The U.S. News & World Report webinar, “Designing a Digital Patient Experience for the On-Demand Customer,” was presented on April 27. The webinar featured a panel of healthcare experts, including Josh Weiner, CEO of SR Health; Dr. Thomas Maddox of BJC HealthCare; Katie Scott of My UPMC; and Sara Vaezy of Providence. Click here to watch the webinar in its entirety.
The following are some of the key takeaways and best practices discussed by the panelists:
- Weiner said one of the highest priorities for SR Health during the pandemic was to help its customers leverage digital interaction tools like automated appointment reminders, telehealth, digital intake, and “park & text” pre-visit instructions as in-person visits shifted to virtual care. Through it all, texting was the patient engagement medium that helped providers to connect the best with their patients.
- Scott and Vaezy said an important principle learned during COVID was being able to quickly pivot and learn on the fly to determine which digital interactions and modalities were working based on the data collected. Digital workflows suddenly became part of the new fabric of how healthcare providers helped patients navigate the experience. Vaezy said her organization saw telehealth use increase 30-fold and her team worked on ways to make the healthcare journey more patient-centric.
- Maddox said one of the obvious challenges is that providers and patients often don’t speak the same language. To truly connect with patients at their level, practices need to be asking them the right questions. Instead of what do you want, providers should be asking what are you concerned about. A more personal touch and truly getting to the bottom of patients’ fears and concerns during COVID was instrumental to truly connecting with them, whether during virtual or in-person visits.
- Weiner said in order for providers to deliver a successful digital patient experience they need to be in synch with each patient’s individual communication preferences. Text messaging has become a proven way to interact with patients based on their preference data. Similarly, patients have gravitated toward telehealth as on-demand service due to its ease of use and convenience. Texting is the common denominator when it comes to strong patient engagement.
- Scott said another takeaway was that they were able to help guide and direct patients to the appointment format that made the most sense for their specific care needs and appointment type. Some chronic care visits were better suited and easier for the patient to be done through virtual health, while other high acuity and urgent care required an in-person visit. The blended approach helped them better serve patients during the pandemic while also assisting providers to maximize the use of their resources.
- Vaezy said it was key for them to personalize care based on patient preferences and needs while automating as much of the patient engagement process as possible to create efficiencies and reach large numbers of patients. It was also a way for them to continually respond to ever-changing conditions and variables during the pandemic.
- Maddox said in order to better serve patients, providers will need rethink and invest in processes, strategies, and resources that can deliver the increased personalization that patients are demanding in care. Currently, that burden falls upon clinicians who don’t have the tools or bandwidth to offer it. Patient and feedback will help providers know if these new measures are on the right track.
- Vaezy said another lesson her organization learned was that patients are also consumers and demand the same type of digital services and conveniences in their healthcare. One approach that worked well for her organization in being more responsive to patients’ needs was to interact at a variety of touch points whether they were in-person, virtual, or through automated communication, particularly for at-risk patients and those without a primary care physician.
To learn more about how text messaging and a single patient engagement workflow can help patients have an improved digital patient experience for both virtual and in-person visits, check out the guide, “The Perfect Appointment Workflow.”