Our market analyst, Katie Caldwell, recently had the opportunity to attend the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas. The conference is a hub for global professionals to network, collaborate, and learn from some of the most inspired leaders across dozens of industries. Here’s what she had to say about her experience.

Besides the obvious allure of global film premieres, celebrity sightings, and free food, it was an opportunity to immerse myself in the trends impacting the future of healthcare, an industry I often work with closely. The following trends stuck with me:

1. Patients want to be in control of their own medical data.

With wearables, at-home DNA tests, and an endless amount of medical information online, patients are becoming more comfortable with medical data and want to feel like it’s theirs. This trend toward personal data collection is leading to an increased patient desire to better understand their diagnoses at the doctor’s office.

The issue healthcare professionals are trying to remedy is how much information is too much? Maria Miller, Co-Founder and COO at Life by Spot, explained that when patients are bombarded with information, they may have difficulty making the right decision. To minimize stress and maximize patient empowerment, a new system should be put in place to guide patients through the data digestion process.

2. Technology and telemedecine are affecting the patient-doctor relationship.

The patient-doctor relationship is highly affected by patients’ need for “right now” help. When patients are feeling sick, they aren’t waiting to see their primary care doctors anymore—they’re going to the nearest Urgent Care. So how can technology step in and enable that immediacy with the primary care doctors?

Telehealth apps like Teladoc, Zipnosis, and Ringadoc exist and seem to be the answer, but they haven’t gained much popularity since they were introduced. Even 60% of millennials say they support telehealth replacing in-person visits, but something is keeping these apps from becoming the new norm.

Conference panelists Maria Miller, Tom Valdivia, and Brian Gambs think it may be because we crave more of an emotional connection with our doctors, as emotion and health are often intertwined.  This brought up a further question: how can we overlay this sense of emotion with telemedicine?

3. Innovative healthcare professionals will need to start thinking of their patients as consumers.

An article in 2015 said that “Patients are to squares as consumers are to rectangles,” but in 2019 we still aren’t always treating our squares as rectangles.

SXSW panelists explained how consumer marketing techniques could potentially drive patients to stay on top of their medications by seeking out the right help and making frequent doctor visits. If fitness communities keep people accountable, could a similar tactic be applied to healthcare?

The Deloitte Review claims, “Of essence to the health care industry is how to step up to a consumer-centric system. An active and engaged consumer is implicit at the core of the health industry of the future—a value- oriented market-like system.”

By posing the question of “What consumer problem are we solving today?” healthcare-related companies can differentiate and stay ahead of the changing minds of consumers.

If you’d like to compare your notes about your experience at SXSW, reach out to Katie here.

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