There are countless ways that modern medical technology makes patients healthier. But it can also make them a lot happier with their providers. Technological solutions can make it easier for patients to book appointments, engage with physicians, pay healthcare bills, and enjoy more proactively managed care.
Any patient contact is an opportunity to improve their experience and ensure happier patients. The Economist Intelligence Unit published a report that identified several specific areas where the impact is especially significant. Those included patient education resources and tools for healthcare self-management. The analysis also emphasized the role of healthcare practice staff on the success of care. When staff are not bogged-down in paperwork and unnecessary labor, they can shine in that important role. Every hour saved through smart technology frees nurses, staff, and physicians to personally engage with patients.
Quality of care matters to patients. Surprisingly, however, it may not be their top priority. Patients often rate convenience as priority number one. Most say they would leave their current provider if another practice offered them greater convenience. So when healthcare is inconvenient, it becomes an obstacle to quality care and patient retention. HIPAA-compliant, highly secure patient portals that require no prerequisite IT training or infrastructure offer that level of 24/7 convenience. They boast a variety of patient-centric features and tools, and every practice should take advantage of them.
A secure digital patient portal can, for instance, automate appointment scheduling tools, offer access to educational information and medical records, and streamline prescription management. Patients tend to disengage when they find it frustrating to schedule appointments and are subjected to long wait times to get answers or see a doctor. Fortunately, technological turnkey solutions help solve these front office challenges. Doctors and staff can do less paperwork with more time for patients. There is also less waiting on hold on the phone for patients to ask an overwhelmed front office person FAQ’s.
Nearly 80 percent of consumers pay their bills online, and there are technologies that can enable the same secure ease of payment within healthcare. There are payment platforms that support recurring payments too, or let patients set up their own customized repayment plans. This matters more than ever, since patients are now responsible for a much greater share of their healthcare costs. They seek solutions that help them better understand those costs and also help them pay for them in a manageable way. Give patients those tools and they’ll be more satisfied.
Digital technology also supports follow-up communication, which ensures continuity of care and cultivation of the vital doctor/patient relationship. There are telehealth patient monitoring technologies and AMA-approved mobile apps that are especially helpful. There are interactive healthy lifestyle apps that inform, encourage, and track healthy patient behaviors. Several diagnostic and reference database apps designed for doctors and nurses are also available. The Medscape app, for instance, is a digital medical reference library that includes drug ID tools and a pharmaceutical interaction checker. All that knowledge and expertise can be carried right there on a doctor’s smartphone.
When technology supports healthcare in these powerful and user-friendly ways, convenience and quality intersect for a more well-rounded and rewarding patient experience. That makes life easier for everyone.