Federal and state policy changes, the shift of healthcare costs onto consumers, and the need to stand out in a competitive industry have made patient experience a top priority for healthcare organizations. With 80% of CIOs saying that the patient experience is the highest organizational priority, it’s increasingly important that hospitals and clinics offer technologies that make care more accessible and convenient.
The shift to leveraging digital technology to make the healthcare experience better and more transparent has provided a new avenue of care: digital health. Digital technology can transform the patient experience and will continue to play a critical role in how patient’s engage with your organization. A few digital technologies transforming patient experience in 2019 include: online scheduling and check-in, two-way texting, and telehealth.
1. Online Scheduling and Check-in: Streamlines and Personalizes Experience
With the amount of healthcare provider options available and patients now expecting quick service and low wait times, patients won’t wait weeks to get an appointment at your office. Online appointment booking capabilities will soon be the norm with 45% of patients preferring to use digital methods to request an appointment (i.e. non-voice interaction including online tools, mobile apps, or email).
Patients also prefer healthcare providers that offer online appointment booking. In fact, 42% of patients will choose a healthcare provider because of the ability to use online scheduling. Providing this capability keeps patients returning and attracts new patients to your organization.
Implementing the best appointment booking software for your practice will ensure that you have the right software that maximizes productivity and isn’t a burden on your staff. Online booking software vendors such as AppointmentPlus, Kareo,CareCloud, vCita, and SimplePractice are good options to begin your search for the best partner.
Going even further, implementing patient check-in software streamlines the patient registration and check-in process. This entire process can be completed on the patient’s phone. And, it can integrate with your Practice Management or EHR solution. That means your staff won’t have to interpret handwriting or re-type data since patient information will pull directly from your system.
2. Two-Way Texting: Provides New Way of Communicating
Communication with your patients is a necessary task, but it’s also time consuming. Two-way texting gives your patients access to confirm booked appointments and receive appointment reminders. With 71% of patients preferring appointment reminders via digital means (i.e. email and text) and 53% of patients preferring reminders via text, it’s important that your healthcare organization starts capitalizing on two-way texting.
Keeping patients updated about their individual health and pushing out large-scale communications are easy ways to keep your patients engaged and informed. Text messages can be used for things like:
- Reminding patients about appointments and annual checkups
- Informing patients about current wait times on their scheduled appointment days
- Notifying patients when prescriptions are ready or need refilled
- Alerting patients of test results
- Reminding patients to get their annual flu shots
- Raising awareness about dangerous diseases
- Practice closures due to holidays or inclement weather
Implementing two-way text messaging is an easy way to improve communication with your patients and a simple way to improve patient experience. Choosing a texting solution that is integrated with your existing patient management system makes it convenient for your staff to use. And, a program that doesn’t require any extra passwords or downloads for your patients increases the likelihood that they will take advantage of the communication method as well.
3. Telehealth: Redefines Care Delivery
Traditional healthcare delivery options have mostly been limited to hospitals and medical offices. However, technology is broadening the scope of where care can occur. Most experts emphasize the increasing importance of telehealth and digital medicine in changing how patients and providers interact.
Telehealth benefits include:
- Makes healthcare more accessible to people who live in rural or isolated communities
- Makes services more convenient for people with limited mobility, time, or transportation options
- Provides readily available access to medical specialists
- Improves communication and coordination of providers and patients
- Provides support for self-management of healthcare
- Patients can continue to see their trusted provider if they travel a lot for work, are stay-at-home parents, or move away
Healthcare organizations can capitalize on telehealth benefits by offering a variety of amenities that streamline and simplify care. A patient portal can be used for the patient to communicate with the provider, request prescription refills, review test results and summaries of visits, and schedule appointments or request appointment reminders. Virtual appointments can be offered so patients can receive ongoing care from their provider when an in-person visit isn’t required or possible. These appointments also give patients the ability to be seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner for minor illnesses, similar to services available at a drop-in clinic.
Patients aren’t a component of your healthcare technology plan. They’re the point of it. Healthcare organizations are competing on more than just price, access to care, and traditional measures of quality. Patients are increasingly measuring their experience based on their health outcomes and their care path.
There are many digital technologies transforming patient experience in 2019 and beyond. Healthcare organizations delivering the best patient experience will be the same ones excelling at accessibility and convenience via digital technology.