Whether you run a private cosmetic practice or manage a nationwide private healthcare provider, patient engagement will make up a vital part of your overall success. With a massive shift in digital-first care due to the pandemic, many patients now expect their healthcare providers to keep up with digital technology in order to serve customers as effectively as possible. In this article, we explore four digital-first strategies you can use as a healthcare provider to improve retention and ensure your patients are engaged.
1. Embrace multi-channel healthcare
It's now easier than ever for patients to get in touch with a private medical professional. From online video chat to remote call forwarding, digital tools that streamline conversations with doctors, nurses, and pharmacists are appreciated by many. As such, it pays to have multiple channels of contact open to patients, making it as easy as possible for them to receive advice.
A multi-channel approach (using many varied platforms and channels of communication) is always best. Ordering prescriptions, booking appointments, and even appointments themselves can all be conducted either digitally (video calls, online portals, etc.) or using more traditional means.
In as many areas as possible, medical institutions should provide a digital option. This is often people’s preferred way of doing things and can save time and money by streamlining processes and reducing the amount of staff time spent on the administration of alternatives.
Keep ease of use in mind when designing systems that patients interact with. A good interface for attending remote consultations will minimize the amount of missed appointments, for example. Likewise, a clean and simple feedback system is the easiest way to increase survey response rates.
2. Optimize data-centric health management
Modern patients and medical professionals generate a wealth of useful data. These days, collecting, storing, and using patient data effectively has become one of the primary challenges for healthcare providers looking to deliver the best patient experience.
Data-centric health management is changing the health system. When employed correctly, a data-centric approach can reduce the need for hospital visits, reduce friction in patient interactions, and lead to better informed and earlier diagnoses. On the provider side, automated collection of patient data can provide the best experience and save time on collecting the information needed to make decisions. For example, smart monitors are often cloud-enabled, so healthcare teams have automatic access to important patient data. This can be especially useful for the management of long-term diseases that require consistent monitoring, and can help medical staff to spot abnormalities before they become problems.
Innovative and useful tools for data-centric health management include wearable medical devices, such as continuous glucose monitors for diabetics, cloud management platform (CMP) options for patient data, and the use of AI to analyse patient data.
3. Use a patient portal
Patient portals are healthcare-related, online applications that allow patients to interact and communicate with their healthcare providers, including physicians and hospitals. Some patient portal applications work as stand-alone websites or apps provided to hospitals and healthcare organizations by a third party. Other portals are integrated into the existing website of a healthcare provider. A third type are those appended onto an existing electronic medical record (EMR) system.
All these services offer the patient the ability to interact with their medical information by providing a secure online hosting solution for medical data.
By making more information about their health management available, portals encourage patients to take an active interest in their healthcare, to become better informed, and to have a better understanding of the options available to them.
4. Have a digital-savvy patient engagement team
An understanding of advances in the digital tools available for healthcare can help staff to make the most of these new technologies. Employees with a working knowledge of EMRs, patient portals, the latest health tech, and the various digital innovations driving change in the healthcare sector, can be valuable assets for any patient engagement program.
It's therefore vital to ensure you're investing in your employees with training on how to engage patients through the use of digital technology. The result will be a seamless customer experience that will also boost your brand image.
As more of us get used to using web-based services, and digital devices become more integral to everyday life, healthcare too is undergoing a digital transformation. By facilitating more productive conversations between caregivers and care-receivers, healthcare professionals are in a better position to improve their practice. The sector as a whole will undoubtedly benefit.
About the Author
Sam O'Brien is the Director of Digital and Growth for EMEA at RingCentral, a Global VoIP, video conferencing, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) provider. From click-to-dial functionality to one-click video conferencing, RingCentral allows users to readily access digital tools through a single, easy-to-use platform that seamlessly works across office sites and mobile devices.