Are you giving patients the clinical experience they expect?
Emerging technologies, cloud-based solutions and the uptake of mobile engagement, is opening up new communication and information channels, and is rapidly re-shaping patients’ expectations from their primary healthcare providers.
MedicalDirector’s latest Patient Engagement Survey 2018, conducted in partnership with online appointment and eHealth platform, HotDoc, shows patients are now increasingly demanding technologies that give them more choice and control over their engagement with their doctors.
Surveying over 2,000 patients across Australia, the research makes it clear that the majority of patients want technology to play a far more pivotal role in the way their GPs engage with them before, during and after consultations. In fact, a resounding 70% of respondents agree that GPs could use digital tools, mobile technology and the Internet to improve patient experience.
Patients want doctors to use more tech
More specifically, the research found patients are looking for technologies that can help them better manage their appointments, communicate with their GPs and easily access test results and diagnoses. Over half of the respondents agree that online bookings, text reminders for upcoming appointments and receiving test results/diagnoses via text, email or phone are all extremely important.
The research also shows that most patients are keen to receive test results via text message. 80% of respondents said they are ready to receive blood tests and radiology results on mobile devices, if done in a secure environment.
Making patient experience personalised
Both healthcare and software experts agree this presents both opportunities and challenges for the healthcare industry to find ways to adapt and meet the fast-evolving expectations and needs of today’s digitally-empowered patients.
According to Dr Charlotte Middleton, GP and Chief Medical Advisor at MedicalDirector, it’s all about personalising and helping the patient’s journey, where they can make their own appointments easily and get reminders before they even walk in the door.
“We have an online booking system at our practice, and we regularly get compliments from patients who recognise its value in improving their experience, especially if the receptionist is very busy and the patient can’t get through via telephone,” Dr Middleton said. “It removes any frustration before they even walk in the door, and saves time for everyone.
“I think text reminders are also key in reducing “no show” rates in practices. Patients often forget or get the time wrong. They would definitely benefit from text reminders, and so would my practice.”
HotDoc CEO and Founder, Dr Ben Hurst, agrees, stressing GPs should consider their patient interactions more longitudinally, and realise that traditional ways of interaction such as phone calls or letters, may no longer be relevant in today’s highly digitised environment.
“Once upon a time, doctors had to write letters to patients if they wanted to make contact; the appointment-based model of healthcare was literally the most efficient,” Dr Hurst said. “But these days, SMS and digital technology allows for more frequent and engaging interactions with patients. This started with SMS reminders, but has since progressed to secure recalls and results notifications and educational material. Doctors are clearly underusing these tools, which could engage their patients more effectively and positively impact health outcomes.”