I dream in screens. But not just any screens. Screens that deliver the tens of thousands of apps for health, wellness and fitness already out there and the new ones flooding our app/play stores daily. Screens on the wearable tech that monitors our steps, calories burned and heart rate. Screens that offer reviews of doctors, hospitals and other providers. Screens that pharma sales reps use with the healthcare professionals they call on. The screens the WSJ referenced, where they described a future in which every doctor’s visit would include a screen.
Still, none of these scenarios presents the distant future, since this is happening now. Screens, the visible face of technology, are one of the clearest demonstrations of what is often referred to as the consumerization of healthcare.
This brings me to “Pretty Padded Room” and the increasing use of online therapy, particularly among millennials. NPR recently told the story of such a popular new site. The reporter interviewed both patients and therapists who were participating in this and similar online therapy settings. Interestingly, the young patients were not only comfortable with therapy via Skype, but they also preferred it. It was natural to them to source what they needed online and then conduct their business privately (like in their bedrooms, where they could show the therapists their stuff). To them, it was more intimate than face to face, which they considered fraught and uncomfortable, including the awkwardness of the waiting room and the apparently still-extant stigma of therapy.
And with the refreshing candor that characterizes many millennials, they shared freely how they feel about getting their mental healthcare this way, and why it’s relevant and effective. (Side note: When I say candor, I really mean snark – the lingua franca of millennials. I mean that in the most loving way, as the proud mom of two members of that generational cohort. I learn from them every day – even things I don’t really need to know about, like IPAs and peak beard.)
But what makes ideas like “Pretty Padded Room” work for some millennials is that they connect on a deeply human level by demonstrating an understanding of the need and providing an environmentally appropriate approach. And that’s really the point. It’s not about screens, or apps or technology, or consumerization. It’s about understanding your audience and finding the most humanly relevant way to connect with them. That’s the magic, not the screens.
Wendy Lurrie is the Managing Director of gyro’s healthcare practice gyro:human.
Follow her @wendylcalise