Offering intuitive, easy access for patients is nothing new in the long-held desire to be on the doorstep of healthcare. It is just as important now to pay as much attention to these key engagement factors as the hospitality and retail sectors are paying attention to the consumer experience.
The consumer comes first when it comes to hotel stays, air travel and retail. Unlike a trip or an afternoon of shopping, few people embark on a health journey and expect it to be a fun and enjoyable experience. Why is healthcare often a subpar experience?
When we need to see a doctor, we are often scared, uncomfortable, stressed, in pain or tired. We are often not sure what the forecast will be. The experience can be physically and emotionally draining. These factors make it all the more important that healthcare is as accessible, flexible and transparent as possible.
Online scheduling platforms provide digital front doors to healthcare, an ideal place to enhance and enhance the patient experience.
There are a few key factors healthcare providers need to consider to be effective: access, transparency, and flexibility.
The vaccine program initiated to fight the Covid-19 pandemic encouraged nurses and others to visit their hospital’s website so they could make appointments for their loved ones to receive the vaccine. The call to action – ensuring that patients and their loved ones can schedule an appointment for these critical preventive measures – provided a strong incentive to use the website as a digital doorstep for these appointments. However, to keep patients and their caregivers involved, providers need to deliver a consistent digital experience.
A Accenture 2021 report, based on a survey of 399 healthcare executives, found that 81 percent said the pace of digital transformation is accelerating for their organizations.
“To be successful, the healthcare C-suite must take a digital, people-centric approach across all areas of the organization,” the report said. “They will shape the future and realize that business and technology strategies are becoming increasingly indistinguishable from one another. This is a unique moment to rebuild the world better than it was before the pandemic. “
Access is also important and goes hand in hand with healthcare personalization. Some segments of the patient population will prefer to make appointments over the phone and meet with providers in person. Others want to be able to access their medical records online and easily share medical information with doctors who may work in other hospitals.
Creating a cross-channel experience is also important as people prefer different modes of communication and enjoy the flexibility of using text messages and emails to confirm appointments, lab results, notifications of replenishment of prescription drugs, etc. It is important for health organizations to invest in making SMS access to providers as easy as email.
Although virtual visits were on the rise before the pandemic, Covid-19 forced hospitals and doctor’s offices to rapidly scale this technology. Most patients are able to navigate video conferencing technology by themselves, but private and family caregivers have been essential to fill the occasional technology gap.
To ensure a consistently engaging patient experience, healthcare organizations need to understand the diverse preferences of their patient population and make it easy for people to use those that suit their level of comfort. The increasing refinement of virtual visits not only as a vehicle for non-invasive follow-up appointments, but also for areas such as behavioral health to meet people in the comfort of their own home, will continue to evolve for various disciplines.
Transparency is a hot topic and indeed there are many barriers in this area to making medical procedure costs easily accessible, timely, and relevant for patients to make informed decisions. If providers could work effectively with patients to help them choose insurance options, it would be an important step that not only improves patients’ assessment of health options, but also enables them to make informed decisions about their care .
Health care providers should constantly ask themselves these questions: How can we make the health experience less stressful for patients, how can we make care planning flexible and convenient, and how can we work with payers for greater transparency?
The healthcare consumer experience will never and should never be comparable to travel or retail. But it should make information more accessible and provide a range of tools similar to the online appointment registration process offered by BetterHealthcare, which is intuitive and easy to navigate.
Photo: Mathisworks, Getty Images