How to build patient trust in healthcare using Big Data and cloud

Many businesses face the challenge of gaining the trust of their customers. This is especially true for healthcare. How to build the patient’s trust then?

In times of crisis like the current COVID-19 situation, building and supporting customer trust in your products and services is paramount, especially in the healthcare industry, which is in the thick of the stress now. Thus, if you wish the patients to flock to your healthcare company and become lifetime customers, you need to provide top-notch care, coupled with great software products that provide excellent customer experience.

This can be achieved by building an integrated customer journey where your patients feel that your personnel is always in touch and are involved with the process of care, therapy and prophylactics. If you make the right choices while developing your healthcare solutions, you will be able to nurture customer trust using cloud technology and Big Data, greatly improving their experiences, increasing their treatment satisfaction, ensuring they will contact you again if the need arises and securing a stable bottom line for your operations. IT Svit shares our experience in this field, showcasing three main approaches to building patient trust in healthcare solutions using Big Data and cloud computing technologies.

Everything boils down to three main tasks:

  1. Ensuring transparency of interactions
  2. Engaging the customers in your daily operations
  3. Enabling your patients to be in touch from anywhere, anytime.

All of this can be achieved using software products and services — websites, mobile apps, cloud storage, Big Data processing, AI, etc. Here is how this can be done.

Building patient trust phase 1: transparency of interactions

The best way to establish trust in your visitors and turn them into patients is to provide your customers with a user cabinet on your web portal and allow them to publicly comment on the quality of services provided by your doctors and other personnel. This approach provides multiple positive opportunities for you, helping find the room for growth and improve the level of your services.

  • First, negative feedback is the most valuable form of feedback, as it highlights the problem and often shows the best way to address it.
  • Second, you can have a rating of doctors based on customer feedback, motivating your staff to give their best.
  • Third, you can have a public place for patients to have discussions on their treatment details, where the doctors can also comment and show their expertise, building their personal credibility and trust in your establishment as a whole.

This approach will show your patients — and visitors, who are potential patients — that their opinions matter to their healthcare provider. Therefore, an in-depth web portal with detailed explanations of the procedures conducted by your institution and a possibility for customers to publicly comment on all topics is the best way to start building trust in your patients.

Building patient trust phase 2: engagement in daily operations

Patients love being a part of the team that provides the treatment for their pathologies and conditions. They adore the feeling of fighting together and standing shoulder to shoulder with their physicians. Mobile applications coupled with wearable devices that collect the vitals are one of the best approaches to ensuring this outcome. Such mobile apps can enable multiple useful functions:

  • collect and transmit the statistics on the patient’s vital parameters like blood pressure, heartbeat rate, breathing rate, body temperature, etc. ,
  • provide access to a library of step-by-step instructions for force-majeure cases (both textual and in the video format),
  • have a distress button in case of seizure or stroke,
  • enable an in-app chat to keep the team communications centralized,
  • conveniently store the contacts of all team members,
  • monitor the patient’s dietary/training regimen
  • schedule the intake of medications and refill the prescriptions
  • and many, many more functions based on the specifics of the treatment and the best practices of your healthcare provider organization.

When the patients have their treatment plans, schedules, instructions and communication channels to their physicians available at their fingertips, they are much more engaged. In addition, you can enable some gamification features like achievements for following the regimen or social sharing for reaching certain milestones in beating the disease.

Building patient trust phase 3: staying in touch around the clock

Another important aspect of building trust is the availability of communications with your team around the clock. The mobile apps and web portals your patients use must be cross-platform, cross-browser, be able to integrate well with a variety of wearables to enable collecting the required Big Data on vitals, be feature-rich (like including VR/AR and/or telemedicine features, etc.) In a time of quarantine, when physically reaching each other is often complicated both for patients and for therapists, providing the means to stay in touch and efficiently communicate is invaluable.

Telemedicine and digitalized remote care were steadily on the rise throughout the last decade with the technology enabling more and more features for enriching customer experience:

  • patients have immediate access to a library of guides for palliative treatment of their diseases
  • they are able to renew their prescriptions and fill in the needed forms in their apps
  • they can have e-visits from their doctors to receive consultations from the comfort of their homes
  • AI-powered chatbots enable the patients to find the answers to their requests themselves through vast libraries of text and video guides and FAQ responses

All the benefits above are powered by the cloud, Big Data, AI modeling and DevOps workflows. Leveraging these in the fullest will help your healthcare institution gain the trust of your visitors and turn them into lifetime advocates of your services. Here is how this can be done.

Cloud computing benefits for healthcare

When your systems and applications are hosted in the cloud instead of in-house servers, you do not have to worry about power shutdown, physical security of your customer data, scalability and operational resilience of the systems, etc. In addition, running your IT operations in the cloud ensures the safety of data in case of any natural disaster like flood, earthquake, or fire.

The last, but not the least important factor is that cloud platforms provide nearly unlimited, highly scalable and quite affordable resources that enable using the latest technologies like Big Data analytics, Artificial Intelligence training for chatbots and predictive recommendations based on patient’s vitals, etc. These things simply cannot function on dedicated server farms as they demand virtualized pools of resources.

Data security is actually one of the biggest concerns for the healthcare industry, as the patients have to provide their home addresses, medical insurance and financial details along with other personally-identifying information, so ensuring secure data storage is of paramount importance. Cloud computing provides multiple levels of security:

  • Physical — cloud data centers are one of the most guarded and monitored installations worldwide
  • Internal — all employees of cloud data centers pass a rigorous screening and comply with strict monitoring to ensure they don’t get unauthorized access to sensitive data they handle
  • Digital — all the data in the cloud is stored in encrypted form (unless your admins don’t configure this) so that only the rightful owners with the corresponding keys can access it
  • Structural — cloud platforms operate the apps and data in code packages called Docker containers running on Kubernetes clusters. Both Docker and Kubernetes provide multiple security layers (given they are configured correctly).
  • Legislative — cloud vendors are regularly tested for compliance with GDPR, HIPAA and other EU and the US legislation, so working with them you can rest assured you meet all the compliance requirements. For example, if you are required to store the PIA of your patients on the US soil, AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, Rackspace and other cloud platforms can configure a private or hybrid cloud for you — so that you know for sure the location where the data is stored and processed.

This said, running your healthcare IT operations in the cloud removes the need to worry about the security, scalability, fault-tolerance, operational expenses and other costs, not to mention the salary of the data center technicians and the CAPEX of buying new servers when the old ones fail. Besides, as we mentioned before, it is a needed prerequisite for enabling a variety of awesome features based on Big Data and AI.

Big Data benefits for healthcare

Diagnostics relies on analyzing some data to identify the disease. The more data you have and the faster you can process it, the more precise is the result. This is why Big Data is so important — because applied to healthcare it allows to analyze all the data and do it very quickly. This ensures high reliability of testing and diagnostics to increase the chances of survival and recuperation for your patients — as the speed of diagnostics is often the key to successful treatment.

Big Data is an umbrella term for the tools and processes that enable gathering vast volumes of data of various types, processing it in a uniformed manner and presenting it in a human-readable format.

For example, the sensors in various wearable devices can catch the vitals of the patients and transfer the raw data to a mobile app, which syncs with the cloud. In the cloud, the data is processed real-time to present the graphs the doctors are used to seeing on their hospital appliances — but with much more in-depth details. This helps identify any decline or raise in vitals (even during sleep, using WHOOP bracers, fitness trackers and other similar devices).

If you set thresholds for normal activity patterns based on historical data, the AI model will identify any disorder within seconds and minutes of it happening, like if a patient is having a seizure and cannot call for help in any other way. This will trigger the alarm, so the emergency team can get to the patient several hours earlier, which is usually the difference between life and death, especially for the elderly and people with various pathologies.

In addition, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can be used to train chatbots that will empower the patient self-service capabilities of your web/mobile apps and will augment their customer journey. Besides, these models train as they work and become only better over time. These are just several of a huge multitude of possibilities you can leverage, depending on the situation.

Thus said, Big Data and AI/ML technology can be of immeasurable use to healthcare providers that want to provide reliable and innovative services while remaining cost-efficient and feasible.

DevOps approach and selecting your cloud vendor

The biggest benefit for the cloud is that it speeds up the development of new software and features, as the environments are containerized and are configured much faster than the on-prem servers or VMs. This is called the DevOps approach, the kind of services IT Svit excels at.

It is based on three processes — IaC, CI and CD.

  • IaC or Infrastructure as Code involves automated provisioning of required environments according to preconfigured templates or manifests. It allows reaching the needed infrastructure state in one click and updating it in minutes, by simply changing several variables and re-running the manifest, which is hundreds of times faster, easier and more error-proof than tedious manual configuration.
  • CI or Continuous Integration means adding new code to your software product in small, clean batches and testing it on the fly using automated tests. It ensures any updates can be delivered very fast, within a week or two, not once or twice a year. This helps continuously integrate feedback from your customers and project stakeholders, which ensures the operational flexibility and adaptability of your services — and there is no need to tell how important flexibility is in crisis.
  • CD or Continuous Delivery ensures all the operations are as automated as possible, so instead of completing the same actions (like configuring the environments) manually day-in, day-out your admins can configure CI/CD pipelines. These pipelines are the sequences of actions performed by various tools, where the output of the previous operation automatically becomes the input for the next operation. This removes the need to waste time on routine and frees up your personnel to work on more important things.

All cloud platforms provide DevOps services using their sets of tools and any of them can help you move your IT operations to their infrastructure. However, in order to avoid vendor lock-in and be able to order a quick development of new software products, it is best to work with independent vendors like IT Svit.

We are well-acquainted with the architecture of AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure and can help you select the best cloud vendor for your project specifics, as well as helping design, build and run the needed infrastructure and processes. If you want to build patient trust in your healthcare services and outpace your competitors — IT Svit is there to help!

Originally published at https://itsvit.com on May 13, 2020.

DevOps & Big Data lover