Explore the jorney from e-commerce to e-health
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Explore the jorney from e-commerce to e-health

APRIL 18, 2024 BHH Members Initiatives

A healthcare consumer needs care, at least that's what you assume when you use that term. The moment care is needed, it is important that it can be found quickly. Usually, the person looking for care ends up in a jungle of topics. BHH member Webcamconsult zooms in on the journey of e-commerce with a follow-up of their last blog E-health in the footsteps of e-commerce, where they apply V.O.P.D. (view, order, pay and deliver) to healthcare.

When you buy something these days, say a new smartphone, you have quite a few choices. Normally you would go to any phone store or electronic retailer or maybe you still do. But nowadays, you are also approached online for all kinds of smartphones at the best price. If you still don't know, you also have all kinds of comparison sites like Tweakers (which is similar to SlashDot) or review platforms like Bright.

Quality over quantity

In healthcare, your general practitioner decides what care you need.

However, the consumer is increasingly used to searching for causes, symptoms and solutions on his or her own, when the need arises. Google is playing doctor and with the rapid rise of Artificial Intelligence, this phenomenon could be gaining momentum.

In Webcamconsult’s previous blog E-health in the footsteps of e-commerce, they compared e-commerce to e-health. E-commerce has evolved to the point where all product information is readily available. Manuals, FAQs and video tutorials, everything can be found online. But how reliable is this information?

When it comes to healthcare, reliability plays a much bigger role, as it's about human lives. Misinformation can lead to a misdiagnosis of an illness or a condition, incorrect treatment and/or a slowed recovery process.

If you are an online healthcare provider, there are higher requirements than there are for e-commerce. This is why, for example, the Dutch Government implemented the BIG-registration. This is an obligatory registration for healthcare professionals, permitting them to legally use the protected professional title and independently perform reserved actions associated with the profession.

If you are in the BIG-register then:

  • You have obtained a degree, a diploma from a recognized professional training and you are allowed to do your job without restrictions. Anyone can search the BIG-register for a healthcare provider. Employers or patients can thus see if a health care provider has the right qualifications. 

Know what you sell

Until 20 years ago, whoever ran the village store was the source of information about the products they sold. What is the best toothpaste, which vegetable is on sale and which ointment will solve my problem? Basically, that is the general practitioner of today. Without wanting to sell them short, because physical examinations and first aid are also part of a doctor's responsibilities. A patient comes to the doctor and the doctor gives advice. Often, the given advice comes as a referral to a specialist. However, research shows that many of these referrals are incorrect or unjustified. It is often risk-averse advice. In reality, you are "selling" the wrong product to the wrong person. Perhaps an ointment would have done the trick, but you are referred to a specialist. And that immediately shoots you up in terms of healthcare costs and it unnecessarily burdens a sector that is already busy and struggling with waiting lists.

These consequences impact everyone and we all pay the price.

Halfway healthcare

E-commerce has solved the search for the right product or service with specialized search engines. For example, you're looking for a house. How big, with a carport or garage, garden, balcony? With a whole host of search options, you end up with the perfect house for you. Wouldn't something similar be possible for finding the right care?

Say you have a red spot on your arm that worries you. Through online care, a dermatologist can quickly look at this and thus relieve the general practitioner. Furthermore, the consumer does not have to deal with travel time and stress. If the red spot turns out to be harmless, the treatment ends there and if it needs further care, then the patient enters a follow-up process.

Specialists and general practitioners can also work together via a video consultation. For example, in the case of more difficult diagnoses, the specialist can hook up online. In practice, this so-called halfway healthcare still happens very rarely.

Out with the old, in with the new

Healthcare is a fairly conservative sector. A few EHRs dominate the market. During the COVID 19-pandemic, many doctors accelerated their move to E-health solutions. After the pandemic, however, many fell back into their old ways.

Let healthcare learn from the lessons of e-commerce. Digitization is virtually limitless. Be open to innovation and embrace that which can help your patients and you as a healthcare provider.

Continuing with care the old way, where waiting lists are an everyday thing, backlogs are difficult to catch up with, aging populations are occurring and healthcare costs are completely out of control, is ostrich policy.

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