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May 4, 2020

Empathy in the Age of Digital Health

By Gillian Drukmaler | Intern

Mobile health, digital therapeutics, wearable devices, SMS communication, and AI. These are just a few of the many ways that digital health has made its way into our everyday lives. With the rapid shift to digitization, traditional healthcare as we used to know it has changed drastically. Let’s face it, digital health is now highly essential and revolutionizes the way that individual’s access care. One patient’s journey is unlike the next, and digital health platforms need to cover all the bases in understanding the diversity of our needs. Digital health empowers the individual to take power back in making informed decisions for themselves, and who doesn’t want to feel like they are in control over their own care?!  

Given the nCovid-19 pandemic that we are currently living through, the importance of digital health has never been more apparent. People want to stay safe at home, monitor their health, and take action over their health goals. Well, what better way to do so then to utilize the multitude of digital health platforms at one’s fingertips all from the comfort of home.   

Digital health tools may be readily available, but what makes using these tools a positive experience that the consumer ultimately appreciates? At the end of the day that encompasses both the ability to effectively manage their health, while also feeling like there is a compassionate touch on the other side of the screen. The coupling of these two factors is key to a successful digital health experience.  

We are human beings, after all. And human beings have the tendency to place a lot of value in the compassion and empathy they get out of their interactions. Through research it has been demonstrated that negative clinical experiences have the potential to lead to negative health consequences. Those who feel a lack of empathy from care practitioners that they put their trust in, ultimately may not seek out medical attention when needed. Obviously, this is far from an ideal situation. 

Think about it- if you explained your symptoms to someone and they replied in a way that lacked emotion, not only does that show an absence of care for others, but it demonstrates that this individual has failed to sympathize with what you are experiencing. I can imagine that would not leave a great taste in your mouth, especially if you are in a vulnerable position. It is likely that you would not want to approach that individual the next time you are feeling unwell. The same applies for digital healthcare. As quoted by Meryl Streep, “the greatest gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy.” At the end of the day it is human beings creating these tools for other human beings. If we are moving towards using high tech and digital interfaces for many aspects of our care, we should not forget about who we are trying to serve – the end user. Those developing these digital tools need to remember this when creating these platforms. It is fundamental to place yourself in someone else’s shoes- try to understand the position that the consumer may be in, and proceed in creating something that keeps empathy at the forefront. 

 At MEMOTEXT we understand that everyone is unique. Empathy is and will always be a priority of our mission. As mentioned in a previous blog post, taking a user-centered approach makes all the difference. Every consumer, no matter their circumstances, deserves a level of care that feels personalized and right for them. Every person deserves to feel understood. So, no matter what trajectory digital health takes in the future, that should not be forgotten.