The way patients need and want to access healthcare has been permanently altered by COVID-19, and is finally getting a consumer-like experience.
An Accenture survey of 2,700 patients found that 60% wanted to continue meeting with healthcare providers and manage their care remotely, using technology implemented during the pandemic. Physicians are on board too, with 67% of clinicians at a large practice viewing virtual consultations as an acceptable alternative to in-person appointments. This evolution in patient preferences calls for a new approach to the patient experience.
While the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital tools in healthcare, it’s clear that more work needs to be done. A survey of health systems professionals by the Center for Connected Medicine and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) found that fewer than 1 in 3 respondents believe their organization is providing best-in-class digital experiences for patients.
Integrating digital tools and solutions into the patient healthcare ecosystem is key to building comprehensive patient experiences. A patient engagement platform can more easily meet these new patient demands for convenience and ease of use while also helping to reduce the cost of care delivery. Here’s how health systems can build a digital experience that actually works for the patient.
Up your digital engagement game
The brick-and-mortar hospital isn’t going anywhere, but it needs a digital face. The companies and services that people love using are smart, predictive, and digital-first. Amazon recommends products and then tells you how and when they’re arriving. When Google’s not serving up search results, it’s reminding you to respond to last week’s email. Netflix makes personalized recommendations based on what you’ve watched. Lyft lets you know how much your ride costs, who’s picking you up, what kind of car they’re driving, and how long it will take to get to your destination.
Like these apps and platforms, hospitals need to rethink their tools and processes through a digital-first lens. Doing so builds intuitive journeys that enable patients to better understand and adhere to their care plan. The right technology can turn patient acquisition and care plan adherence into something that fits into patients’ lives.
Hinge Health says it’s the first all-digital clinic for joint and back pain.
Take Hinge Health, which claims to be the first all-digital clinic for joint and back pain. They’re reimagining what healthcare means in a digital world. Their care delivery model includes everything you’d typically find in a brick and mortar clinic: private physical therapy sessions, personalized health coaching, and real-time feedback from sensor technology. The difference is that patients access these services from the comfort of their homes. Hinge Health’s platform provides patients with support while empowering them to take charge of their own care. This model shows how patient outreach and engagement can improve when they feel informed and encouraged.
Double down on virtual care
Many health systems rushed their telehealth implementations out of necessity when the pandemic hit. But now’s the time for them to reassess their virtual care programs and build their ecosystems for long-lasting success.
First, it’s key for patients to be able to check in digitally whether they’re at home or heading to the clinic. Second, they need access to virtual care technology that doesn’t break under the weight of increased adoption. Third, patients need to trust that virtual care is at least as effective as the care they’d receive inside a hospital. Virtual care only works when it’s a critical component in a health system’s technology play.
Deliver exceptionally convenient patient experiences
Health systems must redesign care delivery to suit patients’ busy lives and online habits. With the right technology, data, and integrations between health, billing, provider and medication systems, hospitals and clinics can streamline how they schedule appointments, verify patient insurance, and answer questions. The upside for patients is a more connected, less frustrating way to manage all aspects of their care. One example that we take for granted in our lives as consumers – paying your healthcare bill with a tap of your phone.
We demand convenience in our lives as consumers. Healthcare should be no different.
We expect, and in fact demand, convenience in most aspects of our lives, and healthcare should be no different. It’s no longer a nice-to-have. Companies that do it right understand that convenience signals trust and a commitment to the customer, end user, or patient. Reimagining patient engagement to mimic the ease of shopping on Amazon, the personalization of Netflix, or the transparency of Lyft can provide patients with the on-demand experiences to which they’ve become accustomed in other parts of their lives.
At a time when patient preferences are changing, there’s no question about whether to adapt. Technology can cut legacy IT costs and prevent longtime patients from straying to new providers. The only question left is whether your healthcare organization will watch patients leave or welcome the defectors with open arms.