The Three Ways We Experience Healthcare
Navigating healthcare is not for the faint of heart: it can range from tedious to downright devastating, yet we’re witnessing an unprecedented evolution of consumer healthcare. As we gain more power in our decision making, the healthcare experience becomes less treacherous. But we still have a long way to go. Before we can transform healthcare into something that we all look forward to, we must identify the ways we currently experience healthcare.
Here are three ways we, as healthcare users, experience healthcare:
We’ve all been healthcare patients. Be it sitting on an exam table while a white coat pokes and prods us, or trying to decipher the meaning of numbers on a monitor, or failing to understand the medical jargon of a treatment plan — being a patient is a universal experience for all of us at some point. Overwhelmed, objectified and powerless, we experience healthcare much like we would experience a foreign country — we struggle to navigate a new language and culture, without the benefit of a translator or guidebook.
Patients experience healthcare through data. Words are exchanged, numbers are shared but it doesn’t feel relevant to our lives. It doesn’t make sense. The data is presented to us but it lacks context and applicability — what does it mean for me? It’s as though a doctor gives us a piece of paper with instructions in a foreign language and expects us to make meaningful choices with limited to no understanding.
Data is essential to healthcare. It’s the raw material that health providers need to make decisions, but it means nothing for patients who haven’t spent years studying and training to understand what those values mean. For patients, healthcare is a data driven experience with no context or comprehension. It’s a strange country with no map, translator or guide.
Unlike being dropped in a foreign country with no guidance, health consumers are a lot like tourists — we’ve got some idea of what we want, need and where we’re going. In today’s consumer driven healthcare experience, consumers have better decision making power thanks to health information and content that makes the foreign world of health more accessible.
Consumers experience healthcare through information and content. Like a tourist in a foreign country, healthcare consumers use information and content to navigate their surroundings. What was once incomprehensible data has now been given some context and direction. Those instructions in a foreign language now come with a phrase book and recommendations from other experienced travelers. Yet consumers still experience health as a transactional experience. It’s not as alienating as the patient’s data driven experience but it lacks the more engaging qualities of a relational driven experience — something that we can see with healthcare fans.
Being a healthcare fan is a lot like being a local. We are immersed in the community, our experience driven by knowledge and relationships with others. For healthcare fans, health is a part of their identity. Fans experience healthcare through stories. These are stories from the people who experience health/care daily, sharing their perspective as they navigate better health and the healthcare system. Fans engage in and create their own stories of healthcare. Those instructions in a foreign language are now a personal story that we can remember, relate to and act upon. Rather than being alienated by data or limited to content, stories translated into personal experiences that can become our own. Fans, like locals, are able to translate a foreign language into a repeatable, engaging experience.
As more patients become healthcare consumers, we have a unique opportunity to design healthcare experiences that are fan worthy, providing a space for stories to be shared and communities to grow. Fan driven healthcare experiences will inevitably improve health engagement and outcomes, turning the foreign experience of health into something we can all identify with. Rather than being lost in a sea of data or limited by disengaging content, health fans will participate in their health through stories that drive relationships and outcomes.
Ari Mostov is an award-winning entertainment producer turned healthcare innovation strategist. Her strategic narrative and engagement designs improve outcomes for health seekers all over the world. Learn more at www.wellplay.world