It’s kinda funny that 15+ years later, “disruption” is still a prized achievement in Silicon Valley and other places where innovation and future tech reign supreme. While the buzzwords and jargon might be cloying at times, the reality is that more and more business sectors are seeing huge, constant changes due to technology, and that of course includes the medical space.
Here’s a look at a few technologies that may already be changing the way you do business, or are about to.
Artificial intelligence offers a seemingly endless number of ways to improve the way we live and work. There are sure to be applications beyond our wildest dreams in 20 years’ time, but the fact is that AI is actually powering some tools to help your practice right now:
- Smarter EMR systems can improve patient relationship management through predictive analysis of what a patient may need, and when, based on a large pool of data and machine learning that improves communication and interactions with patients over time.
- Chatbots, which have until recently been fairly limited in the interactions they can successfully navigate, can now have more natural engagements with patients and leverage a huge database of relevant information. They might not yet be up to the task of replacing a savvy and experienced front office member, but they’re certainly closing the gap quickly. Very soon, a patient may not even know they’re talking to an automated representative of your practice.
- Content personalization gives you new ways to target relevant information to patients on your website and in both online and offline ads. For instance, if you have a billboard, you’ll be able to know which of your website visitors drove by that billboard (with phone in car) and how many times. From there, you may have different landing pages and offers on your site based on conversion rates of other people who have seen your billboard, along with many other factors.
While Google Glass fizzled out in all but niche applications, augmented reality can still have a place in modern businesses. One of the best examples in the cosmetic surgery space is Vectra 3D imaging, which most surgeons either know about or have added to their practice. There’s real demand for patients to be able to virtually “try on” what surgical results might look like, and it can be a great educational/discussion tool during a consultation.
The popular tool Understand.com is another augmented reality app within the medical space, allowing users to explore medical education through multimedia animations and presentations. And there very likely will be new and creative augmented reality apps for cosmetic surgery on the horizon.
You’ve probably heard about blockchain as the technology behind the precipitously dropping virtual currency Bitcoin. Or in the news stories of fly-by-night companies adding “Blockchain” to their name to dupe bandwagon investors. But it’s not just the butt of a joke – it is actually useful in a much wider context. For medical practices, big-name EMRs and some start-ups are using this technology to improve patient records management and security of protected health information (PHI). While it might not radically change the way you run your business, this technology may become essential for information security in the very near future.
With convenience remaining a key driver of user behavior on smartphones, many companies are working to improve voice interactivity so there’s less scrolling and typing to find information users need. Some examples:
- Voice assistants: Besides native assistants such as Google voice search, customized niche smartphone apps in the medical field may be able to offer detailed information and interactions regarding possible diagnoses, route users to appropriate medical help (medical clinic vs ER, for instance), and even help patients walk through their pre- and post-surgery experience.
- Website voice search: Very soon, your website may need to be fully searchable just by a user speaking into their phone. In fact, voice search could quickly become the dominant way to navigate websites, at least on mobile devices and smart speakers like Alexa.
- Spoken reviews: Every business owner knows that reviews are a pain. They’re hard to get, and you’ll never please 100% of people 100% of the time. But there’s big money in knowing what products and services are really pleasing customers, and one way to make it easier to get reviews and opinions is through an automated Q&A of sorts. Would you be more likely to review more products and services if all you had to do was press a button and give your thoughts for 10-15 seconds? It’s way easier than logging in somewhere and typing something out.
Human Connection Is Key
We’ve talked a lot about technologies that are very likely to change the way you do business. But at the end of the day, keep in mind that your practice is a service business, and you serve human beings. Human beings are in fact remarkably consistent and predictable in what they want. In the context of consumer interactions, they want to be respected, feel part of something special, receive value, and be heard.
If your practice is delivering on these things already, all you have to do is keep up with the pace of technological change and continue to follow your guiding principles. If you’re not, no technology alone is going to help to make up the deficit. There’s no doubt that the pace of change is extraordinary, and only getting quicker. Keep in touch with the human side of your business and make sure you’re continuing to provide the personalized service that is critical for practices to grow and succeed.