By Michael Morgan
For years, the healthcare sector lagged behind other industries with regard to digital transformation.
File cabinets full of patient records, use of telephone and traditional fax for communications and information sharing, and paper prescriptions and referrals were long the norm. At the same time, banks, retailers, government agencies, and others increasingly relied on websites, apps, and chat and text communications to deliver a higher level of customer care.
The ease and convenience of using technology to get the information they need, comparison shop, or make purchases whenever they want has resulted in consumers demanding those same conveniences in healthcare. Despite consumer desires, change has been slow to come to the healthcare industry --until March 2020, when the coronavirus was designated as a worldwide pandemic.
COVID-19 sparks a digital transformation
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It took COVID-19 to spark an explosion of telehealth demand. Quickly these virtual services became the new norm as both providers and patients tried to minimize infection rates while not putting off regular or non-emergent care.
If providers truly want to increase patient engagement and satisfaction, however, choosing a telehealth technology provider is only the first step. Today’s providers must implement a full virtual care strategy that addresses the patient experience both in-person and outside the four walls of the practice.
Many healthcare practices had already begun to adopt digital communications solutions to improve efficiency and patient engagement. But these represent only a small fraction of the equation. And, in the cases where practices are early adopters, they may not yet have figured out how to connect the pieces to realize the true benefits of a comprehensive virtual platform that can address the entire patient journey.
As practices seek to innovate and transform their operations to catch up to the expectations of healthcare consumerism, there are a number of virtual care solutions that can improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, while helping the practice be more efficient and effective. These include video chat, secure text, broadcast messaging, patient reminders, electronic fax, electronic forms, and contactless check-in. It may seem daunting to implement a full virtual care strategy at the outset, but it needn’t be overwhelming. Most virtual care strategies start with just one solution - but you can kickstart your journey by leveraging a platform that can grow with you and considering the best practices below before you get started.