Insights from Insiders – Don Lightfoot on Digital Health

Insights from Insiders – Don Lightfoot on Digital Health 2021-07-19T18:30:04+00:00

Digital health is the convergence of digital care programs with digital technology to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says digital health covers many categories, including mobile health, artificial intelligence in healthcare, health information technology, wearable devices, telehealth and medicine and personalized medicine. It uses computing platforms, smartphone applications, connectivity, software and sensors.

Digital health solutions have been available in the hospitality industry for decades but not until the recent pandemic did industry leaders see digital health’s potential for keeping guests healthy and safe and helping businesses to stay open. Digital health also expanded access to essential health services for all during this time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Overall, digital health can reduce inefficiencies, improve access, increase quality, provide personalized care and reduce costs.

Founder and CEO of Hospitality Wellness Group, Don Lightfoot is a senior healthcare marketing executive with over 30 years’ experience with major health insurance and benefit consulting firms. He has been advocating for digital health in the hospitality industry for many years because of its vast potential to accurately diagnose and treat disease and enhance health care delivery for all.

Here’s our Insights from Insiders interview with Don Lightfoot:

1. What are some of the digital health solutions being implemented in hospitality to ensure guests’ health and safety during the COVID recovery?

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated many industries but the hospitality and travel businesses were particularly hard hit since people weren’t traveling. A 10-country study recently found that these industries must regain consumers’ trust by addressing issues related to health and safety. They need to fix “trust gaps” as they restart to ensure success in the COVID recovery. 

With regard to the U.S. hospitality sector, the future looks bright with leisure travel expected to drive recovery but this will depend on how the industry works to maintain the health and safety of their hotels, resorts and restaurants.

According to Chip Rogers, CEO of the prestigious American Hotel & Lodging Association, “The key to recovery and growth in our industry is communicating and delivering the enhanced health, safety, and cleanliness standards that guests can expect when visiting hotels.”

Addressing the number one concern of hotel guests — what happens when someone gets sick or injured – the virtual care solution is especially valuable amid the continuing challenges of COVID-19. 

2. How does digital health work in the hospitality industry? Please provide a good example of the services it provides. 

Currently, the only medical assistance offered a hotel guest is referral to an outside physician, which has liability issues for the hotel. Some digital health solutions offer a Hold Harmless Clause in their hospitality wellness programs with no liability for the hotel.

Physicians are not always available to visit guests and the cost of an in-person consult is extremely high, not to mention the loss of revenue with guests who are sick. In contrast, a virtual urgent care telehealth program with extensive medical information and, if needed, consults with a board-certified physician, is quick and convenient — and there are minimal costs to the guest and no cost to the hotel for this most-asked-for service. 

Typically, a physician insists on seeing the guests, a decision that will cost the guests hundreds of dollars, money not spent at the hotel, resort or restaurant.

With digital health, there are no costs to the hospitality property for health information or physician queries no matter how many times they used the service during their stay. 

3. Do these solutions work with hotels, resorts and restaurants? How does this work?

These solutions work well with all hospitality-related businesses because they have access to thousands of providers instantly. For example, guests can ask a board-certified doctor a question 24/7 in a confidential and secure way, assess symptoms with an AI symptom tracker with personalized recommendations, see a doctor, get a prescription and get a treatment plan complete with follow-ups and referrals as well as reminders and notifications. In addition, guests can access their health profile: treatment, prescription and lab history, integrated health records and have a personalized experience.

4. Do these solutions provide COVID-19 testing?

Regarding COVID, hotels do the testing, but digital healthcare applications can diagnose COVID symptoms and take appropriate action to get the care the patients need. With other issues, like heart problems, virtual providers can recommend going to the emergency room after hearing about symptoms related to a heart attack. 

5. What else can you tell us about digital health and the hospitality industry? 

Currently, the main issue is getting people tested and eventually vaccinated. Using digital health with either block chain, artificial intelligence and cloud technologies are important to ensuring guest health and safety. 

Digital health passes, or “vaccine passports,” are being questioned as lawful or ethical, while 91% of travelers said they would be comfortable using them so they can hit the roads and airways again. Meanwhile, some hotel chains will require meeting attendees to show their digital health passes.

Older visitors, 55 and up, will be traveling the most since they are the ones who are heavily vaccinated. As a result, they need to rely on a digital health solution that can take care of their health needs while on vacation. 

6.  What’s the future of digital health and the hospitality industry?

The hospitality industry can’t do hands-on activities to show they care about the health and safety of their guests but using the right digital health solution is best way right now. In addition, hotels, resorts and restaurants need to offer their guests and visitors a digital health solution to guarantee the success of their businesses in the future. You can’t run a hospitality business without digital health or you will be left-behind. It’s an important part of the services you offer your customers.