The coronavirus (COVID-19) has been the single greatest challenge to the healthcare industry in 2020. COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on medical workers, the hospital system, and the country as a whole. As the country, and the world, struggles to get the virus under control, the pandemic has highlighted several additional challenges in the healthcare industry.
Top Challenges in Healthcare in 2020
Moving to telehealth
Connecting with patients started to move towards telemedicine prior to 2020, but as COVID-19 cases spread and people began to stay home to stay safe, healthcare needed to figure out ways to see patients safely. Telehealth grew from 11% during 2019 to 46% in 2020. A patient experience survey conducted about telemedicine and AI in healthcare found that 84% of patients are more likely to choose a provider who offers telemedicine over one who doesn’t. The healthcare industry needed to pivot to ensure they had the technology framework available to accommodate the increased demand.
In the age of technology, 64% of people say they would prefer to message rather than call a business, and 60% say they are open to receiving personal messages from companies. Similarly, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a majority of patients wish to view their lab results online and get access to their other information online as well. The healthcare industry has been challenged to figure out how to transition to more digital ways of communicating with patients and meeting their technological expectations. This desire to go digital has increased even more during COVID-19 as patients have been less willing to meet with healthcare personnel in person.
As with all industries relying on technology, protection of data is a primary concern. The healthcare industry focuses on patient data security because of laws like HIPAA, and adding in tech only creates another layer of security complexity.
The growth of telehealth has been a main source of increasing breached patient records. The healthcare industry is challenged with putting systems in place to protect the privacy of patients across all digital initiatives. As more healthcare functions continue to move online over the next year, it’ll be important to ensure these processes are protected from outside threats.
Invoicing and payment processing
Consumers want their experiences across all industries to mirror the ease of ordering on Amazon. This is relevant not only for appointments with doctors (telehealth), but also with the payment and processing. Healthcare institutions are challenged to find a way to create the most frictionless process.
Unifying access in healthcare institutions
Healthcare companies are diverse systems with many different departments that can often be siloed from each other. Many of these departments (think accounts payable versus patient intake) need similar patient information, but are working separate from each other. The healthcare industry is tasked with finding ways to unify this experience.
Solutions and Opportunities in 2021
Move to the cloud
Transitioning to cloud based technologies allow healthcare institutions cut down on operational expenses while delivering personalized care. Cloud solutions provide a centralized location to share data and insights across the proper channels and store all of the necessary information.
Cloud-based telemedicine improves accessibility, increases resource availability, and increases interoperability, all while saving costs.
A unified CRM provides the unified place for all areas of the business to access the same information in a seamless manner. A CRM takes the information from existing systems and puts it together in one view. This helps to solve the fractured nature of many healthcare departments, while also improving customer experience, as each person a customer interacts with has the same necessary information to personalize conversations.
Omnichannel solutions help to solve several of the challenges presented to the healthcare industry in 2020. Customers are looking for a seamless experience in all of their interactions, including healthcare. Omnichannel, which can include SMS, voice, email, webchat, and more, puts in place several avenues of communication with patients.
As mentioned earlier, patients are looking to interact with healthcare like they do any other business. They want to be able to communicate at their convenience on their device of choice. The healthcare industry has the opportunity to implement technology to meet the patients where they are and give them the self-service options they crave.
In the 2020 patient experience survey by Software Advice, 31% of respondents said that they have interacted with AI-powered chatbots and virtual nurses on their healthcare providers’ websites to get answers to their questions.
Self service options are key for both customer experience, and also efficiency and cost saving for the healthcare industry. By offering ways for patients to get the information they need via virtual agents, interactive voice response (IVR) or chatbots, healthcare institutions need fewer humans on the other end of the line. These solutions can help streamline frequently asked questions, scheduling in-person or telehealth appointments, accessing a personal patient record, or checking the status of an insurance payment.
Secure payment capture
Secure payment capture helps provide a secure system to process payments. Healthcare companies can implement an IVR system to allow patients to process their own payments, or work with an agent to process the payment, who would not have access to any of the secure information. Utilizing a feature like this helps neutralize a security risk, while adding a digital resource for customers.