The long-predicted disruption to healthcare has arrived as top providers have begun embracing telehealth and incorporating technology into routine patient engagement. In an increasingly consumer-driven environment, demonstrating value to health plan members and patients is key. Providers with a tech-first mindset – and the tech ecosystem to match – will have the strategic advantage for patient experiences in 2022.
There’s a lot going into this massive overhaul of the healthcare industry. Providers should be reviewing their data management processes and starting to digitize them if they haven’t already. It’s not just about the digital transformation and all that those updates entail, although they certainly are important.
Providers should also be implementing omnichannel processes and patient data integration methods that reflect members’/participants’ communication preferences, as well as making sure consent follows these preferences. Providers that don’t do so can retain and expand their patient base, as well as create a competitive advantage
The rise of healthcare “consumerism”
Patient experiences are starting to resemble our retail shopping experiences, with video visits to the doctor, prescriptions being filled online and in apps, and receiving test results as quickly as you can click “Add to cart.”
This trend was rising slowly before the pandemic, but the explosion of telehealth in 2020 quickly changed the lagging adoption of healthcare technologies.
As a result, the prospect of “smart” hospitals has never seemed closer, or more intriguing. This shift in consumer expectation about the location of care coincides with the emergence of the Internet of Things. Akin to smart homes with speakers, lights, and cameras, automating and informing activities by healthcare professionals can be augmented when used appropriately in hospitals.
Security & health data exchanges
Dealing with large amounts of patient data makes health plans a prime target for security breaches. And the entire industry is trying to quickly integrate numerous data sources that have the potential to create vulnerabilities. Health companies moving too slowly with technology adoption can lead to irreparable harm as well.
To avoid data breaches, healthcare providers need to ensure HIPAA compliance across the organization. This means minimizing the number of agents who can access sensitive patient information,using system permissions to manage who can access specific patient data, and masking sensitive patient data to limit the information displayed to employees.
Virtual agents and webchat apps are increasingly guiding patients through the earliest stages of the care process, replacing the manual, high-touch processes we still see a lot of. For example, if a patient is looking for a doctor in their area, they can access the portal on their health system’s website, chat with a virtual agent about what issue they’re experiencing, get personalized recommendations and then directly book an appointment.
With the automation of the clinical work (the patient doesn’t have to speak to a healthcare worker about their symptoms until they’re at the facility) and the administrative work (the patient doesn’t have to call an office to set up an appointment), both patients and healthcare staff are saving time, money, and doing so seamlessly.
Call volumes will increase as large providers push telehealth
As is the case across many industries, call volumes have been on their use in the healthcare sector as more visits move to online video conferences. During the pandemic telehealth was a necessity, but the convenience of it has rubbed off on consumers and it seems it’s here to stay. The frictionless experience of chatting with a doctor over the phone or via video chat gives patients the flexibility to manage their health on the go right from their mobile device.
In fact, according to Pew Research Center, 58% of smartphone users have downloaded a health app and 62% have used a smartphone to research a health condition. In addition, 85% of patients use their smartphones to contact their healthcare providers. As mobile devices grow in popularity, healthcare providers need to ensure a seamless mobile experience, both online and over the phone, in 2022.
With the usage of mobile growing exponentially among patients, it is expected that they will look for a seamless omnichannel experience across their health journey. To earn their business in 2022, healthcare providers will have to ensure that their patients feel valued and known at every step.