Ever felt impatient or frustrated with healthcare support? Unless you’re a bot, you’ll probably agree that, all too often, the patient experience is, well, more of an impatient one we’d rather do without. Thankfully, times are a-changing. Digital transformation in the ehealth sector is no longer on life support.
The COVID-19 outbreak gave the sector a much-needed push, thrusting healthcare innovation forward by several years. While telemedicine was a novel concept in 2019, it’s now the norm.
People expect speed and convenience at the touch of a button in so many areas of their life—healthcare is no different. And so, the onus is on healthcare providers to not only offer people quality care but also easier, quicker access to information, support, and treatment.
Read on to see how providers can offer better healthcare support to keep people happy and healthy, and ultimately improve the patient experience—turning more users into loyal brand advocates.
Why eHealth technologies matter for the patient experience
We all know the pain of clock-watching in a crowded hospital or doctor’s waiting room. The frustration gnaws as you helplessly watch your day slip away, while trepidation grows as you edge closer to potentially life-changing news.
We put up with this special kind of purgatory for many years as the healthcare sector has been notoriously slow to move with the trends. Despite practically every other industry on the planet shifting focus to improving customer success best practices, the health sector has kept the faith with the ostrich-head-in-the-sand approach.
However, a BlueNovius report reflects a shift in attitudes toward eHealth technologies:
- 92% of physicians use smartphones
- 89% of physicians would recommend mobile health apps to their patients
- 59% of patients expect mobile health apps will change how they search for information on health issues
While silver linings are few and far between where the pandemic is concerned, there is hope that the rising adoption of eHealth technologies may bring an end to these long and often stressful waiting times of traditional healthcare support. By 2023, up to $106 billion of current U.S. healthcare spend will be on virtual services, like telemedicine apps such as Amwell and Lemonaid.
If people run into long wait times and slow responses, patients might avoid certain services—or neglect their health needs. In the end, this negatively impacts the patient experience and may contribute to longer queues and more expensive healthcare bills in the future.
As demand grows for better healthcare support, the providers who focus on improving the patient experience with eHealth technologies will have the edge.
So, how can they do that?
5 ways we can use eHealth technologies to improve patient experience
With eHealth services, patients can connect with healthcare providers through smartphones and computers, conveniently discussing and managing healthcare issues without the need to travel, arrange visits, or deal with long waiting times. What a time to be alive, right?
Let’s look at five ways eHealth technologies can improve the patient experience with better healthcare support:
1. Mobile apps provide convenient eHealthcare access
People want to use eHealth technologies. Research from McKinsey found that up to 60% percent of people are interested in using more virtual health solutions, such as a “digital front door.”
Today, you can often get a virtual appointment with your doctor on the same day by using an app, which is ideal for anyone with an urgent need. Healthcare apps and virtual appointments also make it easier to schedule appointments from home, so you don’t need to travel.
After all, who wants to drive through traffic or take public transport when they’re not feeling well? Give us the virtual doctor on the sofa any day.
2. Chatbots improve eHealth communications
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology paves the way for faster, smarter communications in healthcare, which is a crucial step forward in improving the patient experience.
AI chatbots enable asynchronous, text-based healthcare support, so providers can conduct multiple conversations at once and reduce the need for people to wait around on phone calls. While some may be sad to miss out on funky on-hold beats, the ability to get fast, accurate answers to healthcare will make up for the loss.
One way providers can use AI to streamline support operations is to use chatbots to conduct triage. Molly, from Sensely, is a virtual medical assistant that can receive text, images, speech, and video from patients.
(Ahem, quick side note: we think they missed out here, a virtual medical assistant should obviously be called a Nursebot, right? That’s way better, so we’re going to roll with that name instead!)
Molly will assess the symptoms, make a diagnosis, and recommend the next steps, such as booking a doctor’s appointment or directing people to practical resources for self-care. Efficient and helpful—just what’s needed from your trusty Nursebot!
3. In-app messages keep patients informed
Providers can use push notifications and SMS to keep patients updated throughout their healthcare journey.
- Appointment confirmation: Updates help build trust with patients, offering them the assurances they need to know their health is in good hands.
- Reminders: A short reminder 24 hours before the appointment can improve attendance and ensure the patient doesn’t miss out on important meetings.
- Test results: Providers should make it easy for people to get their results and also provide links to any aftercare or additional support they need.
Qless leverages these in-app messages to great effect. The app aims to “remove lines from the patient experience” by allowing people to join a virtual queue and receive automated alerts on their current position in the queue.
That way, patients can keep working, go shopping, or chill at a cafe watching cat videos before going to the appointment at the right time (rather than spending the day nervously chewing their fingers to a stump in a waiting room).
4. Wearable technologies allow for remote monitoring
A remote doctor might sound like something from a sci-fi movie (or horror movie if you’re booked in for brain surgery), but that’s where we’re heading now. Advances in IoT technology help providers manage their patient’s healthcare needs from afar now through the use of wearable healthtech.
From Fitbit fitness trackers to electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors, medical teams now have the tools to keep tabs on patient vitals without the need for frequent in-person visits.
Continuous glucose monitors (CGM) like Dexcom’s G6 CGM enable people to view glucose data on a smartwatch. This technology not only reduces the for in-person checkups at the doctors, but it also gives patients more control over how to manage their conditions.
And after all, it is that sense of control that we all crave most when it comes to healthcare. For there are few things scarier than thinking your life is at stake, and you haven’t got a say in the matter.
5. Knowledge bases empower providers and eHealth patients
We all know healthcare professionals are busy—especially since the outbreak of the pandemic. Often, doctors and medical staff are forced to make quick decisions based on their personal knowledge, as there isn’t always time to consult others who might have more specialist knowledge on symptoms or scenarios.
With a focus on knowledge management, health institutions could record, organize, and share healthcare knowledge and expertise from all medical professionals in a single hospital. This system would make it easier for providers to leverage the experience of other doctors.
How do we take this knowledge base next level? Open it up to patients, too. A big part of making healthcare more accessible and more efficient for patients is to provide open access to information so that people can take charge of their healthcare needs. Not only that, but this transparency will help providers win the trust of patients and give them a more active role in their own healthcare.
In 2015, the CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation, Tejal Gandhi, uttered a prophecy about the future of eHealth technologies she saw coming:
“We’re moving to a world where everything will be very electronic and openly transparent between physicians and patients, and there probably will be all kinds of new cool tools and apps to help people have better ways to interact so you don’t need to come into the office necessarily to get done what needs to get done.”
Gandhi might not have gone full Nostradamus (thankfully), but her positive vision of a more automated, integrated patient experience is now a reality that is reshaping the landscape of the health sector. And that’s good news for everyone, from healthcare providers and eHealth companies to patients and app users.
Patients are more willing to engage with eHealth technologies. With a proactive approach to in-app messages, data-driven wearables, and knowledge bases, providers can reduce the need for people to visit, wait around, or even make contact. In doing so, we can streamline the healthcare journey, offering a memorable (dare we say it, enjoyable) patient experience.
At FROGED, we help health providers reduce support costs and ticket volume with a knowledge base widget. This tool enables you to provide helpful documents and manage customer conversations to offer personalized and self-serve support.
Are you ready to give your patient experience a shot in the arm? Get in touch with FROGED to streamline your app’s healthcare support.