The last year has challenged all who provide healthcare services in any specialty to our global community. The need for mental health support, addiction services, long-term care, and protection of our highest risk community, as well as COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, have stretched the limits of our devoted teams.
As many experts have predicted, the wellness culture trends and focus on the mind, body, and spirit. Holistic health is on the rise. This movement will lead to a revolution in healthcare. Asking google questions, they're embarrassed to discuss with their friends or family, researching symptoms and the complexity of asking your healthcare provider simple questions is pushing the consumer movement in healthcare.
It's moving FAST and will not back away.
There is no question that traditional healthcare has needed some reform for years. The obstacles in creating an extraordinary patient experience while not making it harder to treat patients and keeping data secure and private have led many organizations to stagnate. Overwhelm and exhaustion over deploying electronic medical records and changing how providers operate daily was enough to send IT departments and budgets into lockdown for the last decade.
With a holistic focus like the "mind, body, and spirit" movements, we must address the three pillars of exceptional healthcare. No single service provider of electronic medical records, cybersecurity, unified communications, or web-based applications can provide every healthcare organization's critical components. Many service providers are attempting to be everything to everyone; however, it has led to many settling for sub-standard packages that only do most of what they need and creating a source of frustration.
To move beyond the overwhelm, we've broken our Healthcare specific applications and services into three pillars of holistic Healthcare technology.
Pillar #1 – Compliance and Security
Whether you're seeing patients in a traditional in-office setting or using a hybrid approach with a telemedicine application, compliance with HIPAA, PCI, and new data privacy laws is your responsibility to get right. Often the lack of attention to these compliance and security initiatives will creates a "pay now" or "pay later" scenario. We recommend starting with this as the foundation of your practice as it is an operating expense of doing business today, much like your electric bill or internet services.
As with so many other technology-as-a-service offerings, HIPAA compliance is not out of your reach and may not require the hefty price tag that hiring a Security Officer brings to your organization.
Similarly, the field of service providers able to bring enterprise-level, best-in-class cybersecurity protection within budget has expanded dramatically over the last five years. Most of these organizations no longer require colossal forklift upgrades of your architecture and can offer advanced access and security for all of your users, regardless of where they are connecting. In the network security space, we see an industrial revolution fueled by the need for secure and seamless protection for all devices with access to critical systems or data.
Pillar one is the foundation of growth with a consumer base that cares deeply about privacy, security, and healthcare providers' reputation as choices emerges on the market.
Pillar #2 – The Patient Experience
The events surrounding COVID-19 taught patients that telemedicine, medical concierge apps, and pharmaceutical delivery could work to receive care. Even during a pandemic and within the constraints of our existing healthcare system.
At the very core of this consumerism evolution and awareness in Healthcare is CHOICE. Many in the industry leaped into action, providing alternatives for care delivery. Many stood still, waiting for the storm to pass.
Standing by to see a doctor that could quickly answer questions or discuss medication changes over a virtual visit will force patients to "date" other physicians or healthcare providers. As the world has shifted to online shopping with in-home delivery, the expectation that consumers can consume healthcare similarly is set. Loyalty to primary care physicians is waning in the interest of convenience. Regulatory restrictions applicable to telemedicine visits have shifted (hopefully permanently), and healthcare providers will need to adopt a patient-first consumer model to compete.
These circumstances lead to further consolidation in the market and creating large healthcare conglomerates with the purchasing power to provide the latest tech encouraging patient engagement.
How will specialists and traditional healthcare models compete?
Focusing on what your organization does well, enhancing technology and automation while keeping the human touch in your practice, is not out of reach. Consider yourself the patient, shopping for a healthcare provider, and explore where the mundane tasks that your staff complain about can be automated. Consider offering online scheduling, online/app-based/SMS texting check-ins, online patient forms, and secure web-chat.
These seemingly small steps in your digital transformation journey add up to big success in the patient experience. Finding the right providers for each of these solutions to enhance how easy it is to do business with your organization can be daunting. Please don't let that stop you.
Pillar #3 – The Provider Experience
Despite the numbering convention, this is the most important of the pillars. If the clinicians, docs, nurses, billing folks, and front-end staff are struggling, the other pillars crumble. A frustrated team often won't take the extra time to validate if the link sent in an email has a malicious web address or not. They're not vested in protecting the people they work with or the patients coming into their office. The number one complaint from patients in google star ratings of healthcare organizations is how friendly they are. A sincere smile and kind words go along way to glossing over some of the analog obstacles of patient care.
The greatest technology out there means nothing if the folks who must use it hate it. If you're working in a healthcare organization and you despise the inconvenience of answering the phone, you won't answer it. If you must, you're likely not going to be kind to the caller. The same goes for billing platforms, scheduling modules in EMR platforms, appointment confirmation solutions, and every other technology platform that enables automation. You must find the technology that enhances your human experience because those humans protect your organization, treat the perhaps non-physical ailments of your patients, and create the type of business that your patients want to do business with.
Don't dismiss the impact of reducing the amount of time to submit a claim from 30 seconds to 10 seconds might do for your overworked staff's attitude. When your providers are frustrated because their patients are attempting to join telehealth visits from outdated intelligent devices that won't work on this new platform you've deployed, listen. Your patients are likely frustrated too.
If you're not sure what your team is saying outside of the office about your organization, ask them. A patient-focused practice means nothing if your staff is angry about the inconvenience of new technology.
Take the time to test new solutions. Snag a Healthcare specialized consultant to help. Customer service has been placed on the tiny back burner in healthcare for too long because patients didn't have a choice. Now they do.
Our evolution of consumerism in healthcare is here to stay.
To learn more about the pillars of healthcare, attend Blush Technology Group's Webinar on Compliance and the Consumerism of Healthcare in the Post COVID-19 Landscape.