It’s widely accepted that boosting patient engagement is crucial for enhancing healthcare outcomes and promoting patient-centered care. And doing so is intrinsically tied to understanding patient needs and, ultimately, meeting them.
But a whirlwind comprising a global pandemic, rising costs, and continued barriers to care have left a lot of room for improvement. As healthcare leaders continue to face existential challenges on multiple fronts, many logically turn to technology to help better engage patients without further straining their workforces.
With a wide array of digital options on the table, choosing the best healthtech to accomplish this is anything but straightforward. That’s why decision-makers need to consider several important factors when choosing a digital healthcare platform to better engage patients.
1. Think beyond patient portals
Health systems everywhere have adopted portals in hopes of providing individuals with accessible medical records, appointment management functions, and tools for communicating with doctors. Over 90% of hospitals allow patients to view or download their medical records.
But whether people actually leverage these portals is questionable. Some studies show many don’t use them at all. That’s not to say patients don’t appreciate the features that portals often promise. For instance, a recent survey found most patients who take advantage of portals value having more streamlined access to test results. But with usernames and passwords to remember, separate applications to manage, and frequent phone updates that could cause barriers, these siloed tools can be inconvenient to use.
Consider care management technology that proactively reaches out to patients, follows up after hospital visits, and even collects information for physicians to review without requiring patients to download an app or log in. Platforms that provide convenient experiences and are both high-tech and high-touch are essential for satisfying evolving expectations of providers while making it as easy as possible for patients to manage their care.
2. Consider whether your digital healthcare tools include every patient
Another key reason some patients don’t use their hospital’s portal is because they don’t have internet access. According to one assessment, this is why providers in rural areas tend to see lower portal use rates.
Health inequity affects everyone, deepening existing disparities, hindering efforts to contain infectious diseases, and resulting in a less sustainable healthcare system. Supporting better patient engagement means putting strategies in place to improve every patient’s experience — not just some individuals who can afford or access broadband. And at the core of accomplishing this is understanding how current applications can include or exclude users.
Innovative digital health platforms — like Memora Health — use SMS text messaging as a means of reaching every patient. Whether someone uses a flip phone or a smartphone, texting is a native feature most patients are comfortable with. Select a healthtech vendor that prioritizes patient accessibility — from conceptualization to development to implementation.
3. Select healthtech that personalizes care for patients
No matter the industry, consumers increasingly crave personalized experiences. Healthcare is no exception to this trend. But much of digital health still follows a one-size-fits-all model.
There are obvious problems with offering the same exact solution to every patient. Individuals with chronic conditions have very distinct needs from post-pregnancy patients healing at home. Some at-risk groups might face barriers to attending appointments that others don’t. And people from all backgrounds will likely have distinct questions for providers depending on their needs and experiences during care.
Look for technology that fosters personalized interactions and tailored content to meet individual patient needs. These features can enhance engagement by providing relevant, condition-specific information, asking probing questions to get people the help they need, and leveraging natural language processing (NLP) to properly interpret and collect patient information on a person-by-person basis.
4. Opt for intelligent care enablement platforms over basic appointment reminders
There’s no doubt that modern patients want more digital-first care experiences. Having interacted for some time with convenient digital interfaces when banking and traveling, people increasingly expect healthcare providers to follow suit and provide similar utilities.
But setting up automated reminders and bill payment options are only some aspects of digitizing care. At the end of the day, healthcare simply isn’t retail. It involves levels of personal vulnerability and stress unseen in most industries. And care experiences can range from routine to life-altering.
That’s why it’s important for healthcare leaders to look to more forward-thinking technologies that proactively help patients manage care. Choose intelligent care enablement platforms that take digital health to a new level, offering patients guidance on symptoms, checking in after procedures, and answering important questions for patients related to their care needs — all while still covering the basics of ensuring patients will show up prepared for their scheduled appointments.
5. Vet your digital health vendor before investing
Although it has slowed slightly, the healthtech sector has witnessed monumental growth over the past few years. With this boom, the healthcare industry has been inundated with new, exciting digital solutions. But how much value do they bring to the table — especially as resources tighten?
As many health systems face financial hurdles, the stakes for getting the right digital health tool are higher. Return on investment is always on the minds of health system leaders. But adopting a new technology that isn’t field-tested or inadvertently causes frustration for patients could hurt efforts to satisfy them and cultivate loyalty.
It’s one thing to say a digital healthcare platform helps boost patient engagement. It’s another to come to the table with results. So make sure to ask your healthtech vendor plenty of questions about patient opt-in rates, satisfaction reviews, testimonials, and use cases. Not only does this give you a clearer picture of how the new technology might benefit your patients, but it also signals your possible digital health partner is measuring its own platform’s ability to help improve patient engagement.
6. Make sure your healthtech helps care teams, too
When thinking about patient engagement, healthcare leaders often immediately think of the most logical end: the patient. But a large part of engaging patients happens during interactions with clinicians. So, naturally, organizations also need to consider how a digital health tool will affect care teams.
One key aspect to look out for is administrative burden. Discuss the exact requirements a technology investment might add to your physicians’ work days with both your technology vendor and care teams. Discuss adopting a comprehensive intelligent care enablement platform that supports simpler and more efficient care delivery for patients and their clinicians with your organization’s decision-makers.
Also, consider whether the digital health technology can integrate with existing applications, such as electronic health records (EHRs) or other relevant care management systems. Seamless integration enhances data exchange, reduces duplication, and improves overall efficiency. And, ultimately, improving your workforce experience will help elevate the patient experience.
Cultivating patient engagement takes time. No one solution can completely do the job. But intelligent care enablement technology that proactively helps patients, personalizes their care experiences, and reaches them where they are can accomplish a lot of what’s needed to achieve better results.
Find out more about leveraging digital health to deliver a best-in-class patient experience.