Technology evolution continues to change consumer experiences across industries, and patient expectations for their healthcare experiences are keeping pace. Healthcare providers must understand that consumers are continuously comparing their healthcare experience on websites, apps, patient messaging, etc. to the standards they’ve come to expect in terms of ease of use and accessibility.
We’ve identified five ways that technology is improving patient communication, engagement, and experience within our healthcare system.
Communicating Across the Patient Care Journey
Communicating with patients outside of an in-person encounter is challenging. Even though 90% of healthcare organizations offer a patient portal, most still see less than 25% patient adoption. That means that between appointments there are a lot of gaps in the patient care journey where they are likely feeling unsupported, confused, and even a bit lost about what’s next.
Forward-thinking healthcare systems are taking a more holistic approach to supporting the care journey by using patient outreach technology that allows them to connect with patients in a way they feel most comfortable. Platforms that offer flexible, customizable communication using multiple modalities — SMS text, downloadable app, interactive voice response (IVR), or a patient portal — can be powerful tools in making it easy for patients to:
- Confirm appointments
- Share how they’re feeling post-procedure
- Access patient education information
- Receive reminders and gentle nudges about care gaps
- Properly prepare for procedures, tests and surgeries
- Safely reduce inpatient stays through proactive monitoring
An engagement platform that offers personalized, two-way communication streamlines provider workload by delivering reminders, check-ins, and other interactive opportunities to create a more cohesive patient care experience.
Forward-thinking healthcare systems are taking a more holistic approach to supporting the care journey by using patient outreach technology that allows them to connect with patients in a way they feel most comfortable.
Today’s consumers have come to expect a personalized technology experience. Their history, preferences, and interests are all taken into account as they connect with a company’s website or app.
Healthcare organizations can embrace a similar approach to personalization using patient engagement software. These systems respond to patient interactions dynamically as they interact with remote patient monitoring devices. For example, if a patient’s blood pressure is normal, a congratulatory message encourages them to keep up the good work, whereas the response to an elevated blood pressure can guide the patient through a repeat measurement or conduct a symptom survey. Care teams are notified when a patient requires intervention, which allows them to focus their time on patients that need them the most, helping to deliver exceptional quality, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.
Providers can further harness the power of personalization throughout a patient’s care journey by integrating with existing health records such as Epic and Cerner. Incorporation of a patient’s history, health goals, and preferences allows you to further personalize the care pathway experience at every interaction.
Making patients feel truly supported in their care, regardless of whether the reassurance is delivered automatically or through human intervention, leads to higher patient satisfaction and a better quality of life.
Power Your Patient Engagement Strategy
Keeping patients on track requires a care platform designed to deliver the right information at the right time.
Learn how Twistle helps streamline care and improve outcomes with proven automated clinical communication software.
Both consumers and providers crave simplicity in our complicated healthcare world. While technology has helped drive many improvements, the network of disconnected systems is often difficult to navigate and patients feel lost in the hand-offs and broken workflow processes.
And even amidst all this automation, we still send patients home with paper notebooks full of complicated and oftentimes conflicting instructions and expect them to figure out the healthy path forward.
Patient engagement technology is a winning solution to the simplicity conundrum. Providers are able to eliminate repetitive administrative communication tasks with automated delivery of education, tips, reminders, and support. And patients receive just-in-time delivery of step-by-step instructions to guide them through their episode of care, such as:
- Please confirm your appointment with physical therapy tomorrow at 8:30 am.
- It’s time to stop taking your blood thinner in preparation for your surgery.
- Your new patient appointment is tomorrow. Please remember to bring your medication list with you.
- We haven’t received your weight today. It’s important that we track your weight to monitor your heart. Please step on the scale within the next hour. Thank you!
- How is your pain this morning? Please rate your pain on the scale below.
Accessibility is also an important component of simplicity. The modern consumer expects a service that is available anytime and anywhere they wish access. In an interconnected, on the go world, a patient engagement solution must be accessible via mobile phone. And while a small portion of patients are willing and able to download and manage access via an app, health systems are wise to remember that SMS text messaging is incredibly more convenient, and therefore a more adopted method of patient outreach and communication.
Data Collection and Analysis
Organizations must constantly strive to achieve the highest level of patient engagement, as the cost of care for patients with low activation is 21 percent higher than those with high activation levels.
Mapping out the patient engagement journey for each use case is not a one-time undertaking. Data analysis will help you uncover opportunities to improve messages in ways that increase the likelihood that they will be read and acted upon. You will undoubtedly discover things like:
- Some providers or practices garner higher overall engagement simply because the physician or nurse asks the patient to read and respond to the text messages
- Informal videos of a physician explaining the importance of responding to messages, or how to prepare for an encounter are incredibly powerful
Effective patient communication provides health systems with a wealth of patient behavior data, which is a powerful tool in evolving your engagement messaging and tactics. Make sure you evolve and customize your outreach messaging protocols using a continuous data feedback loop to improve the patient experience:
- Timing: Are you communicating with patients at times and intervals when they are more likely to engage?
- Frequency: What is the ideal communication frequency? Does that change by service line, procedure, demographic?
- Content: Are you providing too much information or is it too dense to consume? Are you testing tone, empathy, reading level, etc.?
Healthcare Return on Investment
We know margins are thin and you want to have confidence that your patient engagement solution will generate the promised return on clinical, financial and operational outcomes. Learn more about our approach to achieving strong ROI.
Technology has revolutionized the doctor-patient relationship in a short period of time. It has given patients the power to become directly and actively involved in the healthcare process. In an ideal state, patient engagement software and technology should empower patients as active participants in their care plans and provide doctors with effective information from which to support them.
Patient engagement platforms can also help organizations drive broader population health initiatives and long-term lifestyle change that reduces risk factors for chronic disease management — all without increasing staff workload. Patient loyalty builds when healthcare consumers feel connected and supported by their care team. Examples of automated message delivery that improves patient-provider relationships include:
- Date-based reminders with links to schedule annual mammogram, colonoscopy or other screening test
- Seasonal vaccination prompts with links to important information, distribution options, and the ability of the patient to document injections delivered outside your system
- Screening surveys to assess risks of developing chronic conditions, and lifestyle coaching protocols as appropriate
Driven by the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, patients and doctors can also easily share data from connected devices such as activity trackers, digital scales, blood pressure cuffs, and more. This ability to instantaneously share physiologic data has created a more collaborative and effective way of addressing population health issues such as hypertension, medication adherence, and sleep apnea, to name a few.
The evolution of technology continues to raise the bar for consumer expectations of their healthcare providers. But our healthcare delivery system can also benefit from these technological advancements by expanding the ways in which we engage patients in their care.
We must always strive to remove barriers, personalize, and simplify the patient experience throughout their lifetime, not just during in-person encounters. Health is a journey, not an event. Patient outcomes, satisfaction, and loyalty are highly influenced by your ability to activate patients in their care. Organizations are wise to embrace patient engagement technology so they may virtually coach and guide patients over time, and quickly intervene when alerted about early indications of deterioration.