3 Principles for a Seamless Patient Digital Experience

3 Principles for a Seamless Patient Digital Experience. A blue cross in a white medallion in front of a digital screen with health care icons on it.

Hospitals and health systems are ramping up efforts to create seamless digital consumer experiences that rival those found in retail.

Health care organizations reported new levels of use in patient portals, online health information gathering and mobile apps in the 2021 Most Wired Survey conducted by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

Prioritizing Patient Preferences

Recent reports also indicate that digital health leaders are prioritizing tools to improve patient engagement and outcomes.

Among the findings from a survey of CHIME members conducted by the patient engagement platform developer Intrado:

  • 77% of the 50 respondents are investing in enhanced portals and mobile apps.
  • More than half plan to invest soon in technology to expand communications with patients via Short Message Service (text) systems.
  • Nearly 40% have automated engagement workflows like appointment self-scheduling, referral management and pre-procedure communications.

In addition, 60% of organizations are adding new digital projects, with 42% of providers accelerating their existing digital transformation plans, according to a CB Insights report from Q2 2021. The top three areas in which health care organizations are investing all come with an eye toward improving the consumer experience:

Telemedicine: 75%. Electronic health record (EHR) capability: 64%. Patient portals or digital messaging systems: 56%.

This focus has become an urgent strategic imperative, notes John Glaser, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, in a recent Harvard Business Review report. He encourages health care leaders to keep in mind these points as they use technology to improve the patient experiences at every touch point in the care journey.

3 Ways to View Patient Experience

Recognize that technology is only part of the solution. Consumers expect more than the ability to use their mobile devices to make appointments or see their blood test results. They expect to make appointments based on their choice of time and location and to obtain context on their blood tests, including if they are OK, what they should focus on and what should come next.

1. Deliver a Superb Customer Experience

A superb customer experience, Glaser explains, requires thoughtful analysis of core processes and the skilled application of technology, process and culture change, as well as strengthening accountability.

2. Think Broadly about Patient-Centric Processes

Consumer experience encompasses a wide range of interactions patients have across a health system. Advances in sensors, mobile devices and telehealth technologies allow the locations of care and care management to extend beyond traditional facilities. These new venues of care (including the home) bring both opportunities and challenges for patient experiences.

Think through processes such as providing technical support for wearable devices, logistical support for specimen collections at home, and ensuring high-quality remote physician coverage of caring for a patient at home.

3. Seek Opportunities to Deliver Exceptional Experiences

Using a health care lens, think about how retail companies apply consumer data to improve experiences. Leverage data from the EHR, social factors influencing health and patient-reported outcomes to personalize messages, treatment options, health-maintenance programs and lifestyle-change programs. Also, think about how you can expand wearable technologies to create a digitally based experience.

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