Meeting Patient Demand for Digital Access
Digital patient access can help providers engage patients at every point in their care journeys, using technologies that patients already use in their daily lives. Today, patients have heightened expectations for simple digital experiences and smartphone-native applications that provide a convenient and intuitive end-to-end digital experience.
However, healthcare still lags behind other industries in providing consumers with that convenient digital experience. Healthcare is one of the most digitally immature sectors on average, according to a recent BGC report, with correspondingly lower digital transformation success rates.
There are several reasons why this isn’t something that patients will accept in 2022. For example, digital communications such as telehealth offer patients more choice, convenience and lower costs around their healthcare needs.
Digital patient access can also reduce the need for in-person visits that can be hard, time-consuming and expensive for patients due to their recovery, commuting distance and charges from their provider. What’s more, the convenience in having a one-stop shop solidifies trust and loyalty.
That’s why more organizations are realizing the need for these kinds of centralized platforms. Providers can see the benefits of broader communication and patient outreach. The current digital communication process is fragmented, forcing patients to use too many different health platforms to access medical records, research provider information or chat with experts. To keep up with patient demands, health delivery organizations (HDOs) are starting to recognize the value of enhancing their digital capabilities.
How Data Helps Patients Engage with Healthcare
The other key element of digital patient access is the data it generates. Smartphones and tablets give HDOs better data insight into their patients. This kind of data helps providers make better, more informed decisions for their patients because all the key information is easily accessible in one place.
Most current digital healthcare communications require patients to create and manage multiple identities with varying usernames and passwords — a nightmare to manage, especially with something as important as receiving care. As patients sought secondary — and sometimes tertiary — providers due to care delays during the pandemic, the result was that their patient records are now housed in various systems across several different healthcare providers. When communication and engagement take place across multiple portals, patients won’t receive a consistent experience.
Effectively engaging patients, especially those with more complex care needs, requires a more holistic approach. Transitioning to a single patient data platform, with a central point of control, can provide better care. For example, a centralized data platform enables better engagement, data analytics, data-driven decision-making and care management as providers shift to value-based care models.
Providers who have all a patient’s health data in one place will be better positioned to provide care recommendations based on a patient’s full healthcare history — not a one-off visit. Decentralized patient records across multiple patient platforms and portals create substantial challenges in providing better care.
Investing in Digital Experiences for Patients
Ultimately, HDOs are seeing the benefits of digital patient access, and they want to better meet patient needs with a seamless, start-to-finish approach to healthcare. However, achieving this will require continued investment throughout 2022 and beyond.
To keep up with patient demand for exploring digital avenues before entering a physical clinic, healthcare will see more M&A activity and investments in technology to do so securely and efficiently. This investment must focus on technologies that centralize information and better integrate consumer-grade tools into the patient experience — all with the goal of delivering simpler remote digital experiences for both patients and providers.