The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed shed some light on the healthcare sector, especially in terms of how services are rendered. Even though remote care services have been around for a while, they have only now started gaining popularity.
These services continue to revolutionize the healthcare sector even beyond the pandemic, which is a welcome innovation. With the speed at which the world is moving, and with the changes that come with it, healthcare cannot remain the same since livelihoods depend on it. There is the need, however, for a more customer-centered approach when it comes to telehealth, that will be discussed in this article.
Why must telehealth focus on the customer experience?
There are a lot of benefits of telemedicine and telehealth in general, and there is evidence to prove it. It is cost-effective and speeds up the process of diagnosis, not to mention the convenience it brings. However, in conversations about the implementations, one of the things that are not at the top of the list is patient (or customer) satisfaction. This is surprising because when it comes to healthcare, patients need the reassurance of the results of the service they have paid for, and they need to reap all the benefits of the service and more.
What it means to create a patient-centered experience is to consider the patient’s satisfaction before other features, including how sophisticated the technology is, when evaluating the platforms. There are a few questions to answer in this regard. For example, how easy would patients find it to use the platform? Will they be eager to use it? Would the service be faster than when receiving care in person? And what is there any significant difference in the quality and outcomes of the service?
In creating a telehealth platform that answers these questions and many others for the benefits of the customer, there is an opportunity to reap certain benefits. For one, the financial incentive that comes from taking this initiative cannot be passed on. Facilities and organizations that go this route also get to gain new clients and hence more business.
5 Ways Telehealth Programs Can Focus On The Patient
The benefits of focusing TeleHealth services on the client cannot be broadcasted without also discussing how this can be done. So, here are a few effective ways to ensure that the consumer, for whom the platform was created for, gets the most out of the experience.
- Start promoting in-house
It is vital to educate patients about telehealth services and how they can help them. However, education and promotion must start in-house with the people who are likely to be providing the care. Staff, doctors, providers, volunteers, and all other individuals or groups who, in one way or the other, use the platform in providing care should have an understanding of what it is, how it works, and its usefulness.
This is an excellent way to get everyone on board with the innovation, and the new direction of healthcare delivery. It’s also another way of getting information about the service out there to patients and customers even faster. Where necessary conduct the required training for various specializations and departments to help them understand the roles they would be playing. For example, looking into best practices for call center management will go a long way to prepare whoever will be receiving calls on the best way to address and assist customers and patients.
- Provide a way to leave ratings and reviews
This suggestion applies to almost any other business venture because of the role that word of mouth plays when it comes to convincing potential customers to use a service. These days a lot of product manufacturers and service providers are giving room for people who have patronized them to leave reviews for others to see. A lot more patients also conduct a lot of research into potential healthcare providers, and reports are one way they decide whether or not one. Therefore it is clear the ratings and reviews are essential for patients, and so it may be a good idea to make room for it.
Doing this presents a lot of benefits for the Telehealth provider. For example, it allows them to use whatever feedback they get to improve on their services to enhance the customer’s experience. And if by any chance, there are a few peculiar reviews, it will be beneficial to reach out to the reviewer and have conversations about the way forward. It is also a cheap way of marketing to others and encouragement to use the platform.
- Know your target market
For now, the main reason that telehealth is gaining popularity is to reduce the number of people coming into medical facilities. This is a strategy put in place to reduce the spread of the virus as there is no cure or vaccine yet. So the target audience seems to be everybody, and there is little choice. But what happens when there is no pandemic, and it is okay to go to the hospital once again. Does this mean a decline in telehealth again? It is possible if there isn’t any consideration of who would need it and why?
So, to make sure your telehealth platform or program remains relevant, it will be wise to gather data on the audience or consumer you’re trying to reach and what their needs are. In this case, a few questions will need to be answered. First of all, how many busy clients cancel appointments, and how often do they do that? Also, what percentage of patients access your facility for neighboring towns or counties? Who are most likely to need telehealth services (millennials, working parents, etc.)?
It is after asking all these questions and answering them that it would become clear what the vision is and how to develop a platform to cater to those needs. It will become easier to understand the clients’ process when it comes to accessing healthcare and what they would need to go through it successfully.
- Be prepared for technical issues
As with any other technological products, there are bound to be some hitches here and there. So, when developing a telehealth platform, it will be a good idea to anticipate any technical problems and solve them. This is especially important for keeping the platform comfortable to use, especially for demographics that may not be too experienced with using technology. So if possible, conduct trials on the technology with various groups of people to be able to identify issues.
Make the platform as accessible and user friendly as possible right from the start so that it does not cost so much to make changes after it has launched. Other considerations, such as access to internet connections, should also be considered for people in areas that might have that trouble. This cannot be ruled out because while many people use gadgets such as mobile phones these days, internet connection is still an issue in some places.
- Communicate what you offer clearly
Once you have explained the new move to industry players, the next step will be to now get the customers on board. This includes widespread education and promotion of the technology and the specific services offered. This is important because, as mentioned, even though remote care technology is not new, it is not very popular, and quite a large number of people still do not know it exists. So, the way to make it more customer-centered will be to let the customer know what the innovation has to offer them. Describe the service, why it is excellent, and how it can benefit them and do this with as many details as possible. The education and preparation that follows will help to eliminate any fear and anxiety they may have about the service and make them more willing to try and use it.