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The digital doctor is ready to see you

Zurich, 22 June 2021

With so many services making the switch from face-to-face contact to online, the idea that the latest technological advances will also make their mark in the field of telemedicine is a no brainer. Awareness of the priorities of potential users is key to the acceptance of such platforms, begging the question: What are main hurdles and drivers of success when implementing this technology?

The Eurapco Lab teamed up with the Spanish insurance company, Caser, to carry out research on the application of Digital Health Markers app in the field of telemedicine. The study, which consisted of 20 in-depth interviews with patients and GPs (General Practitioner), aimed to reach an understanding of how customers/patients and medical specialists would respond to a platform that allows a health check to be performed by way of a 30-second video selfie taken on patients’ smartphones.

The research concludes that telemedicine and Digital Health Markers will not replace physical contact. Participants consider Digital Health Markers to be an interesting concept that can improve the relationship between patients and their doctors. It can also help enhance diagnosis and monitoring, speed up processes, and facilitate and increase the frequency of personal interaction. In addition, participants mentioned that this technology gives them the sense of having an ‘always-on connection’ with their general practitioner, potentially providing even greater value for chronically ill patients.

It has always been very important to be able to keep track of our health. Digital Health Markers provide new tooling, new data, and a new way of communicating with medical specialists. Trusting the data provided by digital tools is the first step in accepting and using these new technologies. The quality of the data, how patients receive feedback on their healthcare metrics, the frequency and the ability of patients to interpret the data as a whole are important aspects to be taken into account when designing and building future services and proposals within the realm of digital health technologies.

In contrast to GPs, participating patients were not overly concerned about the safety of their personal data, trusting that it would only be shared by the parties involved. Provided the data is reliable, Digital Health Markers can help patients take decisions relating to their health, giving them a greater sense of control. By reaching out to GPs sooner, patients can also receive more effective treatment.

The figure below shows the three main benefits of Digital Health Markers from the participants’ perspective and how the platform can increase efficiency for both GPs and patients.

While there is no need to seek to hold back the tide with regards to telemedicine and Digital Health Markers, striking the right balance between digital and face-to-face contact is key to its success. The next step of this exploration will be a proof of concept with real patients who will trial the free Health Markers app and subsequently share their views on its usability and benefits. This real life experiment will provide Caser and the Eurapco partners with tangible feedback to further develop user-centred digital health services.

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Dirlene Lopez

Marketing and Communication Specialist