Digital patient engagement is a balancing act of determining where resources should be deployed and how to create cheer-worthy experiences.
The stakes for delivering the right mobile experience in healthcare have never been higher. A recent Accenture survey found digital engagement has a significant influence on patient retention. This raises pressure for health systems to design digital tools and experiences that strengthen patient loyalty and protect or increase revenue.
Meanwhile, across the country, it’s clear that digital health is driving “healthcare’s regeneration,” according to the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME). The most recent CHIME Digital Health Most Wired Survey indicates health systems are increasingly relying on digital interactivity to engage patients and families—and they are doing so in more sophisticated ways.
How do leading hospitals leverage digital platforms to improve the patient experience—and what could other hospitals and health systems learn from their approach? Here are three insights from the latest Most Wired survey.
- Mobile functionality is ramping up in healthcare. Among the more than 38,000 organizations responding to the Most Wired survey, one trend that stood out is the increased array of mobile functionalities health systems are leveraging to engage consumers. These include price lists for services (14% increase), health maintenance campaigns (14% increase), mobile check-in (10% increase) and event alerts (13% increase).
There is a clear connection between the increase in the use of mobile solutions and improved scores on the Most Wired survey.
One example is Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, which put all its consumer-facing digital services into a single mobile app for patients and their families last year and went on to achieve Level 8 on Most Wired. Such an approach offers enhanced access and convenience for families of children with complex conditions, who might travel an hour or more for in-person care. At Nicklaus Children’s, leaders believe digital access to live support and resources is critical to maintaining children’s health and providing peace of mind for parents.
- There’s a move toward patient-staff digital interactions. While efforts to promote patient-staff interactions via digital devices are still relatively new, more health systems are putting staff in the digital driver’s seat. CHIME’s Most Wired survey revealed notable increases in efforts to train patients and their families on interactive devices (19%) and using technology to support care plan adherence (11%).
To make greater progress in this area, health systems should devote more attention to securing staff buy-in for a health system’s digital offerings prior to go-live. At Baptist Health, when employees learned the health system’s mobile app could support smooth transitions in care for patients, the health system recorded more than 2,000 downloads of its “Baptist Access” app even before the app’s official launch date. Many of these downloads were made by staff members, who recognized the impact the app could have on patient care and service.
- Video education goes mobile. The Most Wired survey showed a dramatic increase in the use of patient- and family-facing videos to educate patients and families about procedures (16%), labs and test results (16%) and medications (11%). These videos can easily be incorporated into a health system’s mobile app to offer a convenient digital tool for reducing the stress associated with an upcoming procedure or helping patients better manage their care.
Among the most frequently used video resources: family education videos (83%), videos about procedures (81%, up 16% over 2021) and health education videos (78%). About two-thirds of organizations offer a health library and incorporate video in health maintenance campaigns and education on medication use.
It’s clear that as digital engagement advances, more health systems are leaning into digital to personalize the patient and family experience. This is exemplified by efforts to target specific groups for specific types of digital education and resources, says Michael Saad, chief information officer, University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville. “The pandemic surely accelerated this move to more targeted digital offerings, but the healthcare industry is absolutely headed to personalized digital care and support,” he says.
Engagement by Design
Achieving optimal digital engagement in healthcare is a challenge. It requires the development of a digital strategy based on consumers’ expectations and desire for increased ease in navigating their care journey without adding a burden to the health system. To effectively operationalize a true patient-centric digital strategy, keep the experiences of Most Wired survey participants and award winners in mind.
About Joshua Titus
Joshua Titus, CEO at Gozio Health, is passionate about creating mobile technology that informs and delights users. This passion led him to co-found Gozio after spending two decades in the left lane of high-growth silicon valley technology companies like NVIDIA. He has authored 11 patents and holds an electrical and computer engineering degree from University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.