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As digital healthcare services have established their role in modern healthcare, we are now facing a new challenge: instead of treating patients visit by visit, we should redesign our tools to support continuous, holistic and forward-looking care. The care companion model is the next chapter in digital transformation.
Day three in the flu. I feel worse than yesterday, and there is a cactus in my throat. Luckily I have decent painkillers that the doctor prescribed me two days ago.
In fact, the doctor said something about self-care. Too bad I can’t recall her words due to the non-stop sneezing and all the haze in my head.
We all have been this patient, surfing aimlessly on Netflix, drinking liters of tea, and trying desperately to memorize how many days to wait until seeing the doctor again unless things get better.
Now, let’s imagine how we could help this patient. We call this service concept a care companion.
Current solutions in healthcare display mainly patients’ treatment history. As the Electronic Medical Record systems, the EMRs, often define the entire digital strategy, the services focus on the individual’s past, not the moment at hand – or the future. These systems are designed for caregivers whose work leans heavily toward the patient’s treatment history. But for patients, the past offers only limited value.
For patients, the spotlight should be reserved for the current state of things and the plan forward: what is the patient’s situation now, and what can be expected next? Even in simple flu cases, it’s not always clear when to make a new appointment if the symptoms don’t ease out. When the patient’s anxiety is added to the mixture, lacking guidance becomes an issue.
The care companion speaks the patient’s language
The good news is that the information is already out there. Typically the doctor tells the prognosis and gives instructions to the patient verbally, maybe even writing them down in a word or two. Unfortunately, they might be soon forgotten.
Here, a new kind of thinking is needed. There is a great demand for a digital service, a care companion, that offers an overview of the situation and self-care instructions for the patient quickly and in understandable language. Such a tool also boosts patient compliance: when the instructions emphasize the benefits the patient gets, patients are more inclined to follow the guidelines.
A holistic view relieves stress and supports patient empowerment
The care companion model works for more chronic conditions, too. As people often have longer-lasting chronic diseases and acute illnesses at the same time, it is crucial to have a 360 view covering treatment history, current situation, and the plan forward for each diagnosis. An overall holistic view relieves uncertainty in a stressful situation and ensures that patients receive the proper care when needed.
As the first wave of digital healthcare services has rolled over the industry, it seems obvious there’s room for improvement and fresh thinking. We believe the care companion model is the natural next chapter in digital transformation – and, more importantly, a key enabler for patient empowerment.
Returning to that corner of the sofa, how calming would it be to have a clear outlook on your situation and plain self-care instructions at hand? Sipping another cup of tea, knowing there’s help available, just a click away.
Thank you: Mirjami Haimelin, Toni Kauppila