How a digital-first patient communication strategy can help enhance the patient experience
In today’s customer-centric world, ‘patient experience’ is becoming synonymous with ‘customer experience’. People expect the same personalized, seamless journey, whether they are online shopping, doing their banking or seeing a doctor. Unfortunately, they don’t always get it.
One essential facet of patient experience in healthcare is digital communication. As the world moves online, more than 70% of patients today prefer digital communications, and more than half expect digital capabilities from their healthcare providers. These patients, having been exposed to great customer experience in other sectors, expect the same level of timely, relevant communication from their healthcare provider.
Prior to the onset of the current pandemic, healthcare was lagging in terms of digital transformation, but COVID-19 has forced healthcare providers to accelerate telehealth services and digital communication. The quality and timeliness of digital healthcare communication, however, has not kept pace. Healthcare providers need to move fast to close this gap and keep patients loyal, informed, and engaged.
The Previous State of Healthcare Communication
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare communication lagged other industries. This situation resulted from several factors, including the complexity of patient communications, and concerns over regulatory compliance.
Healthcare organizations are, by necessity, very focused on patient confidentiality regulations like HIPAA. Although solutions existed that would meet their complex regulatory needs, healthcare leaders didn’t yet understand the benefits of going digital.
The Pandemic Drives Digital Transformation, Overnight
The necessity of using digital channels during the pandemic has given rise to sharp increases in the number of first-time users, forcing organizations across many industries to adapt almost overnight. McKinsey indicates that within approximately 8 weeks, consumer adoption of digital channels vaulted 5 years ahead.
From a healthcare perspective, it is also important to note that this shift didn’t just include young, digitally savvy patients. COVID-19 also propelled the ‘silver tsunami’ online. Older generations abruptly had to learn how to use digital channels to communicate with their families and to get critical services such as healthcare.
Now that they’ve had a taste of digital convenience and security, patients aren’t likely to return to conventional channels. This online shift presents both a challenge and an opportunity for healthcare organizations, which find themselves having to adapt their patient experience strategy on a compressed timeline.
The Challenge and the Reward of a Digital-First Patient Communication Strategy
Providers are currently challenged to revise and revamp healthcare communication in order to meet the digital expectations of patients. In a nutshell, patients need timely communications, through their channel of choice, with the comfort of knowing that their personal information is secured.
Thankfully, there is an upside to meeting patients’ digital communication needs. Digital communication can lead to happier patients, as it is faster, more convenient, and information can be made easier to understand and act on.
A happy patient is a more engaged and receptive one. A happy patient is also more likely to try out telehealth services, more likely to get their documents self-serve from the safety of their home, and more likely to put their credit card into your payment portal in a timely manner, driving down your revenue cycle time.
Going forward, it is also likely that when patients are considering whether to move providers, digital capabilities will be one of the criteria they use to assess their options. At that point, meeting digital expectations becomes a retention imperative. By acting now, healthcare providers can stay ahead of this curve.
Better Digital Communications = Happier Patients
Creating a happier patient means providing a platform that makes it faster and easier to consume important information. Patients need timely access to information; through the channels they prefer. And they love immediate access to the information they value most. Few patients would choose to get a benefits statement or test result in the mail when they can get it immediately in a digital format.
Providing this information in an easy-to-understand format, making it available on a secure online portal is a tried and tested way to improve the patient experience and build loyalty and trust. With the right technology partner, you can get your patient documents online quickly and securely and get started on building happier patient relationships as soon as possible.