Today’s patients are increasingly viewed as both patients and consumers seeking to seamlessly interact with healthcare providers through digital tools like they do in other industries. Patients have more choices when selecting providers, and they expect consumer-focused solutions and interactions. These include mobile apps, online chatting, push notifications and alerts, on-demand personalized health information and more. In response, healthcare organizations are actively developing digital front doors to extend their brand and enhance patient experience, while improving engagement with patients, families, and visitors. These platforms are intended to fill a need for a broad spectrum of resources that facilitate patient access to, and utilization of, healthcare services. What follows below is a breakdown of the features patients are looking for and the importance of integrations to bring everything together for a better experience.
What do Healthcare Consumers Want?
Patient portal usage continues to grow, with Health Information National Trends Survey reporting that among individuals offered a patient portal, more than six in ten accessed it at least once in 2020 – this represents an 11 percentage point increase from 2017. While this positive trend is encouraging, it also highlights the missed opportunities for improving and supporting patients as they digitally interact with healthcare providers.
Healthcare consumers are often looking for information, features and services that go beyond the clinical content typically contained within patient portals. This trend is driven by the online services, digital apps, and other tools that consumers have been exposed to in other industry settings such as retail shopping, financial services, travel and hospitality, entertainment, real estate, and higher education. Apple, Netflix and Amazon have set the standard for seamless, frictionless and consistent user experiences. A successful digital front door should be:
With every touchpoint a patient has with a healthcare organization, their experience should be consistent, seamless and convenient. Whether it’s a website, an in-person communication or a mobile app, all interactions should represent an organization’s brand in the same way.
Patients have a better experience when information is specific to their unique care journey. Healthcare organizations should offers solutions, care and content unique to the user and their preferences.
Comprehensive features and capabilities that deliver added value and keep patients coming back, so they stay engaged with their care and their health system.
Patients often compare their patient experience with other hyper-convenient experiences offered by other services, and many offer this experience in a convenient mobile application. Patients expect one easy and convenient place to access information about their care.
Keeping the focus on patient experience promotes better patient care and a better overall experience with a healthcare organization. One of the most effective ways to integrate digital front door tools and solutions into a seamless patient experience is through a mobile app since a majority of patients already use and access mobile apps daily for other services they use.
Mobile App Features that Stand Out
It is increasingly common to download an app for nearly anything, and many share a common set of “concierge” features and services. In healthcare, patients are starting to expect the same type of features and services when using healthcare-focused mobile apps. These can include:
- General facility information
- Provider and service directories
- Maps and navigation aids for hospital and clinic facilities
- Information on seminars, clinics and other events
- Visitor amenities such as gift shops, chapels and cafeterias, and parking information
- Community information such as lodging and restaurants in the area
- Appointment scheduling
- Clinical content & symptom checkers
- Health and wellness content
Along with patient concierge features, creating a seamless experience for families and visitors can also be an important tenet of the digital front door. The ability to get directions to the facility, find available parking, navigate the facility to find the patient’s room, order flowers and gifts for the patient, check the cafeteria menu, and find lodging and restaurants in the area are all valuable features.
Integration is Key
The goal is to support patients through their journey of care, from reviewing provider specialties and qualifications, to scheduling appointments, parking their vehicle, navigating the facility to reach the correct location, getting referred to a specialist for a procedure, reviewing patient education materials before and after the procedure, having an imaging exam, being admitted to the hospital, selecting items from the food service menu in their room, and connecting with their care team after discharge.
The challenge, however, is that information is likely coming from multiple applications and information sources. How do you offer that seamless, branded experience? The key is integration with the different information systems already in place, such as: patient portals, provider directories, scheduling systems, parking management systems, event registration systems, gift shop ecommerce systems, and food service management systems. Leveraging APIs, SDKs, and custom integrations can connect all these disparate systems into a single app that delivers content to the patient when they need it and with a consistent experience.
If your organization is looking to create a top-tiered patient experience, look for value-added features, seamless integrations, and frictionless interactions. To get you started, you could consider evaluating your current digital tools, evaluating any immediate needs in your healthcare organization, and then define what you consider a successful program. It is also important to evaluate how you wish to leverage your EHR and to select partners who have deep expertise with healthcare and EHR integration.
In response to customer requests and trends, Forward Advantage now offers a mobile patient experience platform, PXmobile with integration to other systems and applications, including EHRs such as the MEDITECH patient portal, health content databases and wayfinding apps. Our goal is to help healthcare organizations offer a seamless patient app with comprehensive and flexible patient engagement solutions that deliver maximum value to patients, visitors, and caregivers. Our new mobile app platform enables healthcare organizations to create a branded app that combines website and portal content with concierge features to provide a complete engagement solution.