THE FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE: GOING PHYGITAL!
Updated: Aug 9
The COVID pandemic and the scenario resulting out of that has taught us a lot, including adding many new words to our vocabulary, which were hitherto used very rarely. Apart from this, it has coined new words as well. One of the words, that I have come across in recent times, is “Phygital’.
What is Phygital?
I must admit that, when I read this word the first time, I thought it to be some typo error. But, when I saw it a couple of times more, I got curious and decided to check it out. And that’s when I realized it is not a typo error, but an emerging trend, which is going to redefine the way most business work and interact with their customers.
Phygital is actually a new word formed out of two words, PHYsical (Physical Space) and diGITAL (digital technology). In simple words, Phygital aims at combining the positives of Physical and Digital approaches, and at the same time aims at overcoming the shortcomings of both approaches.
Is Healthcare ready to go Phygital?
The very nature of the service industry is such, that it requires a direct physical interaction between the customer and service provider. Without a proper physical interaction, a customer is not convinced about the quality of the service that he can expect from the service provider. This explains why the healthcare industry was laggard in adopting new technology. While Digital was convenient, quick, and cost-effective, it lacked the personal interaction between the doctor and the patient, something which is very crucial, at least for most of the patients. So, the patients were very reluctant to use digital technology for interacting with the doctors.
But now, Phygital has changed everything and is ready to offer the best of both worlds. Now, the patients can get a consultation from a doctor sitting in the safety and comfort of their homes, and still get to listen and even see a doctor using a smartphone or laptop. This is what is called ‘marriage of two diverse approaches’.
How going Phygital would look like for Doctors?
The success of any concept is in healthcare essentially is based on three parameters - cost, quality, and access. These three elements constitute the paradoxical ‘iron triangle’. Experts believe that any system can optimize only any two of these elements, sacrificing the third. There have been very few successful attempts to break this iron triangle.
Whether the Phygital approach be able to do this or not? At this stage, it would be too early to answer this, but one thing is for sure, that it would bring a sea change in the way healthcare service would be offered to the patients.
To doctors, going Phygital would mean the following:
1. Increase their access:
Earlier due to distances, people from rural areas and remote places were not able to visit specialist doctors. Many people had reservations about tele consultation. Now, the Phygital approach has changed everything. Using a mobile app the patients have an access to the best of the best doctors available. The patient can not only speak to the doctor but also see him on his mobile screen. This gives a lot of faith to the patient. The doctor is also able to see the patients, and not just rely on medical papers. This way the doctor is able to increase his access.
2. Lower the cost for all:
With a Phygital approach, the doctor need not invest in creating a great clinic or nursing home. In fact, the doctor may operate from a room in his home as well. So, the operating costs of maintaining a clinic is reduced. Naturally, now the doctor can pass on some of this benefit to the patients, in terms of a lower consultation fee. At the same time, the patients do not have to travel all the way to the clinic. So, this saves their travel time and the cost as well.
3. Give quality healthcare to the masses:
With the doctors getting free off non-core activities of running a nursing home or a clinic, he/she is able to devote more quality time with the patients. This naturally improves the quality of the healthcare the patients get. Also, there is no difference in the healthcare for people, be it from urban or rural. This ensures quality healthcare for the masses.
4. Enhanced customer experience:
With Phygital, the patient can connect with the doctor of his choice, quickly and easily. Since the doctor is also freed off the mundane tasks, he/she has more time for the patients. Hence, the doctor is able to interact with more patients in a day. This decreases the waiting time for a patient, who wants to consult a particular doctor. It’s easy to transfer medical reports, no need to carry physical copies of the reports or the prescriptions. All these things translate into enhancing the customer experience.
Technology has definitely changed the way we work. But the biggest buyers of the latest technology are the ‘millennial’, which, as a matter of fact, not the key user of healthcare services. The biggest users of the healthcare services are the elder people, most of which are not that tech-savvy, and hence were both reluctant to use technology. Hence, the doctors were also apprehensive about adopting technology.
But Phygital approached is going to be the game-changer. It will help attract many of such people into using digital technology – technology with a hint of physical touch with Docterz.