What is digital engagement in healthcare and how has it been transformed due to COVID-19?

Digital engagement in healthcare is all about harnessing the power of digital channels and technologies to improve patients’ lives, and the healthcare systems and services they use.

Some digital engagement solutions enable interactions between patients and healthcare professionals, patient organisations, or other patients. Online forums, remote consultations, blog posts, online surveys, virtual meetings, and crowdsourcing funds are all good examples of this kind of digital engagement.

In other instances, patients may interact directly with an app or technology; for example, completing digital clinical assessments, scheduling medical appointments, tracking symptoms and side effects with smart devices, or requesting assistance from a health chat-bot.

While these digital solutions provide many benefits to patients, there are still difficulties and challenges associated with them. For example, not everyone may be able to access solutions, and by having remote consultations between doctors and patients there is an element of human interaction that is lost.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments and health services around the world have recommended social distancing to protect people from the risk of infection, particularly for individuals in high-risk categories. These social distancing measures, and the requisition of many hospitals and clinics for COVID-19 patients, have led to necessary changes in healthcare provision away from the typical face-to-face system.

In response, patients’ reliance on digital engagement solutions for their healthcare needs has increased.

Patients in a digital world: Making the most of new opportunities for engagement arising from COVID-19

The following sketchnotes were captured during the EPIS 2020 pre-webinars and summit. All sketchnotes illustrate the discussions of patient community representatives on ‘Patients in a digital world: making the most of new opportunities for engagement arising from COVID-19’.

EPIS 2020 at a glance

  • Over 250 attendees

  • Across 40 countries

  • 29 interactive breakout sessions

  • 9 languages

Digital Engagement Resources

During EPIS 2020, the patient community discussed positive and negative experiences of digital engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic and recommendations on how we can ensure that patients continue to benefit from digital engagement opportunities.

This culminated in the creation of a Digital Engagement Toolkit, to support EPIS participants with the local implementation of these recommendations. To learn more about these topics and the Toolkit, click here.