September 27, 2018
Technological advancements are empowering consumers every day. Organizations around the world are realizing that customer satisfaction is the key to success in this highly competitive business landscape, and operating in a customer-centric model is the need of the hour. This need is increasingly growing in the healthcare industry.
Patients, who are the ultimate consumers in the industry, want more than care and treatment today. They want their treatment experience to be seamless, convenient and transparent, and they don’t mind switching providers if they aren’t getting what they need. A survey conducted later last year showed that 88% of patients would switch to another provider if they were not satisfied with the existing one.
Therefore, it’s crucial for the providers to understand the pain-points for patients through various stages of their healthcare journey and explore ways to address them using artificial intelligence, internet of things, cloud computing and machine learning. This blog attempts to highlight these pain-points and how technology can be leveraged to devise efficient patient engagement solutions.
This is the first challenge patients face. Many of them find it challenging to book an appointment due to their location or dearth of time at hand. The level of inconvenience rises further in case they are seeing multiple consultants as it becomes even more difficult to keep track of all the appointments.
Patients face the same problem in the follow-up. As the patients start to recover, they sometimes forget about the appointment which can have adverse effects. Moreover, given their hectic schedule, doctors also tend to miss the appointments which cause unnecessary delays and inconvenience to the patients.
What’s more concerning here is that in the absence of a unified health system, doctors don’t have access to a complete health profile of the patient. Therefore, the patient has to repeat the information such as symptoms, tests, treatment history, all over again during each follow-up visit. This results in loss of time, money and of course, peace of mind.
Solution: Healthcare providers can consider developing healthcare apps involving the patients. Patients can use the app to book an appointment at their convenient time. Moreover, these intelligent apps can send them the reminders on their appointments so that there is no risk of losing track.
The pain grows further when it comes to registering for the appointment. In large healthcare centers, in particular, it is a tedious task for the patients to check in, and find the right department for consulting. What makes it harder is the inability and impatience of the medical staff to attend to the needs and preferences of individual patients, given the limited number of professionals to cater to all patients. Long waiting time further augments the patients’ woes. This problem can become even severe in case of emergency.
And once they’re registered, they have to repeat the same information about their problems, symptoms, health history all over again. Due to unavailability of details on patient’s medical history and lack of time, doctors hardly have any information on patient’s specific needs and they tend to skip hearing the patient. Thus, they end up prescribing unnecessary tests and failing to provide them with low-cost treatment options and guidance on taking care.
Solution: Healthcare apps can be a big rescue here as well. They can inform the patients about facilities, medical specialists etc. and update them on waiting time, treatment information and costs. The provider should also consider developing a healthcare software or portal for the doctors who can use it to get reminders on appointments and understand the complete medical history of the patient so that there is no need of repeating the information, and they can prepare for the patient in advance to avoid unnecessary delay in treatment. This would help the doctors get more face time with patients and determine the right tests and prescriptions.
Also, in emergency situations, portal extracts and forwards relevant medical information to the team to help it provide the best support at the earliest.
Long queues and waiting time continue to be there at diagnostic centers and pharmacies. Arranging for and conducting tests further add to the waiting time.
Solution: The healthcare portal can update the diagnostic centers with patient information and recommended tests. This helps the centers make all the preparations beforehand and update the patients on waiting time, tests results and diagnosis. The portal can also help the pharmacists in a similar manner and they can keep the prescribed medication ready, thus cutting down on waiting time.
Monitoring health in recovery phase is crucial. However, it often becomes a challenge for the patients as their access to the doctor or consultant is limited. They also lack the technical expertise to monitor their health and recovery, daily, and therefore they struggle with following the prescribed medication and advised exercises.
Solution: Through portals, doctors can get updates on patients’ test reports and monitor their health recovery. They can further leverage health apps to share health tips with patients and answer patient queries using health apps. The patient can also use the apps to reach the support team, get medication reminders and notify emergency contact if needed. Wearable devices are a perfect example of this. In addition to this, machine learning and chatbots can be transformational in health monitoring and recovery as they can provide patients with personalized responses and health-specific ideas.
Out-of-pocket expenditure has been a dominant concern for the patients. There is no clarity in the expense structure and they don’t get a lot of cooperation from the providers in resolving insurance claim issues. Additionally, their feedback generally doesn’t get the due attention. Another concern with payment and settlement is that the most of the current healthcare models have limited payment modes for the patients.
Solution: Integration of app and portal can update the patients on the cost breakdown and process their payments and share their feedback with the providers. Insurance team can use the portal to get patient insurance info and cost breakdown and send their coverage validation to the hospitals.
Delivering exceptional care to patients is one of the bare-minimums for healthcare providers. They need to keep patient satisfaction as one of the top priorities, considering they always have a number of other options otherwise.
It’s time for the caregiver organizations to understand what the needs and preferences of the patients are, and act upon their feedback to ensure a satisfactory healthcare experience for them. Technology can be a great means to meet this objective. Healthcare software and app development should be one of the key priorities to craft effective patient engagement solutions and deliver a seamless experience.