By Allison Hart, vice president of marketing, West.
Americans expect customer service to be fast. Whether they’re at the bank, the airport, their doctor’s office or elsewhere, they don’t like to be kept waiting. When waits are long, consumers are disappointed – or worse. But like it or not, consumers know waiting is probable in certain situations. For example, patients have come to expect they will have to wait when visiting healthcare providers. They aren’t wrong. In the U.S., the average in-office wait time when visiting a doctor is 18 minutes and 13 seconds, according the 2018 Vitals Index report.
Despite their best efforts, healthcare providers and organizations haven’t been able to eliminate waits in healthcare offices. Doing so may not be realistic. However, healthcare teams can minimize waiting and deliver better patient experiences by being more transparent about delays and communicating proactively with patients.
A majority of Americans feel healthcare keeps them waiting more than other industries. A West survey of 1,036 adults and 317 healthcare providers in the U.S. revealed 83 percent of patients believe healthcare organizations are more likely than companies in other industries to run behind schedule or keep them waiting. Think about that. Airlines frequently run late. When they do, passengers can be delayed for hours, or even sometimes days. So, why is healthcare the industry known for making people wait? It may be partially due to how healthcare communicates, or rather doesn’t communicate, about delays. Here are two communication strategies healthcare teams can use to repair their reputation and give patients better experiences, even when they must wait.
By Mike Haynes, medical advisor and freelance writer.
Doctors answering service may seem like an outdated service, yet they are just as important today as they were years back when they had just begun. The feel of a personal caregiver anytime, cannot be easily replaced by chat-bots or virtual robotic voices. Consider the following benefits and the answer will be clear.
Round the clock attention
All have different schedules and would feel comfortable calling at different times. This service offers the flexibility that fits into the patient’s schedule. This way, the doctor is always there for them, when the patients really need.
Better patient communication
Patients may think of a question after the visit to the doctor and the answering service gives them the opportunity to have it answered quickly; for example, if they forget the dosage for a particular drug.
When a patient knows they can get some kind of attention even without an appointment, they are more satisfied with the service being offered. Patients will feel and realize they are a priority and can speak to a real person who understands their concerns and gives more than generic responses.
Digital technology is arguably the best gifts of the 20th century as it has largely influenced the way the world works. Right from business to education and health, there is no sector that has been left untouched or uninfluenced by the digital revolution. Especially when we speak of the healthcare industry, we can see the huge impact that digital revolution has left on it and took it to the next stage of evolution. There are a number of benefits offered by digital revolution to the healthcare industry that has helped both patients and healthcare professionals. Let us know some of the best benefits offered by digital revolution:
Easy communication between doctor and patient
Communication plays a vital role in a doctor-patient relationship. However, there are various factors that affect free communication including long waiting hours, concerns about disclosing personal details in front of other patients and language proficiency/expression disorders. Most importantly the present state of mind of patients of doctors (agitated, confused, angry, annoyed or absent) can ruin entire communication. Patient portals offer an excellent environment for hassle-free and instant communication between doctor and patient. The patient does not have to physically visit the doctor and wait for his turn. He can message him from comforts of his home. Besides, he does not have the hesitation in revealing any personal details of any nature as he is not in a public place. He does not have to go through the hierarchy (receptionist, attendant, assistants, etc.) and can directly communicate with the doctor one-on-one.)
Relation between multiple healthcare specialists
Many patients suffer from multiple diseases or disorders that need services of different specialists. Needless to say, it is very important for all the specialists involved to maintain constant communication and share details with one another to offer the best support. Besides, some medications don’t go along well with one another. With the help of constant information sharing the specialists can identify the other medications; the patients are taking and design their medication schedule accordingly. It can also speed up the treatment, eliminate unnecessary administration jobs like attending phone calls and also allows the specialists to create, monitor, manage and modify the referral flow.
Security of data even in most unfavorable conditions
No matter how secured physical records of a hospital may be, there are always the possibilities of losing them during unexpected conditions like staff negligence or disaster. However, that’s not the case with Digital Records. It can be saved online and can be accessed from anywhere. Besides it also saves time as the digital records can be accessed by multiple health professionals at the same time. It is especially helpful for the patients who are being treated for multiple health disorders by different professionals located in different areas. The shareable information is secured using best and foolproof technology.
Guest post by Charlotte Hovet, MD, MMM, and Joseph Kim, MD, MPH.
Remember a few years ago, when online shopping was first getting started, and everyone used words like “e-tailer” to refer to companies that sold stuff on line? When was the last time you heard that used? It has become an anachronism, because almost every company is now an e-tailer. And “online shopping” has become merely shopping, because no one thinks twice about buying via the Internet.
The phrase mobile health will soon be headed for extinction in the same way as “e-tailer” because it is becoming a routine way to consult your medical practitioner. Over the next couple of years, it will become a major force in healthcare, and in five years no one will think twice about using remote communications to get medical help. We predict there will soon come a time when young people will wrinkle their noses and ask “Really? You had to drive to the doctor’s office, and sit in a waiting room and infect a bunch of other people just to get some Tamiflu? That’s insane!”
Both public and private health plans are rapidly adding coverage for e-visits. Not only are they cheaper, they are also more effective for some types of care and consumers greatly appreciate this trend. While the baby boom generation may still have some holdouts who don’t like mobile communications, the majority of people across all age groups have not only adopted mobile technology, they’ve melded with it.
So the question for physicians and hospitals is not whether to adopt e-visits and mobile technology, but how to use them most effectively.
We co-hosted a webinar on the topic recently, in which we looked at mobile technology from the perspective of patients and caregivers. Both sets of stakeholders have a shared need: simplicity and ease of use. Merely making an application or function mobile isn’t enough. How mobility is integrated and used makes a big difference in the value derived.
During the webinar, we polled attendees on which mobility trends will have the biggest impact in the coming year:
47 percent think a greater use of digital communication between patients and healthcare providers will have the biggest impact.
5 percent voted for Telehealth replacing more in-person visits with healthcare providers
While 14.7 percent see increased use of medical-grade disease management mobile apps and growing adoption of health/fitness wearable devices and apps by consumers.