A Prescription for Digital Communications in Health Care
By Jessica Turnblom
SEPTEMBER 20, 2017
Mobile phone apps allow consumers to do a multitude of activities from tracking their shipments to counting their steps to banking. With the abundance of information that can be made accessible in real-time, it is no surprise that patients are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of digital communications in healthcare. If there was an industry where information is vital, it’s healthcare.
Unfortunately, the transition to digital communications in healthcare has been slow compared to many less impactful industries. As a result, patients expectations with regards to the communications from healthcare providers and while at healthcare facilities are not being met.
The healthcare industry, like all other industries, is in the midst of a digital revolution, as patients favor and demand technologically-current options. It’s time for healthcare to step up and transform into a more digitally-enabled domain.
Real-Time Information Enhances Patient Satisfaction
Today, instant gratification can be directly linked to satisfaction. Individuals can access data about the current temperature or their bank account balance with just a few taps. Meanwhile, when it comes to information as basic as wait times, or as essential as test results, the health care industry is archaic in response.
Implementing a digital communications system indicating wait time for patients or portals that allow patients to receive, review, and share medical information digitally; while they are being implemented in some healthcare facilities, they aren’t widely adopted currently. These types of basic changes not only improve patient experience and satisfaction they also have an impact on the overall efficiency of the healthcare operation by enabling employees to move their focus from relaying information to more value add services.
Integrated Digital Communications Streamlines Processes
In other industries, accessible data transforms instant gratification into streamlining. For example, smart phone apps allow consumers to simply speak the name of a restaurant and receive instant feedback with location and directions, hours of operation, and contact information. For consumers, that means the process of getting their lunch or dinner is streamlined.
The healthcare industry can leverage smartphones and wearable devices for consumers’ well-being. Integrating data from wearable devices into medical records could allow healthcare providers to monitor and personalize patients’ activities related to health and fitness, for instance. With data that’s integrated and even monitored from afar, medicine could also grow in efficiency and effectiveness.
Leveraging Digital Communication Makes Healthcare More Convenient
Telemedicine is another exciting avenue in the digitization of healthcare communications. It was listed as a top priority by two-thirds of healthcare professionals in a 2016 Reach Health study. Cisco, in a report on The Digitization of the Healthcare Industry, explains that telemedicine improves patient experience through convenience and accessibility while enhancing provider experience by reducing demands on time, data entry, and more.
Digital communications are disrupting the healthcare industry as patients expectations continue to increase and evolve. Healthcare providers need to continually be evaluating and integrating new technologies in order to meet the evolving expectations of patients and employees. Digital communications provide an excellent way to improve the overall experience for patients and providers.