Consumers today are accustomed to streamlined service and rapid response—expecting choice, convenience, access, and quality when they shop for both goods and services. But when it comes to health care, consumers’ digital-based expectations are mismatched with what care providers can actually provide. Closing this gap will require a change in the way we approach patient encounters, alignment in digital methods, and new metrics to assess their effectiveness. At Partners HealthCare, this change has begun in earnest.

Moving health care into the digital realm to better serve patients’ needs is about more than building websites with eye-catching bells and whistles; it’s about an evolution to virtual care methods for routine care, freeing in-person encounters to focus on complex diagnosis and treatment. As Brigham Health tests the use of virtual outpatient visits in a pioneering randomized trial this year, another study is examining the use of virtual health coaching for patients with high blood pressure across a large population at Brigham Health and Massachusetts General Hospital. The data we extract from these and other studies will be used to support appropriate scaling, matching full adoption of digital approaches with their proven measurable benefit.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, internal medicine physician Adam Licurse, MD, Medical Director for Telehealth at both Brigham Health and the Partners HealthCare Center for Population Health, lays out more of the steps required—and challenges to overcome—in order to apply a digital retail mindset to a complex health care system built around in-person interactions. He points out the systemic cultural and systemic evolution needed to implement cost-effective virtual care tools. And he argues that providers must embrace these changes and adapt to meet the future head-on, in order to maintain patient loyalty in an increasingly digital world.

Read Dr. Licurse’s full article here.

Image credit: Harvard Business Review.

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