3rd - Oct - 2018

Video Calling Could be the Magic Pill for the Healthcare Sector

It’s no secret that people are living longer, and that globally the population is expanding. According to the most recent United Nations DESA report, the world’s population is expected to increase one billion fold by 2025, with 300 million aged 65 or older.  

One consequence of an ageing population is the increased demand for healthcare, and the burden it puts on healthcare providers. At the same time, digital channels for most, are becoming the preferred medium for accessing data and services.  

Enabled by the availability of Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) delivering messaging, voice and video via simple API integration, healthcare providers are beginning to respond, offering apps that provide routine medical services like booking appointments. Increasingly it’s video calling that is being offered as a way to expedite the consultation process.  

Bupa for example offers its customers video consultations with qualified GPs via an app. Elsewhere, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) recently introduced a similar service – GP at Hand, an app that enables users to have appointments through video calls or text message. This move to digital is effectively easing the burden on front-line healthcare providers. Our recent research looked in more detail at what role video is playing in this shift.  

Our sister company Sinch’s research found that video calling is already becoming part of the communications mix, with 67% of enterprises surveyed using video often or sometimes, 69% of which were in the healthcare sector, yet only 19% of healthcare providers surveyed said they were likely to adopt video calling in the next 24 months.  

The report also indicates that for consumers there is an unfulfilled demand for consultation via video. Respondents were asked which type of organization they would most prefer to interact with via a video call, healthcare came out on top, with 23% of consumers thinking it was a good idea – the next closest industry sector was banking at 8%.  

Reasons for preferring a video call (for all sectors) were mixed, but four categories of response were almost equally popular, providing insight in to why patients favor video over other digital channels. 38% said it would provide a more personal service, 38% said it would save time, 36% wanted to see facial expressions, 37% said it would resolve queries in the moment. These are all good reasons for seeing a doctor face-to-face, demonstrating how easily video could replace seeing a doctor in person.  

There’s also another important reason why video calling fits well with healthcare provision. It’s widely acknowledged that one in five consumers self-diagnose health issues via search engines, usually because they were unable to get a doctor’s appointment. The danger of misdiagnosis, lack of access to medical history and the pitfalls of unverified information can of course be disastrous. Our research indicates that patients prefer the accuracy of a professional diagnosis – 45% said that video calling would stop them from self-diagnosing.  

The Sinch report indicates that within the healthcare sector there is a misperception on the provision side that video calling is not something that patients explicitly demand. This is clearly not the case. Busy, connected consumers seek convenience but not at the price of accurate diagnosis. Providers that are beginning to offer video are already seeing the benefits, not least in reducing the burden on frontline service provision.  

The Sinch report, How Consumer Demand Is Shaping The Future Of Video Calling for Enterprises can be downloaded here. 

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