Our first EPIC webinar was held by amazing Elizabeth Ziemba and Irving Stackpole who presented the topic from all angles.

With decades of experience in healthcare, Irving Stackpole is the President of Stackpole & Associates, Inc., a strategy, marketing and research firm founded in 1991. Stackpole & Associates has conducted strategic research and marketing projects in the United States and internationally, and has worked for providers, governments and agencies on 4 continents, and many countries. Irving is a mentor for the European Institute for Innovation in Health, an EU program to stimulate healthcare entrepreneurship. He edited Medical Tourism Marketing, the 1st book on the subject and is the co-author of The Marketing Handbook in Health Tourism.

Elizabeth Ziemba is a pioneer in health travel and a President & Founder of Medical Tourism Training. She delivers consulting, training, and assessment services for clients in the wellness, health, medical and hospitality sectors with innovative, practical, evidence-based solutions for business and economic growth. Ms. Ziemba helps clients build strong organizations at the cross-roads of health & hospitality to compete locally and globally.

Patient innovation and patient experience is in the best opportunity to flourish in Europe. The future markets for healthcare service are for the most part in our hands. The future of healthcare is digital, agnostic to distance, source location and delivery location. Certainly, some aspects of healthcare will need to be personal, person to person, but there will be a significant array of features that will be added to healthcare and medical services that will be on the outside ages of the center which is of course, the consumer/ the patient. “Digital ecosystem” is consisted of data in the center of it all, big data, health IT, personal engagement tools and telemedicine. At the time of the world pandemic, telehealth developed at a high speed, that is, it became much more used. The definition would be information exchange from one site to another via electronic communications. In Europe there are some countries who established the infrastructure for performing telemedicine. There is a need to bring quite a bit of technology there in order to make the service both secure efficient and interoperable. A lot of platforms were launched after COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020 that facilitate the use of telemedicine. This is a very significant development in the digital infrastructure of the digital ecosystem around healthcare which of course will have the direct influence on patient experience. The questions that are asked with so many tele consultation events happening today, many of them also being recorded, are they safe, secure, and what happens to them after that? If the system records a teleconsultation it can appear afterwards in the electronic health record.

The future really is in our hands. It is the interface between the consumer and her provider. 90% of consumers accept telehealth as a very good option for them right now. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, 2/3 of the population were completely ready for the acceptance of wearables. 3% of consumers were prepared and wanted the access from their providers through their mobile devices. In accordance with everything that the digital ecosystem brings us and the 21st century in which we live, traditional hospitals as we have known them so far will not be able to exist for a long time in a digital society.

What do patients expect now in the near future? The answer depends on services, markets and locations. Some places, that used to be very popular venues, due to their poor responses to the pandemic, will result in people being discouraged from travelling to those locations. And conversely, some locations responded incredibly well and they will become future magnets for health travelers. There are 7 factors that we are taking into consideration. Influencing factors that we know now are virtual care, speed of learning, standards, workforce, preparedness, inequality and sustainability.

The Malaysian response to COVID-19 is very interesting, it is based on building preparedness for surge capacity, testing efficiency and containment. They are a population of over 32 million and the number of deaths connected to COVID-19 until June 2020 was 121. Therefore, patients expect us to learn faster and deliver faster, to adapt to situations really quickly.

International council for nurses, back in May 2020, estimated that about 90 000 healthcare workers globally had been infected by COVID-19 and that as of May, at least 600 healthcare workers have died from the disease. In response to this, around the world, we see a great deal of community support in form of donations, calling the heroes, posting on social media, websites, programs being created, all with the aim to thank them for what they are doing. Creating a safe & healthy environment for healthcare workers means creating a safe & healthy environment for clients/patients. There are 4 factors that are more important than being called a hero; access to proper personal protective equipment (PPE) without interruption, flexible work environment, care for physical & mental health and assuring physical safety.

Regarding inequality, several questions arise; is healthcare available, accessible and affordable to everyone in the area that is being served or within your country. The big question that stays unanswered at this point is what impact does the preparedness or lack of preparedness, good or poor communication have on the clients/patients’ trust and confidence in your destination or in your healthcare organization and what impact does it have on your brand? Those are the things to really think about.

All these factors will influence where patients choose to go. Recently taken consumers survey showed that the most important change the business can make is to follow rigorous cleaning guidelines.

As we strive around the world to adapt to this new situation, as we look for new and even better ways, take the time to follow our future webinars and other events. In the meantime, stay healthy and responsible.