Capacity emerges to be the most immediate threat to the healthcare industry, and this is not limited to the U.S. This problem is evident everywhere. The healthcare system was already overburdened before the pandemic and now due to the huge gap between the rising demand and the depleting supply, beds and other health-related resources are becoming almost unavailable. There are critical deficits of space, staff, and supplies, all leading to a poor experience of your patient. This is where technology comes in handy, enabling you to create and manage capacity by automating patient flows.
The Paradigm Shift in Healthcare Technology
The patient care, capacity issues in hospitals, social distancing norms, and Government regulations, all signal a necessary change in healthcare and digital ecosystems that hospitals operate within. As these issues demand immediate resolution, technology will change how patients engage and interact with healthcare providers. Telemedicine has opened avenues for medical professionals to treat patients more conveniently and efficiently.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also known as “telehealth” or “e-health”, refers to the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic and telecommunication technologies. This leads to long-distance patient and clinician contact, care, health reminders, advice, education, monitoring, intervention, and remote admissions.
Remember patients demand telemedicine and self-service at-home diagnosis solutions for convenience, low cost, and ready accessibility of health-related information and communication. Understand “what’s good for people is good for business” too. Considering how crucial a patient’s experience is in times of today, healthcare providers should plan and invest to ensure they are prepared to take their first step towards the “new normal”.
What are a few of the ways to enhance patients’ experience today?
1. Develop an in-depth understanding of patient needs
To drive effective behavior change, lessen the burden on healthcare organizations, and increase preventive care, there is an urgent need to deeply understand what patients want during these times. But how to make this possible:
a. Use customer 360-degree view to gain insights – Customer relationship managers should offer access to real-time data and insights on patients’ medical history and treatment, enabling employees at healthcare organizations to act effectively based on the analysis. Healthcare organizations should have a means to aggregate different sources of data while combining predictive analytics and historical trends. Only then can they uncover potential health risks as well as gain a holistic patient view, leading to increased customer loyalty, a good customer experience, and a competitive advantage.
b. Invest in marketing infrastructure – Before we learn how marketing infrastructure investments help in acquiring new patients, let’s understand what marketing infrastructure is. It refers to the development of all the requisite internet and social media platforms as well as profiles that you need in the connected world of today to build your business.
Marketing infrastructure also includes setting up services necessary to maintain and grow these platforms as well as your business. As more and more patients rely on the web for medical information, healthcare brands must align with the needs of their patients across the web. You can maximize outreach and acquire more patients through:
- Developing a high converting website
- Leveraging email marketing
- Building credibility through social media
- Spending on SEO and paid searches
- Managing a stellar reputation online
Majority of web users today look online for information about doctors or other health professionals.
c. Focus more on personalization – Healthcare consumers of today look forward to a customer-centric experience, an experience that resonates with them as individuals, making it critical for healthcare organizations to rely on their patient personas, and not simply depend on demographics. Understand the cultural and emotional behavior of your patients. Technologies to enable this are not only mature but readily available.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) enables marketers in the healthcare industry to understand their patients better by accessing psychographic elements from their social profiles and web usage patterns. This aids them in customizing persuasive appeals and offer targeted recommendations based on patients’ interests, lifestyle, personality, and attitudes. Psychographic segmentation can also help healthcare providers leverage AI technology to improve health outcomes.
2. Accelerate the Pace of Technology
Not only does technology help to reduce the urgent capacity issue facing the healthcare industry, but also build a foundation to improve patient care in the future in a post-pandemic world. There are many ways in which technology empowers healthcare organizations and patients.
a. Self-serving patients – You can keep patients informed and involved in their care, only when you make critical healthcare information easily accessible to them. Patients need to have a thorough understanding of their diagnoses, treatments, and their implications. Your patients insist on greater transparency and access to their medical records. Once they have that, they will more likely adhere to treatment plans.
Besides, patient portals offer an easy way for patients to schedule appointments, pay bills, view test results, and communicate with doctors they are undergoing treatment with. Around 90% of patients prefer to use a visual IVR to complete their appointment scheduling requests faster and get seamlessly transferred to a live person without any kind of information repeat.
b. AI to focus on complex cases – In times of today, there is wider availability of intelligent digital platforms for self-diagnosis. AI helps clinicians detect patients at risk of disease progression by identifying the problems mentioned in the historical medical records of patients as structured and unstructured text. Doctors can thus easily get a summary of the history of their patient’s care around those medical issues. Smart algorithms also help to predict death risk among inpatients.
Researchers at Stanford University trained an AI system to increase the number of inpatients who get end-of-life care exactly when they need it. The algorithm could signal still-living patients in a hospital’s system, appropriate for palliative care. The team at Stanford Hospital found all these patients suitable to be referred. Indeed, the harmonious collaboration of digital technologies and people results in the greater good of humanity.
c. Better virtual care – Due to pandemic outbreaks, like the one going on, healthcare providers witness an increase in virtual visits. This is the era of conversational AI and its effect can be felt the most in the area of virtual care. AI technologies usher us in a new age where virtual patient care, right from appointment scheduling to medication management and urgent care direction, has become possible due to virtual care tools.
Online care of patients ensures that initial diagnosis is conducted, limiting the number of patients sitting in doctor’s clinics and waiting rooms. Most importantly, patients can be treated without any in-person contact.
d. Voice assistants – More than 50% of patients are interested in using a voice assistant to help themselves with a healthcare use case. In the healthcare industry, there are two key groups of potential users, including physicians and patients. Physicians often use chatbots to take patient notes, process data related to their patients, and access records.
On the patient front, AI-powered virtual assistants offer 24/7 on-demand care. People with chronic disease experiencing flare-ups, remote patients, and disabled with family caregivers, benefit the most from powerful chatbots. These virtual assistants not only minimize the administrative burden on healthcare organizations but play a key role in delivering a delightful patient experience by allowing patients to self-serve and help themselves in self-isolation. Relevant today is the AI-powered coronavirus “self-checker” chatbot assisting ill people to find out if they should visit the hospital.
e. Microservices to deliver preventive care – Proactive notifications such as content, services, and questions revolutionize the ability to promote and deliver preventive care as your fitness band nudges you to stand or breathe to lower the heart rate. Patients gather data, develop insights, and act to support informed decisions and behavior using mobile technology.
This shows that a microservices approach is used these days to speed up application development. As you transition from monolithic applications to such smaller self-contained microservices, patients are empowered to learn how to avoid poor air quality and allergens and comply with isolation guidelines.
Are you doing your bit to enhance your patient’s experience?
Healthcare organizations investing in their patients via technology are guaranteed to delight them now and once we return to the “new normal”. Digital transformation is a necessity for healthcare in a post-crisis world. It’s time you unlock the value of patient’s experience in first-party data as well as technology while achieving ROI to create patient and business value.