The pandemic has forced healthcare facilities to change many of their traditional processes. And while that transformation proved to be a challenge, the right tools have helped health systems across the country meet the demands of this unusual year.
In this episode of the Becker’s Healthcare Podcast Series, MacKenzie Bean (managing editor with Becker’s Hospital Review) and Craig Daly (General Manager for Healthcare with Podium) discuss marketing and patient experience strategies for the modern consumer.
Read on to learn the five takeaways from their discussion:
1. Health systems need effective patient communication channels.
When “normal” procedures changed, many health systems scrambled to update their websites, send emails, and call patients to inform them of the new practices relating to symptom checking, waiting room etiquette, and check-ins. Many were overwhelmed by the overnight change; some clinics reported not having enough telephone lines to keep up with the volume of daily calls. What companies need and what patients want during this time is secure, convenient ways of communicating to receive timely information.
2. Patients are ready for more telehealth and communication options.
With the exception of some rural areas, most patients are eager to access telehealth tools and digital communication where they can receive medical care from the comfort of their own home. Telehealth visits often function through a mobile app that customers can navigate with a bit of practice. Texting, however, is the norm and a capability that patients are expecting their healthcare providers to offer. Texting could enable health providers to communicate information such as appointment reminders, feedback requests, or a notice that staff is running behind and a patient could come in 15 minutes later.
3. Offer mobile payment options via text.
Collecting and paying medical bills is a nightmare; communication bounces between providers, insurance, and patients, and letters come in the mail with confusing information about how much was charged versus how much a patient owes. This outdated system is something consumers have left behind in most other industries, yet still face in healthcare. Offering mobile payments can help reduce friction and increase patient satisfaction.
4. Meet patients’ digital expectations with HIPAA compliant tools.
The patient demand is for simplicity and convenience. The HIPAA demand is for strict regulation of Protected Health Information (PHI) in transit. How can you meet both expectations? For patient communication centered around PHI, the answer is through mobile web-based browser sessions. Whether you’re communicating through an app or an online patient portal, you need to have control of what happens to patient data—and texting (about PHI, not necessarily for scheduling, feedback, or payments) does not meet HIPAA standards of security. Add in a few authentication steps and have patients opt-in to whatever form of messaging you use, and you can communicate with patients in a convenient and secure way.
5. Think of preventative healthcare.
Healthcare is historically reactive; patients visit healthcare organizations when they’re sick or experience an ailment. But as the industry makes more of a digital transition, it’s possible that the tools patients already use could become more integrated into their future healthcare experiences. Apple Watches, Fitbits, and other wearable health trackers could provide intelligent recommendations (based on data) not just for patients themselves but for their health providers interested in preventative healthcare. In the same way that Amazon Alexa makes life a little bit easier, or Google Maps uses data to estimate the time of your work commute, fitness trackers could contribute to more informed interactions for doctors and patients.
Tune in to the discussion and listen to the full podcast here.