The healthcare industry is experiencing a global shift with the emergence of digital intervention in patient care. Worldwide, healthcare providers are going digital, increasingly relying on technology to streamline operational processes, foster collaboration between healthcare professionals and deliver an improved experience to patients.
At the forefront of this revolution is the Digital Patient Experience.
The importance of the digital patient experience cannot be overstated, as it plays a pivotal role in shaping patients’ perceptions and satisfaction with their care. Hence, investment in digital solutions is reportedly an essential action for improved healthcare experience.
After all, a positive patient experience can lead to increased satisfaction, improved treatment adherence, and even better health outcomes.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into the exciting world of digital healthcare, exploring how technology is shaping how we access and manage our health. From user-friendly healthcare apps and websites to the latest trends and innovations, and the challenges that come with this digital transformation – we’ll uncover everything including the building blocks of a successful digital patient experience.
Understanding the Digital Patient Experience
Digital Patient Experience (DPE) refers to the use of digital technology for patient engagement activities that take place both inside and outside the healthcare environment. Digital patient experience enhances the journey of a patient through a healthcare organization by making the process of receiving care easier and more efficient.
Unlike traditional healthcare interactions that often involve face-to-face consultations, paperwork, and manual processes, the digital patient experience leverages technology to improve accessibility, convenience, and efficiency in healthcare delivery.
Benefits of a Positive Digital Patient Experience
The implementation of digital patient experience offers several advantages, not just for healthcare providers but also for patients. Some of the key benefits that come with a positive digital patient experience are:
Improved Patient Satisfaction
With the use of digital technology, patients have access to more personalized touch points with their care providers which leads to improved patient satisfaction and engagement. Patients can access their medical records, ask questions, view their results, and even book consultations with clinicians, all from their mobile devices. This promotes a higher level of engagement between patients and care providers leading to better health outcomes.
Enhanced Access to Healthcare Services
Digital technologies enable patients to access medical services, such as telehealth or virtual visits. This is helpful for patients who find it difficult to access healthcare services, such as aging adults or those living in rural areas.
Better Health Outcomes
Digital technologies enable effective monitoring of patient health records. This enhances diagnoses and empowers the healthcare organization to offer more personalized advice.
Improved Operational Efficiency
With digital technologies, healthcare operational processes become faster and more efficient. From patient check-ins to storage of medical records, care providers can safely manage and store data in the cloud. Automation of healthcare processes such as scheduling, reminders, and follow-ups simplify operational processes, resulting in time-saving and fewer resource requirements.
Building Blocks of a Successful Digital Patient Experience
Patients today expect the same level of convenience and personalization from their healthcare providers as they do from other industries. Therefore, healthcare organizations must understand the core elements of a digital patient experience so they can meet patients’ expectations. The building blocks of a successful digital patient experience are:
Seamless Appointment Scheduling and Access
The first step towards creating a successful digital patient experience is to ensure that patients can easily book and access appointments. Utilizing online booking platforms and implementing virtual waiting rooms and telemedicine capabilities has been shown to increase convenience for both providers and patients thus, they should be a priority.
To further enhance the appointment scheduling and access process, healthcare providers can leverage the digital experience to guide patients throughout their journey, from booking to attending their physical appointments with instantaneous reminders, and GPS and on-site navigation to easily attend their appointments.
Personalized Patient Portals
Empowering patients with access to their health records, customizable features, and patient-centric information is an integral part of digital patient experiences. Healthcare organizations should develop personalized patient portals with enhanced patient engagement capabilities.
Communication and Engagement Tools
Leveraging secure messaging and chatbots on the patient portals allows for effective. Patients can get quick responses to queries, and access interactive and educative resources. This will enable them to better understand their treatment plans and participate more in their care.
Integrating Wearable Devices and Remote Monitoring
Connecting patients’ wearables and implementing remote monitoring allow for real-time health tracking. Integrating devices such as smartwatches, and smart thermometers with patient portals will enable healthcare organizations to capture real-time patient wellness information and offer proactive healthcare interventions.
Designing User-Friendly Healthcare Apps and Websites
A fundamental part of making healthcare services better and more accessible is to ensure the digital patient experience delivers a good user experience (UX). Many factors contribute to good UX, including:
- Intuitive navigation with clear and concise instructions.
- Clear and organized information structure
- Visually appealing design
Responsive Design for Mobile Accessibility
Easy access to healthcare services on mobile platforms is now a necessity, and this is where responsive design comes into the picture. Responsive design helps healthcare platforms to adapt to different screen sizes, ensuring optimized features and usability across devices. It also entails designing healthcare platforms to be mobile-friendly, e.g., the use of large buttons for touching/tapping, optimizing image, scripts, and other resources to reduce load times.
Additionally, apps focused on monitoring and tracking health data need to provide reliable and secure data handling. This denotes the need for effective backend integration, security protocols, and testing approaches.
Incorporating User Feedback and Iterative Improvements
To create functional healthcare apps and websites, it’s essential to collect patient feedback and iteratively use it to enhance the platform based on their needs. Some strategies for incorporating user feedback for improvement include
- Conducting usability tests with real users to identify pain points, areas for improvement, and opportunities for innovation.
- Providing accessible channels for users to share their feedback, such as surveys, contact forms, and social media.
Overcoming Challenges in Digital Patient Experience
As promising and transformative as the technologies propagating patient experience, some challenges must be addressed to fully realize the potential of the digital patient experience.
For example, ensuring the privacy and security of patient data is paramount as we transition to more digital technologies. Privacy and data security concerns can be addressed by implementing robust data security systems that comply with all applicable regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Additionally, all digital solutions should be designed with explicit data and privacy settings that give patients control over their data.
Bridging the Digital Divide
Disparities in digital access and literacy can lead to unequal access to healthcare and digital services. This results in a digital divide between underserved and marginalized populations and the general population. Healthcare providers can ensure inclusivity by collaborating with local municipalities to create more affordable access to digital technologies.
Additionally, training programs that provide digital literacy and healthcare information to underserved populations can be an effective way to bridge the digital gap.
Overcoming Technological Barriers
Integrating legacy systems with new digital solutions can be a major hurdle for healthcare providers. It can also be challenging to train healthcare professionals to use new digital solutions and technologies. To overcome these barriers, healthcare providers should focus on creating strategic plans that incorporate digital transformation across multiple platforms. It’s also important to provide caregivers with adequate training and support.
By leveraging the strengths of digital technologies and existing healthcare processes, providers can effectively mitigate any technological barriers and drive greater patient experience.
Future Trends and Innovations
With revolutionary solutions reshaping how healthcare works, the digital patient experience is quickly becoming the new reality of healthcare. Digital advancements and innovations have enabled us to transform the traditional healthcare experience into something more personalized, accessible, and cost-efficient.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are beneficial for healthcare in terms of personalized and predictive patient care and diagnosis. This technology can be used to monitor patient health at scale, as well as provide personalized recommendations and support for patients based on their medical histories.
AI and ML can also be used to support treatments with evidence-based data, enabling doctors to make more informed decisions about patient diagnoses and recommendations. An example of this is the Canadian AI company Atomwise, which uses AI-supported technology to analyze medical records and predict potential targeted therapies for cancers.
Virtual and augmented realities (VR and AR) are also transforming healthcare by providing patients with immersive experiences. Phunware is pioneering geolocation-based triggers that deliver timely directions and content to users as they enter and exit the healthcare facility. With AR, this could be further be applied to wayfinding or other onsite experiences.
Furthermore, medical professionals can provide training for healthcare staff using virtual simulations to mimic real-world scenarios.
Blockchain technology, although still developing, allows for secure data exchange between providers. This enables patients to easily switch between providers without worrying about loss of data.
Blockchain facilitates data interoperability which ensures that data is accessible across different platforms and sources. This allows healthcare providers to share information across organizations thus, empowering patients to access the best healthcare regardless of their location. An example of such technology is the US-based company MedicalChain, which uses blockchain technology to securely transfer medical records between providers, resulting in better care for patients.
As we’ve explored throughout this blog post, the digital patient experience is undeniably a cornerstone of modern healthcare. It is transforming how patients access and manage their health, leading to numerous advantages and most importantly better overall health outcomes.
To create a successful digital patient experience, it’s crucial to focus on these essential elements:
- Developing user-friendly healthcare apps and websites
- Addressing challenges like privacy concerns, digital divide, and technological barriers
- Keeping up with future trends and innovations such as AI, VR, AR, and blockchain
Embracing these key components and prioritizing the patient experience will help ensure your healthcare organization remains competitive and can always meet the changing needs of patients.
If you’re new to patient experience or already have an existing patient experience system but looking to elevate how patients perceive the care they receive in your establishment, chat with us to see how you can improve the quality of service one digital interaction at a time.
We provide comprehensive digital solutions for healthcare organizations to enable them to deliver a satisfying experience for their patients.