What Healthcare Consumerism Means for Your Practice

The power of consumerism is upending healthcare. Patients now have more choices in how they receive care, changing the traditional doctor-patient relationship on my many levels. For example, while patients still seek to cultivate relationships with their physicians, they’re also increasingly driven by cost, convenience and digital connections.

Considering the rising tide of healthcare consumerism and the fact that 81% of consumers are unsatisfied with their healthcare experience, the need for greater patient engagement is more important than ever. To deliver better health outcomes and lower costs while also meeting patients’ changing needs, physicians should consider the following strategies.

Streamline Non-Clinical Work to Prove Value Up Front

Although the relationship between physicians and patients might be more intimate than that of other service businesses, patients are still customers. And as they would with any other provider, customers often seek the most convenient service at the best value.

Yet many healthcare providers don’t fully consider the patient’s entire experience. Whether via the phone, a website or a mobile app, patient engagement is a process requiring many touchpoints. From the time patients make their initial appointment to final billing and follow-ups, the entire experience should be thoughtful and intentional. Thus, to improve the patient experience, start by making sure appointments can be easily booked online. Once a patient arrives, they should not be made to wait too long, asked to fill out information they have already provided, or charged incorrectly.

If the check-in-and-out process is not quick and painless, patients might start looking for more convenient, customer-friendly options.

Foster Loyalty By Meeting Patients Where They Are – On Mobile Phones

More than 95% of Americans own a cell phone, and 90% of text messages are read within three minutes, making text the quickest way to reach a majority of patients. Additionally, it’s said that patients prefer the flexibility that texting offers vs. traditional communication methods. Better yet, texting is cost-effective for practices to implement and helps cut down the time spent on manual phone calls.

Using HIPAA-compliant secure text, for example, healthcare providers can efficiently send patients reminders about upcoming appointments, collect photos of insurance cards, receive payments and more. This also enables staff to be more available for quick questions about administrative updates and patient care plans.

Through mobile services, practices can also make access to records and provider communications more accessible, meaning patients are more likely to be engaged in their care plans.  

Implement Telehealth Services for Increased Health Outcomes

Telehealth has emerged in the last few years as a novel way to reach underserved rural patients, as well as for practices to triage patients and reduce unnecessary office visits. Now, some doctors are even using live video chat applications in lieu of traditional phone calls because of its personal touch, ability to observe a patient’s condition remotely and new technology that supports ease of use.

In many ways, live video can improve the patient experience by giving patients another channel to connect with their healthcare providers for quick check-ins, lowering their costs from unnecessary office visits and offering an additional touchpoint for doctors and staff to solidify a better overall experience.

To execute telehealth effectively, practices should think strategically about how their telehealth solution will integrate with their workflows, as well as seek out options that are easy to use and don’t require patients to download a new app.

It’s clear that in order to engage today’s healthcare consumer, practices need new technologies that make it relatively easy to offer personalized patient engagement across multiple channels. Learn more about Updox’s technology, which is designed to connect and build relationships that help businesses grow with more satisfied customers.

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