Over the last two years, we have seen a tremendous shift in ideas and attitudes about digital health. COVID-19 caused many healthcare organizations to undergo digital transformations at accelerated rates to adjust to fluctuating changes in patient needs. This rapid shift created a new set of challenges for healthcare organizations across the globe. Cyber security threats have increased. Healthcare professionals have had to quickly learn how to use an entirely new set of tools. The spread of misinformation regarding the pandemic has also further contributed to patient mistrust of the healthcare industry.
Recent surveys have found that many patients want more flexibility in how they receive care and increased access to their health information. A recent Pew Research study found that eighty-one percent of adults support increased access to health information for patients and providers (1). Forty percent of patients shared that they plan to continue using telehealth services in a post-pandemic scenario (2). These findings suggest that digital tools play a critical role in enhancing communication which is essential to cultivating patient trust today. Organizations working towards building patient-centric experiences will be shifting from using telehealth as a backup plan when restrictions are in place to finding the most effective ways to digitally enable care. There are three key ways organizations can leverage digital tools to build patient trust.
1. Increasing Access to Information
Improving patient access to information is one of the top ways healthcare organizations can help build trust with patients. Digital tools can enhance patient-provider communication and help patients access information more quickly than ever before. Organizations can now use chatbots to automate processes such as test-result delivery, share educational materials, and even deliver critical information such as post-op follow-up instructions right to a patient's mobile devices. Many digital platforms also can help patients exchange documentation and provide signatures remotely.This is incredibly helpful for patients who cannot meet with their providers in person, whether they have transportation issues, mobility challenges, or are traveling.
2. Leveraging Secure Digital Platforms
Although patients want better communication and information, cyber security is still a serious concern. This is not surprising if you consider that security breaches impacted more than 22 million patients in 2021, breaking several records (3). One of the best ways organizations can help patients increase secure access to their information is to leverage secure HIPAA-compliant digital platforms. These platforms enable patients to exchange information with their providers safely. Enhancing communication with digital tools increases the speed and quality of care provided no matter where their patient is located.
Selecting a HIPAA-compliant platform is also essential to enabling speedy clinical collaboration for internal teams. Clinicians' and care teams' use of SMS texting to communicate with each other has steadily increased over the last several years because it lets teams share more quickly. Unfortunately, without a secure platform, this significantly increases potential data breaches. Leveraging a HIPAA-compliant platform can enable clinical teams to communicate promptly and effectively. Providing patients and healthcare professionals a secure way to communicate both internally and with patients is one of the best ways you can prevent potential data breaches and build patient trust.
3. Providing Flexibility and Personalized Care
The pandemic has significantly influenced consumer expectations about their healthcare. Offering more choices will become critical when building long-lasting relationships with patients. Offering a one-size-fits-all model will no longer meet patients' needs. Patients are looking for organizations that can provide more flexibility. Healthcare organizations can offer this kind of flexibility with digital platforms. There are a variety of solutions organizations can leverage today to enhance patient experiences.
Some of the most popular solutions that improve patient experiences include:
- Digital front doors
- Automated test-result delivery
- Patient-self scheduling
- Appointment reminders
- Chatbot enabled virtual-triage
It is safe to say that digital health is not only here to stay, but it will also play a critical role in helping organizations build patient-centric experiences that cultivate trust and promote patient loyalty. Leveraging digital platforms can help organizations increase patient access to information, enable secure communication, and provide patients with personalized experiences. To learn more about how organizations can leverage digital platforms to tackle some of the toughest challenges today, read How Can Healthcare Leaders Leverage Digital Tools to Improve Disaster Preparedness?
Brittanie is a passionate marketing specialist and content creator from Washington state. She has a background in both education and healthcare. Brittanie enjoys researching, crafting, and sharing stories that highlight how modern technology is transforming the healthcare industry.
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