can imagine, and these people use social media to find one another. Social media will continue to influence the way consumers approach their healthcare management in 2017.
IoT Online Medical Facilities
Many therapists, and even some medical doctors, have turned to the Internet of Things as a way to meet with patients; they may never see them in their offices. Patients meet with their doctor or therapist in the comfort of their own home via video conferencing. This also allows patients to select physicians or therapists that are across the country, increasing their healthcare options. Many new medical devices can allow physicians to monitor care online. Online pharmacies make it possible to receive your prescriptions at your front door. You can schedule an appointment, see your doctor, fill your prescription, have it delivered and you never have to leave home. This is convenient for both patients and their care providers, so we believe we will see this trend continuing as time goes on.
Digital Content Drives Consumer Choice
American consumers will often use the internet to search for information prior to scheduling a doctor’s appointment. The first step of the IoT Healthcare process for most people is to use an internet search engine to locate a hospital, doctor or other healthcare facility. They will check out the websites of the doctors and facilities they are interested in. They may visit the website of their insurance company. They will read the reviews and comments made by other patients before they decide where to schedule an appointment. Then they will discuss all their findings with their friends and family on social media platforms, before making a final decision.
This year, healthcare is a hot political topic in the country. There are many different bills and proposals going through the various levels of government. Healthcare solutions are sure to incorporate IoT innovations as the legal framework within the U.S. is modified. Make sure you keep up to date with all the issues being discussed and make sure you understand how the legislative changes will affect you.
Most healthcare decisions are driven by the digital content a consumer encounters. Pharmaceutical companies are well aware of this and they have made a concerted effort to influence this area of the internet. They are responsible for producing the bulk of the health related content that consumers are seeing and they are using this content to shape healthcare opinions. IoT is being used to connect patients, doctors, insurance companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers, in ways never before possible.
Healthcare providers and pharmaceutical companies are carefully targeting the consumer market segment that is researching healthcare related topics; and they are inserting their messages where they can be most effective. Some messages or sites are designed to get you to buy a particular product, or are aimed at getting you to see a particular care professional. Others are designed to make you find a competitor’s products to be less appealing. Most people do not do thorough research, and a lot of the information about healthcare that can be found on the internet is misleading. The companies that have the best SEO sites and highest search engine rankings will be seen as reputable information sources even if they are not. The competition for this market share will only increase as the year goes on.
This year politics is going to be the driving factor that causes the most change to the healthcare industry. As the issues are raised and discussed throughout the year, consumers are going to be making even more of an effort to educate themselves about current healthcare related topics. Healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies are aware of this trend. They are creating specific digital content designed to influence the choices consumers make about healthcare.
Consumers are also exchanging healthcare information with their social media networks each day. They are reading customer reviews and really trying to understand the best healthcare choices to make. Politics will completely change the face of U.S. healthcare in 2017. Be prepared for new developments and make sure you understand how any new changes will affect you and your family. As the Internet of Things healthcare technology advances, we will also see a lot of new changes emerge this year. This field is exploding and new developments are being made each day.