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Nearly two years after Covid-19 abruptly shifted healthcare from personal to virtual appointment, people’s preferences to communicate with physicians have changed dramatically.
Hospitals and healthcare systems have responded by increasing telehealth offerings and increasing staffing at their call centers, but a recent survey suggests providers will benefit from a comprehensive communications and outreach strategy. And that will require a long, rigorous look – if any – at customer data that can be linked to providers’ communication experience.
According to a November 2021 survey by Dynata and Redpoint Global, 80% of healthcare customers prefer to use digital channels, such as online messaging, texting or virtual visits, to communicate with their providers; This compares with 58% of consumers surveyed in early 2020.
Other findings from the 2021 survey show that 44% of consumers prefer digital communications, 65% reported using telehealth during epidemics and 34% plan to continue using telehealth regularly.
Healthcare strives for a digital front door
Digital communication facilitates healthcare customers and reduces the need for individual interactions that could bring them (or their providers) into infectious situations. Organizations are increasingly referring to this communication experience as a “digital front door” – a potential entry point for a variety of healthcare needs, from asking medical questions to filling out an appointment schedule.
However, the emergence of digital front door is an important challenge if communication and connectivity is possible across different channels. In his 2020 report on the evolution of healthcare consumer engagement, Gartner estimated that this is the case for half of healthcare organizations today.
John Nash, RedPoint Global’s Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, said: “Healthcare has a lot of data about consumers – but consumers are realizing that these organizations don’t know them. This is because organizations have invested heavily in point solutions at the expense of developing strategies. ”
This inconsistency is largely due to the fact that each communication touchpoint has a separate digital identity for a customer, noted Chris Evangulidi, director of healthcare at Redpoint Global. Contact the call center, your digital identity is your phone number. Send patient portal message, it is your email address and / or patient id. Engage on social media, it’s your Twitter handle. Communicate with a web-based chatbot, it’s your device ID.
Also, if the health system is developed through M&A or integration, there are probably multiple hospitals, emergency care centers and outpatient clinics, not to mention multiple enterprise applications such as electronic medical records (EMRs). Dozens of identities of a consumer who has seen doctors in more than one place may be spread across the healthcare spectrum.
“At the enterprise level, healthcare organizations struggle to identify who the customer is when they appear,” Evangulidi said.
Why single data platforms have advantages in addition to digital communication
For example, it may not matter to a customer who wants to confirm a strap throat and get a prescription for an antibiotic. But it’s a big deal for clients with complex, long-term care needs who communicate with the healthcare organization on a more consistent basis. Effective engagement of these consumers requires a transition from the sided channels of communication to a more holistic approach, Evangulidi said.
“You need a patient data platform, and you need a focal point of control over patient travel,” he added. “When you have individual, separate channels, if you optimize on one, then you can interfere with the other’s goals. You can wrongly over-engage with the consumer and you can add a lot of friction to the process.”
The centralized data platform also benefits healthcare organizations that shift from fee for service to value-based care models. According to Evangulidi, the data platform allows communication and connectivity to “work on a single brain” as well as decision support at the point of integration of data analytics, care and care. Healthcare providers who have sufficient consumer data in one place may look at the data to provide recommended action based on past history rather than responding to the customer’s current care needs.
“You can’t make decisions if you don’t have the data and insight,” Evangulidi said. That’s why the largest payers and healthcare systems are investing in strong consumer data and analytics environments. “
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