The Role of Digital Tools In Enhancing the Patient Experience and Value-Based Care

Chris Martini

By Chris Martini, chief provider officer, PatientPoint.

In today’s U.S. healthcare system, patients often find themselves in a perplexing situation where the quality of clinical care can be excellent, but the overall patient experience may fall short.

As the system increases its focus on value-based care and improved health outcomes, the patient experience and value-based care must be considered as interconnected entities. In fact, three value-based care quality metrics—patient satisfaction, preventive care screenings, and care coordination—are directly impacted by the overall patient experience.

The good news is that there are a number of digital tools that can play a pivotal role in fostering better awareness, comprehension, communication, and overall better care experiences. These enhancements ultimately translate into tangible benefits to support value-based care.

Empowering Patients Through Information

According to the 2023 PatientPoint Patient Confidence Index nearly half (48%) of Americans report feeling anxious before healthcare visits (an increase from 39% last year). This anxiety can be attributed to factors such as insufficient information and education, limited knowledge about healthcare providers, and hesitation to discuss health concerns with providers. Additionally, a third of Americans admit to regularly leaving appointments confused. Taken together, these anxieties hinder effective care.

When thinking about factors that could enhance their confidence in discussing their health, more than half (55%) of Americans highlighted the importance of receiving health education during appointments. Another 43% expressed interest in pre-visit education to increase confidence. Given that most patients spend approximately 14 minutes in the waiting room and an additional 12-13 minutes in the exam room without an HCP present, substantial opportunity exists to educate and empower patients while they wait.

Providers can maximize patients’ time in their offices and support value-based care by leveraging digital signage to disseminate relevant health information. Showcasing digital content in the waiting room prepares patients for important healthcare decision-making moments before they enter the exam room and has been proven to drive patient utilization of vital health services including mammography, colon cancer screening, flu vaccination, tobacco cessation counseling, and STI screening. The more personal nature of the exam room environment enables digital signage to deliver tailored information to patients, further motivating them to engage with their providers and take proactive steps for their health such as utilizing patient portals, scheduling preventive screenings and vaccinations, or discussing new treatment options.

The use of technology in a healthcare provider’s practice also plays a pivotal role in building patient trust, as confirmed by our 2023 Patient Confidence Index. More than half (51%) of surveyed Americans agreed that a provider’s utilization of technology and offering a tech-forward patient experience influenced their trust in the provider. This increased trust leads to more productive dialogues, improved adherence to care plans, and ultimately better outcomes, all of which align with the principles of value-based care.

Efficiency and Effectiveness through Digital Tools

Digital tools can also serve to enhance outcomes and support value-based care by saving valuable time for healthcare providers. Given the widespread prevalence of burnout throughout the healthcare workforce, providers are eager to increase efficiency wherever possible. Integrating digital touchscreens in the exam room can help save time and facilitate discussions on complex health topics through curated educational materials, 3D anatomical models, and whiteboard features. Providing the right education at the right time allows healthcare providers and staff to prioritize face-to-face interactions, thereby improving the overall patient experience, which, as we understand, leads to healthier patients. In a value-based care framework, the nexus of provider relief, an enhanced patient experience, and improved outcomes drives higher reimbursement and fosters healthier provider practices and healthcare systems.

To succeed in value-based care, now more than ever health systems and physician practices need to embrace digital tools that enhance the patient experience and encourage patients to take a more active role in managing their health. And patients want the tools: more than two-thirds of Americans (67%) told us in our 2023 Patient Confidence Index that they want to be able to describe their conditions and symptoms better before talking to their healthcare provider. Creating better care experiences means patients will feel more confident in provider-recommended procedures and regimens and will be more likely to follow through. The resulting reduced costs, improved quality, and better health are what we’re all reaching for. ­

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