Technology adoption in the independent healthcare sector continues at breakneck speed. However, digitizing engagement with patients between appointments is one area where health providers have been slower to adopt. Even during COVID, research from the SMB Group showed one-fifth of healthcare providers had no plans to implement cloud technologies, which is a vital step for transforming communication processes.
Part of the reason is the fear of poor implementation, which can backfire and lead to reduced communication between patients and providers, eventually causing knock-on effects on the quality of care patients receive. Especially as telehealth is on the rise and pressure mounts to continually scale up on operations, it’s absolutely paramount that care providers understand how to make the most use of digital solutions for managing patient relationships.
When done correctly with the right tools, clinics and private providers that have gone digital are able to provide a better patient experience. Simple actions like automating follow-ups and reminders, having all the right records in one place so patients receive the best and most accurate service, empowering patients by giving them access to their transaction and interaction histories – these solutions alleviate friction and lay the groundwork for more engaged relationships.
Investments in Better, Easier Care Models
Smart communication technology has the capacity to revolutionize patient care by meeting patient needs. In practical terms, CRMs and messaging capabilities help keep patients more aware of how providers can serve them beyond check-ups or specific appointments.
By sending out community updates and announcements, along with personalized educational material, providers can keep patients fully up-to-date on the services on offer to them. “Patients want to be informed, engaged, and connected to all the stakeholders within the healthcare system in order to become an expert in their treatment pathway,” writes Deloitte’s Luc Brucher in a white paper on smart health.
Providers with poorly implemented communication tools, or providers that have resisted digitizing, are unable to meet those patients where they are.
What’s more, digitizing communications and transactions increases efficiency in the clinic. “Offering a secure, user-friendly, and HIPAA-compliant portal, where patients can access their records, message with professionals, book appointments, and make payments makes a big difference,” says Itzik Levy, co-founder, and CEO of vcita.
“And the value goes in both directions, too,” Levy adds. “Care providers also want these things, because it allows them to onboard patients with less friction and keep in touch with them between appointments in a more organized manner.”
A Growing Trend of Patient Empowerment through Tech
Even though automating something as simple as sending out an appointment reminder can feel like a small and insignificant step, the push to go digital is part of a burgeoning movement in the healthcare industry to use technology of all kinds to improve patient care. Innovations like telemedicine were absolutely vital during the COVID epidemic, and providers are adopting AI as a tool to accomplish anything from safeguarding patients’ personal identifiable information to predicting disease trends.
It’s easy to overlook digitizing records and appointment notes as unrelated to patient outcomes, but the more streamlined health providers become, the more they will be able to focus on meaningfully interacting with patients and providing the best care possible.
It also reflects a move towards empowering patients. Patients have a growing appetite to be fully informed on the circumstances of their own health. “Digital health can play a central role in supporting patients in their journey towards being more empowered,” writes Elena Pirofalo, head of experience at Healthware International, in a blog post in Pharma Phorum.
Providers that have stepped up to meet those demands give patients a holistic view into their own health.
How Providers Can Step up to the Challenge
Health care providers may fear failing their patients by complicating existing systems, no matter how labor-intensive and distancing they may be. The upside, however, is too big to overlook.
To ensure the rollout of digitized communication goes smoothly, there are a few key aspects to keep in mind. Full adoption from staff helps to avoid inconsistent, piecemeal usage. In addition, patients should be aware of the transition during the rollout. Digital communication and contact management are about putting patients first, and the implementation should be no different.