In recent years, hospitals and health systems have focused on ways to improve patient engagement and user experience. This focus on enhanced communication, which other industries have already perfected, has led to the adoption of technologies that can help patients make better care decisions and improve patient care overall.
Of course, technology itself isn’t enough to effectively engage with patients. Strategy and organization must be at the forefront of this movement, and improvements must be made to ensure caregivers are being given tools effective enough to meet a hospital’s goals.
Let’s look at five ways hospitals are using information technology to improve always-on consumer experiences.
More Flexible Messaging
E-mail and phone communication have long been the primary methods of communication between patients and caregivers, but they both allow for lag time that isn’t acceptable these days. Bidirectional messaging is a next-generation form of patient engagement technology that can help patients be more proactive in their healthcare.
Whether these forms of communication are text messages or a hospital’s engagement app, they give patients more control over messaging and can expedite the whole process. Instead of having to rely on urgent car or telehealth options, flexible messaging options give patients a direct connection to their care team. Messaging can also reduce gaps in patient records, help providers retain patients, and meet population health management goals.
The secret to patient engagement is to focus on the individual; everyone has different preferences and, as such, should be engaged with according to these preferences. With the digitization of healthcare data, predictive and artificial intelligence are starting to be employed as a means of understanding an entire population as well as individuals.
The key to effectively using predictive and artificial intelligence is to develop engagement strategies that result in authentic consumer experiences. Information technology will help hospitals and health systems recognize consumer insights and trends, which can then be used to create personal messaging that anticipates an individual’s needs. These targeted messages can be sent at the ideal time while using the individual’s preferred method of communication, which will improve engagement and retention.
Artificial intelligence will give hospitals a way to expedite interactions through automated assistants, self-service opportunities, and fewer touchpoints overall.
A Focus on Lifestyle Support
When it comes to patient experience, most of the complaints come from scheduling, poor process visibility, and unimpressive cost transparency, resulting in individuals feeling unsupported. The technology to solve these problems already exists in the form of workflow tools, scheduling apps, and employees who can go the extra mile to answer patient concerns. Improving patient experience with technology isn’t complex, but it must still be properly implemented. The result should be a hospitals and health systems that share necessary information, listen to feedback, and analyze data to make improvements.
In order to further strengthen relationships with their patients, organizations can then focus on health improvement. Using a patient’s desired communication method, messages can be sent that encourage healthier choices and minimize poor decisions.
The Healthcare Cloud
While there’s a heavy focus on technology itself, it’s not a complete solution that will magically eliminate problems and make patients healthier. Cost of care, one of the biggest problems patients face, isn’t going to be solved without a thought-out strategy. The solution here is proving to be vertically organized groups. These groups handle acute care, ambulatory care, insurance, ancillary care, and even home health.
Payers and some providers are already making this move. Technology comes into play with data and engagement. A successful vertically organized group should use technology to ensure everyone has access to data, as well as visibility and access into other points of the care process. A healthcare cloud will share workflows and aggregate information through several parties.
The last part of patient engagement that must be achieved is connecting providers and patients at the right time with the right information. This is why it’s important for providers to have resources available in multiple languages regardless of the format. Healthcare efforts will only succeed when patients understand the information being given to them.
A hospital’s educational resources should deliver information in digestible doses – whether text, audio, or video – so patients can learn how and when is most convenient. Failing to provide convenient options will only cause more confusion. Another value of deploying technology in this fashion is that a care team can track a patient’s progress.