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Building Consumer Trust in the Digital Healthcare Era

By :
6 minutes, 54 seconds read

Since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, consumers have prioritized health above other needs. Healthcare organizations offering Digital Health solutions, need to find the right fit for both clinicians and patients. Consumer trust gaps between customers and adoption of digital health tools are fairly large due to privacy and security issues, poor first digital health experience, and lack of trust for tech companies. Following the launch of National Digital Health Mission, a LocalCircles survey found that around 60% of people want Digital Health Ids but are hesitant to share personal details beyond health and medical records. DigiLocker consent management framework will be followed to frame a proper consent management for people to ensure privacy of data.

How can Consumer Trust in Digital Healthcare be Built?

As the pandemic is strengthening the digital health space, now is a great time to strengthen the consumer trust in digital healthcare industry. Below are few ways that can be adopted:

1. Cross-industry Partnership:

With nowhere else to go customers have taken up the digital offerings to keep themselves safe. COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for people who are still hesitant to adopt digital health tools. This has led to cross-industry partnership among many companies to strengthen consumer trust in digital healthcare industry:

1. Medtronic collaborated with Manipal Hospital, Bangalore for ERAS deal, under the Value-Based Healthcare (VBHC) initiative in India. Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) increases the recovery rate of patients, thus reducing in-hospital stay and decreasing complication rate.  

2. LTTS partnered with Agappe Diagnostic, an in-vitro diagnostics company and launched an automated blood cell counter that would lower the diagnostic cost. LTTS has also partnered with GITA and DST (Department of Science and Technology) to form robotic endo-training kits. 

2. Privacy & Data Security

Only 45% of healthcare consumers trust tech companies in sharing personal data, according to a recent Accenture survey. As the healthcare data privacy and security bill is yet to come into effect in India, protecting consumer data has become very  important.  Healthtech startups like Practo and Healthifyme have recognized the importance of consumer trust in digital healthcare industry to ensure confidentiality: 

  1. Practo is the only Indian healthtech company which is ISO 27000 certified. It has regular  internal and external audits. As the company serves foreign countries as well, Practo’s servers comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (hipaa). They also have 256 bit encryption code to encrypt data files. 
  2. Wildflower Healthcare used Data Theorem App Secure, a mobile application security solution that provides security coverage. Data theorem performs static and dynamic analysis of iOS and android apps to detect flaws, security vulnerabilities and insecure open source libraries. It helped Wildflower identify and close 73 security issues and remove 11 harmful third-party libraries.

As the mobile health app sector is growing rapidly, there are certain measures that can be taken to ensure privacy of data:

  1. Two-factor authentication– a two-factor authentication increases app’s security by asking the user for two-step authentication. For example, a combination of either username/password and SMS, or username/password and email verification code can be implemented for apps. 
  2. SSL technology- SSL technology can be used to encrypt the data being transmitted between the app and server. 
  3. Audit Trail for EMR- regular audit trail enables tracking of all attempts to access patient data. Certain factors to keep in mind while auditing are the type and date of data accessed, and source from where the data was accessed.

3. Building trust through medical professionals-

Healthcare providers need to be well acquainted with digital health tools before recommending them to their patients. According to an Accenture survey, only 11% of people indicated that their regular healthcare provider has recommended digital tools to manage their health. 

Physicians are adopting digital health tools to provide televisits or virtual visits, a trend that has progressively increased in recent years. The growing trend can be attributed to improvements in Point of care or workflow enhancements, Clinical decision support, Patient engagement, Remote monitoring, and management for improved care and Remote monitoring for efficiency. Before recommending digital health tools, doctors should consider whether they can provide healthcare remotely and if certain technology is seamlessly integrable to their everyday practise. In the case of mHealth such as apps that help patients with diabetes and control blood glucose levels, assist those with back pain in performing exercises, and one-on-one therapeutic sessions, physicians are starting to offer a combination of well-being oriented tools in tandem with their professional advice. To gain physicians’ confidence in such tools, applications should be developed together with or by the medical professionals and based on scientific evidence which at present constitute only a tiny percentage of all “health apps”. 

To ensure people received quality healthcare during lockdown, Practo joined hands with thousands of experienced doctors to provide free online telemedicine solutions. More than 2500 patients received remote healthcare through sharing of images, discussions through texts, voice and video calls. Such an initiative has been able to raise consumer trust in digital healthcare industry, especially in telemedicine .  

4. Demand for Value-added services –

Due to COVID-19, the growing customer demands has led to the fast growth of the healthtech industry. People have experienced noticeable change in their health as health apps have helped to keep track of health issues and permit doctors to help people self-manage their health. Monitoring of steps, calories intake, medication doses have made it easier for remote checkup. The pandemic has brought a great opportunity for healthtech companies to meet the rising demands that can lead to the strengthening of trust. Moreover, 57% of consumers are open to receiving remote virtual care at home. Wearable devices and mobile health apps have witnessed a surge in use as they have facilitated healthcare by providing at-home virtual care:

  1. professional health trainers provide daily guidance in yoga and DIY exercise.The app enables customers to keep a daily check on their health by serving as a healthy food delivery app and by comparing health status with competitors.
  2. 1 mg- it is an online medical store and healthcare app. Through the app, customers can book appointments, avail discounts while purchasing medicine,receive health tips and search doctors nearby.
  3. GoQii-  it is a wearable device that has an OLED display and 360 motion sensor that measure activity and sleep quality. It is a fitness tracker that nudges customers to have a healthier lifestyle.   

5. Personalization of healthcare delivery –

As pandemic has changed the way customers access care, dynamic demands are gradually making the healthtech industry flexible to provide customized care any time. Flexibility confirms the growing consumer trust in digital healthcare industry as their ever-changing demands are being met constantly. 

Healthtech companies have brought innovations to provide door-step services as follows:

  1. Hinge Health- it is a patient-driven digital hospital that launched a digital clinic for back and joint pain. It provides one-one-one sessions with therapists, personalized health coaching and a sensor technology that acts as a real-time health tracker. 
  2. Hello Heart- it is a hypertension smartphone solution provider that gives personalized peer-reviewed explanations for the results, without having to talk to anyone over the phone. It helps people to monitor sugar levels, blood pressure using AI technology, and provides health tips in smartphones.    


When it comes to healthcare delivery, there are many digital processes operating beyond what the customer sees. A layer of transparency must be built into processes that directly contends with a user’s sensitive health data. Organizations that monitor & report on digital trust with real-time accountability will be the new normal for value creation in the digital era, where personal information has become an economic commodity by itself. As digital health consumers become more informed, managing data use and protecting privacy will be an important barometer of how healthcare enterprises are trusted by their wider stakeholders.

To know about how healthcare industry is bringing hospitals to a customer’s doorstep, watch our webinar on Digital Health Beyond COVID-19.

Further Readings:

  1. Reimagining Medical Diagnosis with Chatbots
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. What will be the state of the healthcare industry post pandemic?
  4. Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care

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