Telehealth and telemedicine are not new, but prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, their implementation and use were not widespread. As the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus swept the globe and forced healthcare clinics to close, the use of telemedicine skyrocketed. While most clinics, providers, and patients have adjusted to this new way of providing care, there is a new challenge: making sure technology complements and enhances care without losing the human touch.
There is a growing consensus that this rapid shift toward telehealth and telemedicine will become a mainstream part of healthcare delivery moving forward. These technologies should help providers build trust, increase efficiency, and improve patient outcomes along with the profitability of their practice, but there are important steps you must take to ensure this happens.
The Wow Factor
Wowing your patients requires more than just great software, reports, analytics, and workflows. Creating a true “wow factor” for patients means using technology in ways that help humans be more productive and provide better service and care. Unfortunately, this is the part that is often lost in technology adoption—we put a lot of focus on software evaluation, implementation, and training, and not enough on maximizing the human aspect to achieve even more benefits.
Putting Patients First
Getting the maximum impact from healthcare technologies starts with putting yourself in the patient’s shoes. Even technologies that patients won’t use can impact their care. For example, a patient won’t login to your practice management software, but having intuitive programs that check insurance eligibility in advance and confirm patient appointments with text and email reminders can help patients avoid the frustration of missed appointments or insurance claim denials.
This patient-first walkthrough can also help you find gaps where the system works for providers and staff but confuses and frustrates patients. Take a patient journey through your telemedicine and telehealth programs, and if necessary, have someone who’s not part of your practice (and not tech-savvy) try it too. Take notes about their experiences with:
- Online scheduling
- Confirmation messages
- Appointment reminders
- Consent forms
- Instructions to use the telemedicine portal
- Visit and post-visit
- Mobile app
To truly determine how well your technology is working, you need to ask patients directly. Solicit feedback early and often through surveys and social media reviews (on sites like Google or Healthgrades) and use the information to improve care delivery. Don’t take criticism personally; instead, use it to make the process better for future patients.
Staff and Provider Perspectives
While patient experiences are important, the ability for staff and providers to use technology is also essential. Programs should be intuitive, improving efficiency and not making workflows more cumbersome or difficult. Rather than dismiss criticism or concerns from staff, use feedback to hone your system. Try to avoid falling into inefficiency traps like:
- Workarounds that allow people to avoid using the new technology or create inefficiencies
- Manual processes that fill in technology gaps but take too much time and effort
- Heuristics or shortcuts that allow people to settle for “good enough” solutions instead of creating optimal ones
Staying Ahead of Your Competitors
A human-focused approach to telehealth and telemedicine puts you at the forefront of the inevitable arc toward more technology in healthcare. Download our eBook for a deep dive into best practices that create a wow factor and help you ride the wave of technology opportunity into patients’ hearts and minds.