In the past few years, technology has transformed the way we communicate, interact and consume both products and services, affecting markets from travel to fashion. The healthcare industry is no exception, and as the average consumer expects more convenience, increased online communication and technical apps and gadgets, innovators are working to streamline and improve the customer experience through creative online means.

Here, we’ve compiled just a few of the ways that companies are integrating digital communications and online tools into healthcare to improve communication with patients and to create a more transparent, customer-friendly experience.

1. Online Communities and e-Patients

While pharmaceutical companies, startups, patient communities and providers began joining the social media world around 2010, many have now matured and broadened their scope. PatientsLikeMe, for instance, has expanded to over 1,000 conditions, CureTogether has gained the attention of major press outlets and 23andMe is defining personal genomics.

Additionally, both PatientsLikeMe and 23andMe have published results in medical journals, bringing further validation to social networks and social media as legitimate avenues for medicine.

2. Online Services Aimed at Easy Patient Experience

Many complaints about healthcare experiences involve long wait times and issues with finding the perfect fit in a doctor. Companies like ZocDoc are helping users take control of their own care by providing easy access to specialists in the area with information on insurance accepted and languages spoken. Meanwhile, innovator InQuicker seeks to put an end to excessive emergency room waits by providing the ability to “check in” online. After certifying that injuries aren’t life-threatening, patients are texted as their “appointment” approaches.

3. Mobile Apps

As smartphones have become pervasive, so have health apps that often have a social media component, whether that is the ability for a scale to post your weight to Twitter or the ability to transmit a diabetic blood sugar reading to a community. By and large, many people have taken their health quests online, and apps help monitor the body, motivate health and keep disease treatment under control. The Quantified Self movement, which is focused on this app-based monitoring, has expanded to 60 groups around the world and 400 tools.


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