As Patients Become Consumers, Digital Experiences Becomes Critical
Patients are becoming more and more empowered as consumers, and the modern consumer desires interactions that are private, personalized, on-demand, and interwoven into our daily lives. Picture an average day: you wake up and ask Alexa to tell you the weather, pick up your Amazon Prime package at the front door, Uber to and from work, order dinner on DoorDash, and settle in to watch a Netflix series before bed. Companies like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix have capitalized on delivering seamless digital interactions for tasks that were once cumbersome and inefficient. Now, all of these tasks, like hailing a cab or going to the store, can be accomplished with a few taps or clicks on a computer or phone – from the comfort of your own home. With industries like retail, banking, food, and airlines embracing digital experiences, healthcare should be no exception.
Provider reputation is important, and is derived from ratings and reviews.
This digital age also ushers in a wealth of information gathering. Empowered consumers arm themselves with knowledge before selecting a product, going to a restaurant, or choosing a doctor. Companies such as Google, Yelp, ZocDoc, and Healthgrades give consumers access to reviews so that they can come to an informed decision before seeking care.
In a recent NRC Market Insights study, fielding responses from over 3,000 patients, 34.7% of patients say their doctors’ online reputation is very important – a higher percentage than in any other industry. Further, 59.9% say they’ve selected a doctor based on positive reviews, and 60.8% say they’ve avoided doctors based on negative reviews.
Suddenly, consumer loyalty and experience can make or break your business – because one bad review can reach a far larger base of potential consumers, and consumers can easily choose to go elsewhere.
Consumers want convenient care.
Another side effect of digitization is the ability to access a variety of different services, even services that are not local to you. Consumers are more likely to make purchases, or seek care, from places that are convenient and time efficient, and to avoid long wait-times and clunky scheduling or payment processes. A recent survey of 1,000 healthcare consumers found that 30% of consumers who prefer to book online would actually switch providers for the ability to do so. For healthcare, this opens up the door for more options – including urgent care, walk-in clinics, and telehealth.
For example, Intermountain Healthcare recently launched a virtual hospital as part of their “digital front door strategy.” This allowed rural patients, who were formerly forgoing chemotherapy because they did not want to drive into the city, to engage with hospital plans closer to home through a virtual oncology program. They also treated over 1,000 patients virtually in the heart of flu season in January, potentially reducing the spread of the virus, as well as unnecessary urgent care and hospital visits. People prefer providers who put their patients first – and that means that both their time and their safety is prioritized.
Can the healthcare industry innovate fast enough?
The fact that the healthcare industry has been slow to adopt digital advancements does not come as a surprise to many. The 9th Annual Industry Pulse survey conducted by Change Healthcare and the HealthCare Executive Group found that one-third of healthcare executives believe that Amazon, Walmart, Google, Apple, and other non-traditional players will bring serious disruption to existing business models, largely by introducing new consumer experiences and innovating more effectively than healthcare organizations have managed to do themselves.
Providers begin embracing digital access with patient portals and applications.
Many providers are responding to the consumerization of healthcare by implementing patient portals and mobile applications. These portals and apps are designed to generate patient engagement by creating seamless care experiences where patients are able to book, re-schedule, and cancel appointments, communicate with care providers, and access their patient records and test results from their computers or phones. These digital experiences are meant to meaningfully engage patients, deliver positive and efficient patient experiences, and essentially put patients in the driver seat of their own care.
What is standing in the way of achieving these digital experiences?
The biggest roadblock to delivering these digital experiences is siloed, inaccurate, and incomplete patient data. When a patient logs in to a portal or app, they expect to see their complete medical record. If they notice that parts of their record are missing — or worse, if they see another patient’s medical information mixed with their own — they will lose faith in that health system’s ability to handle, manage, and store their personal health information. This will have a direct impact on their loyalty to that provider, and, even more importantly, their safety.
Imagine three scenarios where poor patient records directly affect patient experience and safety:
Siloed Data – Katherine Smith is trying to diagnose stomach pain and visits a primary care doctor, a gastroenterologist, and an allergist from the same health system over the course of 6 months, and they all ask for a CT scan. If her providers don’t have access to a complete 360-degree view of Katherine’s records across the health system, they might order the same test multiple times, costing the health system and Katherine money.
Inaccurate Data – Katherine Smith had a CT scan done, but her scan was mixed up with someone who has a similar name. The scan that Katherine Smith received was clear. But in reality, the scan belonging to her showed an ulcer – and being unaware, she is not seeking treatment. Do you want to be in a position where your care decisions are being made based on someone else’s test results?
Incomplete Data – These type of medical errors are much more likely to occur when providers lack a comprehensive view of the patient they are treating. There are two separate records existing for Katherine Smith within the EHR at the gastroenterologist, due to a typo that occurred during registration. One of these records is missing her allergy information and she is inadvertently prescribed a medication that she is allergic to, leading to an adverse, or even potentially fatal reaction.
A combination of accurate patient matching and better digital access could have salvaged these detrimental experiences.
Katherine could have pulled up a patient portal or application, messaged with her care providers in real time, accessed her previous test results, and shared one complete and accurate medical record with her entire care team. Having access to her own data empowers both her and her care team with a comprehensive view of the medical information that will inform decisions regarding her care. But this access relies on accurate patient matching – the ability for her records to be connected within EHRs and across data silos in a health system.
The challenge – patient matching is an extremely difficult problem.
On average, 18% of a health system’s medical records are duplicates. This means that 18% of patients will identify missing information when they log in to a portal or an app, and 18% of providers are making decisions based on missing or wrong data. Conventional matching technologies have clearly reached their breaking points, and a revolutionary patient matching solution is needed.
The solution – plug in to Verato patient matching and deliver seamless digital interactions.
Verato’s patient matching services are able to bridge the gap between siloed data and make matches that conventional patient matching solutions miss – including sparse, out of date, or different data. Our cloud-based, SaaS solutions are nimble, cost-effective, secure, and easy to integrate – and provide hyper-accurate matching.
How? We use Referential Matching, the next generation of patient matching technology.
Referential Matching is a quantum-leap better than legacy solutions. It draws on a highly curated, comprehensive, and continuously updated demographic database that spans the entire United States over a 30-year history, ensuring that Verato can connect patient data even if that data contains old addresses, maiden names, errors, typos, or is missing key attributes like birthday. By utilizing patient matching services powered by Verato Referential Matching, you can gain accurate, complete, and correct patient data, which is the foundation for all digital initiatives. And, only through accurate patient matching and digital care experiences can providers deliver the type of coordinated, personalized, and on-demand care experiences that consumers desire, and that result in safe, happy, and loyal patients.
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