In this era of digital technology, consumerism in healthcare means patients expect the same kind of seamless digital experience they get when dealing with other service-oriented industries.
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With airlines and travel agencies, for example, online booking of trips and accommodation can be done on the fly. Meanwhile, banking apps make paying bills and transferring of money to third-party bank accounts almost instantaneously.
It's true that many hospitals and other medical facilities have embraced the use of technology to improve their services and operations; however, overall patients seem to be not satisfied with providers' digital offerings.
While various apps and digital tools are now available to assist patients with making appointments and communicating with care teams, such tools offer mostly basic functions and fall short in providing the best customer experience, a new study by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) has found.
The report, named “The Future of the Digital Patient Experience,” is based on a survey of 136 health system professionals across the United States. Less than 30% of respondents believe that their organisation is providing a best-in-class digital experience for patients.
Based on the result, it is implied that traditional healthcare providers need to catch up with more tech-savvy competitors.
“Patients now assume they’ll have the same digital experience in healthcare that they get everywhere else in their lives, and they’re dissatisfied when we don’t deliver,” Katie Scott, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Innovation, UPMC Enterprises, pointed out.
As expected, in this age of modern technology, patients will tend to look for care at hospitals that can provide "feature-rich and seamless digital experience," Scott continued.
UPMC Enterprises is the innovation, venture capital and commercialisation arm of UPMC. The CCM, meanwhile, is a joint undertaking of UPCM, GE Healthcare and Nokia.
According to the CCM report, mobile apps, wearables, web tools, connected devices and telehealth platforms are among patient-facing digital health tools that are regarded as "a critical or high priority" at the majority of health systems.
Most digital tools currently being used at respondents’ organisations are typically found in patient portals, such as health record access, bill paying, appointment scheduling, and doctor search. However, as noted in the CCM survey study, only 40% of respondents reported that digital tools were being successfully integrated into the overall patient experience.
Among the key obstacles cited were the cost to build, buy and maintain digital tools, along with integration difficulties and operational challenges.
Interestingly, survey respondents revealed that over the next year they were planning to add check-in and arrival management tools and the ability to monitor chronic diseases.
Source: Center for Connected Medicine
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