The changing nature of global healthcare consumerism amid COVID-19 – Healthcare IT News

Global experts shared their perspectives on the shift of healthcare consumer demands and expectations worldwide.

The keynote session, “Care isn’t What it Used to Be: The Need to Elevate Consumer Experience,” at HIMSS22 APAC was joined by Dr Vas Metupalle, CMO at Meta Health, Dr Manish Kohli, Beyond Horizon Health CEO and senior advisor of Albright Stonebridge Group; Benedict Tan, SingHealth’s Group Chief Digital Strategy Officer and Chief Data Officer; and Kevin Percival, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer at Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Anne Snowdon, HIMSS Analytics’ Chief Scientific Research Officer, moderated the discussion. 

Patient expectations

With working experience in Asia, the Middle East and the US, Dr Kohli saw a common theme in various parts of the world. “The number one thing that patients really, really ask for is access – access to trusted and quality care.”

“Despite pockets of excellence globally, there are still innumerable cases where patients don’t get access to timely care,” he said.


Dr Metupalle said hospitals being ready to connect to people at home would be “the biggest opportunity” post-pandemic. 

“We hopefully get to see [the] empowerment of these patients, more knowledge [and] patient education – these are opportunities the hospitals have to educate the population,” Dr Metupalle said.

Meanwhile, Tan noted three primary motivations that drove healthcare consumerism. The first motivation was advancing technology while another one was the educational level of patients and the broader population due to the ubiquity of information online. 

“People are getting to understand health and medical terminologies,” he said. 

Tan added that the final motivation was people had been “much more conscious about their health and healthcare”.

“These three motivations combined actually push us toward consumerisation. People are getting on apps, getting on wearables, smart devices and so on,” he said, adding that he saw the trend in Singapore and other developed and developing countries.

Dr Kohli also found customers were “becoming very, very conscious.”

“In more mature markets, there’s also a push toward transparency around quality rankings as well as costs,” he said.

“Health systems that do not adapt and adopt to those changes will be the ones that’ll be left behind,” he added.

Starting small

The panellists had some advice to share with HIMSS22 APAC participants.

Tan encouraged the community to currently focus on tapping on AI and machine learning to enable population health to educate, provide, summarise and simplify information for the public “rather than continuing to invest too much to augment our healthcare and healthcare providers.”

“We should perhaps start investing into how we enable, how we empower a patient using these technologies to take care of their health,” he suggested.

According to Dr Metupalle, “frugal innovation is necessary for developing countries”.

“Not all countries have the resources to create these structures that may be expensive,” he said.

“We see that the opportunity here [in Southeast Asia] is allowing the startups to come together as a collective.”

Percival told the community not to be afraid “to start small.” “Some of the best innovations I’ve seen started small,” he said.

“They may be one service, one organisation or one hospital – and then it will grow because you learn from those things.”