Remember the last time you were navigating to a new location in a busy city during rush hour traffic. You are already running behind, all the lanes are packed with vehicles, horns honking, construction cones all around you, and you suddenly realize the lane you’re driving in just forced you onto a bridge heading in the wrong direction and the traffic is so thick and hurried that there’s no way you can safely change lanes.
We’ve all been there, and I’ll wager your blood pressure is spiking just thinking about it. I’ve ended up on the Ben Franklin Bridge heading out of Philadelphia into New Jersey more than once because of situations like this. Trying to navigate busy and unfamiliar streets when you are already stressed is a harrowing experience.
Now imagine each of those multiple lanes of traffic represents a different communication channel in healthcare. Currently, patients navigate through a fractured multichannel experience, much like maneuvering through a chaotic traffic junction without clear direction. With multiple communication channels available, such as phone calls, text messages, emails, patient portals, mailed letters, and social media, patients often find themselves navigating a fractured multichannel experience. This leads to confusion and a lack of continuity in their healthcare journey.
However, healthcare consumers are increasingly seeking an omnichannel approach, where these communication channels function together seamlessly, akin to a well-synchronized traffic system that ensures smooth and efficient flow.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the current state of patient communication, and what can be done to remedy its shortcomings.
As previously discussed, a fragmented approach to patient engagement and communication often leads to inefficiencies, gaps in care, and frustration for both patients and healthcare providers.
A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlights that patients reported difficulties in accessing their health information through different channels and expressed frustration with the lack of coordination among these channels.1 This fractured multichannel experience can result in communication breakdowns, delayed responses, and a lack of continuity in care.
The topic of data sharing and interoperability is also a challenge. Different communication channels may store patient information in separate systems, making it difficult to access and share critical data in real-time, especially if the data was collected via a paper form. This can hinder care coordination and limit the ability to provide personalized and timely healthcare services.
Consequently, many patients struggle to remember their care plan, forget about appointments, and don’t understand when or how to pay for their care. One study even found that between “40-80% of medical information provided by healthcare providers is forgotten immediately.”2
So what can be done?
To address these challenges, there is a growing recognition of the need for an omnichannel approach in patient communications. An omnichannel approach aims to seamlessly integrate communication channels and provide patients with a consistent and personalized experience across various touchpoints. This approach allows patients to engage with healthcare providers through their preferred channels while ensuring that information is readily accessible and shared among different systems.
A recent survey found that 77% of patients believe it is important for healthcare providers to offer a seamless experience across different communication channels.3 Healthcare consumers increasingly expect a unified and connected experience, where communication channels work together to provide consistent information, enhance care coordination, and improve patient satisfaction.
While it can be tempting to chase after new technologies like chatbots, AI, and blockchain methodologies, improving digital engagement and communication between patients and healthcare provider organizations requires a focus on the basics. The legendary basketball coach John Wooden famously taught his players at the start of every season how to put their socks on, and how to tie their shoes. To the untrained observer, and to many of the new players, this seemed foolish and like a waste of time. But in reality, he was helping his players learn how to put socks on and tie shoes so as to avoid blisters and injuries. This philosophy of focusing on the basic principles permeated everything John Wooden taught his players about how to play basketball, and his unbelievable winning record and championships won are clear evidence that this approach works.
Focusing on the Basics
Many healthcare organizations come to Wixcorp for help with enhancing their digital patient engagement strategies with new services like text-to-pay and online scheduling and texting communication with patients. And while those features are exciting and wonderful, it is our focus on the basics that truly helps our partners find success with our tools.
Technology in and of itself is not a silver bullet and won’t solve all your engagement problems. The magic happens only when technology is in sync with business processes. We like to use a simple framework for focusing on the basics of improving digital patient communication:
Assess Current State: We start by evaluating the existing digital engagement and communication channels within your organization. We then identify the strengths and weaknesses, as well as any gaps in the patient experience. In this process, we create a Patient Journey Map that helps us define your current patient financial experience and accurately articulate your desired future state.
Patient-Centric Approach: Understanding the needs, preferences, and expectations of your patients is crucial, especially when it comes to how they experience your digital ecosystem. This can be done through conducting surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gather valuable insights from patients about their communication preferences and how they would like to engage with your organization digitally. This often comes in tandem with the Patient Journey Map session.
Simplify and Streamline Processes: We then ensure that digital communication processes are streamlined and user-friendly. Aspects like simplifying registration, appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and other routine tasks through intuitive interfaces and user-friendly platforms. Our platform automates most of the communication processes and simplifies the manual ones so they are intuitive and easy to manage.
Implement Secure Communication Channels: Patient privacy and data security are of utmost importance. Our software uses secure and encrypted communication channels, such as patient portals or secure messaging platforms, to facilitate confidential communication between patients and healthcare providers.
Training and Support: Throughout the process, we provide training and support to healthcare staff to ensure they are comfortable and proficient in utilizing digital communication tools, and train them on effective digital communication practices to optimize patient interactions.
By focusing on these basics, putting on the socks and shoes of digital engagement, healthcare organizations can lay a strong foundation for improving the patient’s experience outside of the hospital. This can turn a rush-hour-like digital patient experience journey into a seamlessly smooth, stress-free thrill ride on the autobahn.
If you’d like to learn more about how your organization can transform the digital patient experience, feel free to contact us at email@example.com, and we’d be happy to give you a free consultation.