Can you heal me now? Healthcare, mobile, and millennials

Patients increasingly demand technology that addresses the inefficiencies of the current healthcare system. We have all gotten used to consumer power in our lives outside of healthcare and expect better.

A recent New England Journal of Medicine study found that nearly every industry sector saw labor productivity gains in the past 20 years with the glaring exception of healthcare. The mobile technology that serves as a lifeline for many of us is beginning to spur this industry toward rapid modernization. A joint survey from Salesforce and Harris Poll revealed that 71 percent of millennial patients would like to have their providers use mobile apps to book appointments, share health data and manage preventive care. This trend will only grow as millennials get older and as all of us increasingly take advantage of the power of technology.

We live in a world of increasingly empowered consumers, armed with their data-packed smartphones. A ride, a date and a place to stay for a weekend away are all now available with the click of an app. We can use wearables to track our steps, our weight loss, even ovulation schedules--all without the help of a doctor. This appetite for instant response and low-cost or free solutions--powered by mobile, social and cloud--has made us reevaluate all local services and increased our expectations.

Given this transformation, some of the processes and experiences we have long accepted in healthcare now seem ripe for change. What other service forces a person to call a receptionist just to make an appointment (where they'll usually still have to wait) or repeat their life history once they get through the door?

Meanwhile, pressure from competition continues to mount. ZocDoc, a mobile app, allows patients in major cities to find a doctor and book an appointment on a smartphone in minutes. Last fall, CVS rebranded to "CVS Health" to demonstrate their ability to offer primary care. At the same time, Wal-Mart began an aggressive pilot program to offer primary care services for $40--the same price as a typical co-pay. In each of these cases, convenience, price, and access supersede the "relationship" that used to be paramount in medicine.

Consumers can access physicians with Teledoc, get a second opinion from Grand Rounds, and share their experiences on PatientsLikeMe. Access and collaboration matter a great deal to patients. According to the survey, 60 percent of millennials support the use of telehealth options to eliminate in-person visits.

Many early adopters have used mobile, social and cloud solutions to make traction solving complex problems when traditional healthcare systems were falling behind. For example, Health Leads operates in 20 locations around the US, enabling healthcare professionals to help low-income families. They focus on providing basic needs like food and heat, and help patients secure transportation and other vital resources. Another innovator, neuroscience firm CNS Response, was the first company to provide personalized medication guidance to psychiatrists and other physicians by enabling collaborative diagnosis and treatment plans for psychiatric treatments and medications.

As modern technologies disrupt the healthcare industry by emphasizing mobile, social, cloud and data science, providers must adapt new solutions so they are prepared for the growing ranks of tech savvy patients that clamor for modern service and experiences.

Joshua Newman, M.D., M.S.H.S., is Chief Medical Officer and Director of Product Management and Health Strategy at Salesforce. Dr. Newman has a 15-year history in Health IT, having designed, built, and managed numerous web applications including those for medical residency administration, billing, and clinical care; to promote collaboration between physicians; and to ease the adoption of electronic medical records systems. In his current role at Salesforce, he leads the strategy and cross-functional efforts on the company's health products, develops partner and customer presence on the Force.com platform, and enables health applications for non-profit organizations through the Salesforce Foundation. Prior to Salesforce, he worked as a practicing physician and Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA with a research focus on health information technology.

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