While two out of three consumers say they feel financially strapped, 80% still plan to maintain or increase their spending on health and fitness in the coming year, according to an Accenture study. But, while healthcare is considered an essential expense, health systems still need to guarantee a seamless, convenient experience — including digital — to capture those dollars in a competitive market. Key to this effort: removing uncertainty from the user experience.
Uncertainty It can come from many directions in the patient journey, from questions about care costs, frustrations about wait times, confusion around Covid-19 protocols and treatment regimens. It is an area where digital solutions can reduce the guesswork associated with the patient experience and increase transparency in matters such as scheduling and costs by empowering patients to access medical information.
But it takes more than an “app” to deliver the experiences consumers want, especially in an environment where convenience is a competitive differentiator. Here are three ways to eliminate uncertainty for patients at key points in their journey.
- Create a hands-on experience for patients. The best solutions across industries not only maximize convenience for customers, but also take the guesswork out of the customer experience. They help consumers navigate every step of the journey, anticipate their needs and respond in real time. In healthcare, a technology such as a mobile platform can provide the greatest value in the presence of patients, full of unknowns and making that experience less intimidating and stressful. It can guide patients from home to hospital to treatment, even saving their parking space and advising where to register. After discharge, it can be used as a resource to obtain discharge instructions, check lab results, or ask follow-up questions.
- Take the guesswork out of paying for health care. Consumers can plan to prioritize health care spending in the coming year, but they’re still hesitant to pursue care from a provider when they’re not sure how it will hit their pocketbook. A recent survey found that 44% of respondents avoided seeking care because of uncertainty surrounding care costs, up from 25% a year ago. Part of the reason is that leading health systems allow consumers to pay their health care bills through a mobile app, and also allow consumers to receive estimates of out-of-pocket costs through price calculators or connecting individuals. Appropriate support. Convenience and key to success: Create a single mobile offering that includes all the digital functions you want to provide, rather than separate apps for billing, scheduling, and other functions. This prevents situations where multiple apps compete for users’ attention. It also facilitates a smoother, more satisfying digital experience.
- Make it easy for people to find a doctor and make an appointment. One of the biggest pain points in the patient experience is when people can’t find a doctor who meets their needs – from a primary care physician to an ear, nose and throat specialist, cardiologist or OBGYN – or can’t get an appointment. appointment, due to unavailability or extraordinary circumstances. For example, 67% of consumers say they want to be able to schedule or reschedule an appointment online, but only 37% of providers offer this ability, the KLAS analysis found. There are some reasons why 40% of these people are willing to make an appointment. 47% will pay a higher price to see their preferred care provider. The best approach allows consumers to search for providers online, across specialties, and book appointments directly from a mobile app. The health system also shares wait times for urgent care facilities and emergency rooms, giving patients the information they need to make timely care decisions — when the time matters.
A more modern approach to patient engagement
It’s clear that patients want digital tools from healthcare providers, but investing in a single-feature mobile app alone doesn’t provide the value they need. Instead, patients want digital apps with practical capabilities like online scheduling, prescription refill requests, and two-way communication with healthcare providers. By focusing on ways to eliminate uncertainty in the patient journey, health systems can better develop digital solutions that enhance convenience, take guesswork out of the patient experience, and give patients the tools they need to access care and stay healthy.
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