By Tiffany Lily, healthcare experience consultant, TTEC Digital.
For years, patients had only a few channels in which they could interact with their healthcare providers. They saw their care team in-person during check-ups, interfaced with support and appointment scheduling staff at the front desk, or called to get in touch with a clinician to answer their questions.
Over the past decade, however, this short list of touchpoints has expanded to include a broad portfolio of digital tools and communication channels—creating new opportunities for patients to personalize their healthcare journey. When the pandemic halted in-person appointments, these alternative touchpoints quickly became the primary channels by which patients could interface with their providers.
Broadly speaking, the Great Telehealth Experiment has been a monumental success. In the spring of 2020, telehealth appointments were 78 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Even as the dust has settled on pandemic-related lockdowns, telehealth usage remains 40 times higher than pre-pandemic levels.
But telehealth is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this emerging “digital front door” approach to healthcare. Now, patients expect even more. They’ve seen the potential of the digital-first experience and how it can positively impact their lives, and they’re eager to see healthcare begin to replicate the last best experiences they encounter every day from many of the most well-known retail giants. More importantly, surveys show they’re willing to seek out and even pay more for the providers who can meet their high expectations.
To build patient loyalty and promote positive patient experiences, healthcare organizations face a golden opportunity to augment telehealth capabilities with a robust ecosystem of supplementary tools and channels that allow them to adapt to the new healthcare journeys patients prefer in the digital healthcare era. In many ways, healthcare is undergoing the same growing pains ecommerce organizations experienced just a few decades earlier, with one major difference: many healthcare organizations simply don’t have the comprehensive strategic view or technological know-how to build out this digital ecosystem on their own.
Fortunately, the path to patient experience transformation doesn’t have to feel daunting. After decades of engagements helping healthcare organizations move to the forefront of digital care, we’ve identified a handful of the most common process-based best practices that your organization can use to frame up its digital transformation.