by Rahul Varshneya, co-founder and president of Arkenea
The Coronavirus pandemic forced healthcare communities across the United States into survival mode during the first half of 2020. Several healthcare facilities, both big and small, had to adjust their operations, hastily putting together telemedicine offerings that would allow them to navigate uncharted territory and stay agile.
However, the second half of that year saw growth potential: attracting new patients, building loyalty as the country emerged on the other side of this health emergency. Consequently, telemedicine skyrocketed. A recent consumer survey conducted by Deloitte shows 57% of consumers now display willingness to try telehealth, and 77% of consumers have already experienced telehealth services, reporting significant levels of satisfaction.
One thing is resoundingly certain: telemedicine is not a temporary solution, it will dictate the future of healthcare to a great extent.
As consumers increasingly turn to virtual care services—due to the convenience they offer and out of necessity—providers are approaching a unique set of challenges when it comes to engagement. Issues such as altering practice patterns and operations have arisen, requiring diverse approaches in order to connect with patients. It demands that providers adjust clinical and administrative workflows to ensure highly coordinated and efficient patient experiences.
In this article, we investigate how healthcare providers can boost patient engagement within a virtual setting.
1. Give Patient Experience a Personalized Touch.
Today’s patients experience digitally enabled, intelligent, and frictionless healthcare visits, encouraging healthcare providers to meet these standards. A number of providers have been making use of intelligent apps to help triage patients and streamline care during the pandemic.
Developing healthcare applications is an excellent way to help patients book appointments, locate the right specialist, launch online visits with their physicians, check symptoms, manage prescriptions, access their EMR/EHR, self-monitor their health, get reminders about preventive care and estimate health care costs among other things.
This can all be placed easily within the patient’s reach through a personalized, seamless digital front door, representing all the touch points where healthcare providers can digitally interact with patients.
Personalizing patient experience goes far beyond simply deploying digital solutions. Particularly within healthcare settings, being able to communicate effectively and with safety on the patient channel of choice is extremely crucial to boosting engagement.
Furnishing a harmonious experience for patients at every single touchpoint along the process makes it significantly easier to deliver the personalized experiences patients usually long for.
2. Make Data Interoperability a Priority.
With more health data present now than ever before, it has become of even greater importance for healthcare providers trying to boost engagement to have a holistic view of the entire patient journey. This involves optimizing insights and data to help virtual care teams be as responsive as they possibly can be.
Additionally, tools such as cloud servers that enable access to prior appointments, health history and other relevant patient records in one centralized view allow for care teams to gain a broader understanding of patient needs.
Capturing in-home diagnostic and monitoring data through remote patient monitoring (RPM) technology can ameliorate the efficiency of telehealth visits and allow providers to expand telehealth to patients with behavioral health needs, existing chronic conditions, physical therapy, pregnancy and post-delivery care, etc.
Providers should also consider building telehealth capabilities into clinical workflows so that data from virtual encounters can be efficiently captured and made available to other physicians, specialists and clinics in a healthcare system to enhance outcomes. Data from physical visits must likewise be synced and made available for virtual consultations.
Patients may end up withdrawing or losing track of telehealth experiences that don’t build on personalized, contextual data pertinent to their patient journeys. Therefore, making data interoperability a priority for your healthcare organization is the key to boosting engagement.
3. Try to Identify Patients’ Pain Points and Give them What they Need.
We live in a world that purely functions on the get-it-right-now or on-demand basis. Now, while not all of healthcare can be delivered on those terms, forward looking healthcare providers always try to make sure they are focusing on ways to identify their consumers’ pain points and meet their demand for convenience.
One fine way of doing this would be to extend and tailor in-home monitoring to meet an individual’s specific health needs.
Wearables and other such state-of-the-art in-home devices enable providers to capture and set limits for a single person. Providers can then monitor for readings that might look out of the usual range for that individual.
Recognizing and probing signals distinctive to an individual, such as minute changes in blood oxygen levels, would set fresh standards for early intervention, engagement, and outcome improvement.
Another simple yet effective way in which physicians can boost patient experience is by using integrated texting solutions for their telehealth platform to schedule appointments. This is going to be especially useful since scheduling appointments manually can be a major hassle for patients.
Once a patient calls to set up an appointment, the physician must check their schedule, consult with the patient, and wait for them to choose a suitable date before scheduling an appointment. This process takes time and can lead to errors.
Progressive healthcare organizations are developing new hybrid care models that efficiently orchestrate in-home care, telehealth, Rx fulfillment, and conventional care delivery to give consumers what they require, when they require it, regardless of the channel being used.
Virtual care delivery models hold the promise of setting forth significant changes within healthcare, furnishing an important opportunity to both attract as well as expand your patient base.
Modifying each aspect of telehealth to make it as patient-centric as possible, and supporting those efforts with innovative customer service tools and technologies, is crucial to improving patient care and boosting engagement on their part.
The future of healthcare delivery is one that leverages virtual care management to augment value-based care solutions. Virtual care is definitely here to stay and there is going to be no better time to invest in bettering it than right now!
Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder and president of Arkenea, a custom healthcare software development company. Rahul has been featured as a technology thought leader across Bloomberg TV, Forbes, HuffPost, Inc, among others.