Increasingly, healthcare organizations are having to take cues from non-traditional care sources in order to stay one step ahead of the competition. Patient demand for greater convenience and the entry of more diverse competition catering to those needs is challenging primary care physicians to innovate and improve.
Pharmacies chains and even some retailers with far greater resources are offering user-friendly clinics and services. For example, CVS Pharmacy has more than 1,000 MinuteClinics for basic care and will be introducing 1,500 HealthHUBs by 2021 that will offer chronic disease management and blood draws.
At the same time, tech giants like Amazon are piloting clinics to provide care for thousands of its employees, and Walmart is looking to strengthen ties with healthcare clinics in or near its stores, according to the Medical Economics report.
Healthcare experts say that primary care providers must follow suit and adapt to these consumer-driver behaviors in an ever-more competitive market if they are to survive.
“(Or) the day a competitor moves into town with a higher level of care access and communication, they’ll be out of business,” said Susanne Madden, president and CEO of The Verden Group, a healthcare consulting firm. “They need to take the time to up their game.”
Some of the amenities and services patient-consumers now expect include greater appointment availability during evenings and weekends, updated modern waiting rooms, and more transparent pricing. However, a large portion of the conveniences patients want can reasonably be adopted through an automated patient communications platform. They include things like automated text reminders for appointments, digital intake forms, and the ability to text message their provider.
According to a recent Accenture digital health consumer survey, 70 percent of patients are more likely to choose a doctor that sends reminders for preventative and follow-up care through text message or email.
The following are some of the digital patient communication services that today’s patients expect from their healthcare practice:
- Quick response to questions: Instead of tying up staff with numerous time-consuming patient phone calls, real-time, two-way texting enables a provider to respond to questions texted from a patient within seconds rather than minutes. Two-way texting allows a patient to efficiently get the answers they need without long hold times they may experience on a phone call.
- Minimized wait times: Providers can help patients avoid long appointment waiting times by using a system that texts patients current wait times. That way, patients can adjust their arrival times based on the provider’s real-time schedule. With COVID-19 safety in mind, providers can also send park and wait text instructions to update a patient on when they should enter the practice from a parking lot waiting room.
- Streamlined paperwork: In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one wants to touch a clipboard or in-office tablet. Digital intake gives a provider the ability to text or email patient intake forms in advance of their appointment so that they can fill out the forms electronically at their own convenience prior to the appointment.
- Appointment reminders: Patients want to be reminded in advance of their appointments but they don’t want it in the form of an intrusive phone call or voicemail. Automated text reminders at a cadence of three weeks, three days, and three hours before an appointment help patients remember and confirm their appointments. For the healthcare organization, automated reminders significantly increase confirmations while reducing late cancellations and no-shows.
To maintain a competitive edge against growing competition, healthcare providers must innovate and adopt services and amenities such as digital patient communications that will keep patients coming back to them for care.
To learn more about how patients want to communicate with their healthcare providers in a post-COVID-19 world, download the guide, Patient Communication Preferences: The COVID-19 Impact.