HealthAugust 31, 2020

Seven best practices to enhance patient-centered care

Seven best practices that structure or expand virtual care models to enhance patient-centered care and thereby improve the patient experience, quality and health outcomes.

1) Support a sustainable infrastructure

By partnering with government, companies and other healthcare stakeholders can create a sustainable infrastructure to facilitate coordinated care across devices, health apps, technologies, and care settings. Part of that sustainable infrastructure creates reliable connectivity and bandwidth that become available to people in even the most-rural corners of our country and to people at all socioeconomic levels. That availability will translate into the ability to send and receive data faster, which promises an enormous shift in speed, which can better connect people and expand what’s possible today.

2) Improve health literacy

A virtual-care model must consider the delivery of health information to diverse populations, many of which may have problems communicating with their health providers, reading instructions on medications, or completing medical and insurance forms.

Consider how to improve health literacy, how to translate vital information, and how to deliver that vital information to people in a way they can relate to and understand—all in an effort to help improve appropriate health decisions and change patient behaviors.

3) Take a persona-based, patient-centric approach

Healthcare organizations must assess complete sets of patients in populations and divide them into different personas as well as health-issue-based segments. In addition to personas, they must have the ability to develop dynamic, individualized experiences. These factors together inform how technology-based engagement needs to be addressed. This patient-centric approach requires deliberate planning to define health consumer groups so that the virtual-patient-care experiences address sensitivities, are structured in ways that result in the right levels of care, and deliver the best experience.

For example, Wolters Kluwer teams designed virtual user interface technology for a smoking-cessation program years ago and patient focus groups said the tone and the voice did not sound like one that understood their struggles as smokers, so they were not motivated to change. When the voice talent did not conceal that she had been a smoker and used her natural instead of her professional recording voice, she helped connect with patient, and it made a huge difference in their willingness to engage in making changes.

4) Rethink how to engage

Care has a new front door, and healthcare organizations must therefore rapidly rethink the approach for populations so that the populations walk through that door. It requires an entirely new approach to engagement—especially when populations are hard to reach, non-English speaking, or uncomfortable with technology.

Consider proven ways to incorporate virtual care so that people adhere to their care plan consistently because they can now engage in a way they understand and recall what’s being asked of them, which then ties back to something that matters to them.

5) Prepare for a different kind of relationship

When people engage virtually, there is an opportunity to holistically address the whole person, including the person’s overall quality of life, financial and social situation, and state of mind.

Along the way is the need to prepare people for a new kind of experience. People may think they are ready for the virtual visit, but this is a new form of social interaction with new dynamics. People may assume the visit is the same as or similar to an office visit. But they need to learn that it is not, and they need to know what to expect and how to prepare.

6) Consider the clinician impact

Think through what the journey is going to be and the patient path and map to the clinical path so that everything comes together to create something better. Virtual-care solutions should inform the care team when the right intervention is needed. In many ways, virtual care actually augments in-person care.

Clinicians must be part of a multipronged approach that can accelerate adoption of virtual care. Some may want clinical-decision support that incorporates, on their screens in real time, certain information about the social determinants of health because those factors have a profound impact on how people interact with the healthcare system. Recognize that clinicians have to adapt and refine an array of soft skills—with the help of training to learn how to best work remotely with diverse underserved individuals and families.

These solutions should be seamlessly integrated into the care team’s workflow to help save clinicians’ time. Such integration assists with decision making, improves the practice of evidence-based medicine, and reduces provider burden.

7) Measure quality and construct new frameworks

With the introduction or expansion of virtual care as a new channel of care delivery, healthcare organizations must determine how they will measure quality and consumer experience. The measurement task will become more and more complex as the scale expands to populations—especially as we start including social-determinants data. There will also be new measures because automation makes clinician interactions with patients more efficient.

As important, virtual care will represent a new revenue mix. Organizations must analyze patient populations based on percentage of care that gets delivered to different population types, and they must determine what percentage of those people can be converted from in-person care to virtual care. This will form the basis of new revenue models.

Learn more in part 1 of our "5 Forces for the Future" series: Virtual care reaching the vulnerable

Discover how providers are ushering people through care's new front door by downloading part 1 of our series below.

Reimagining Healthcare
5 Forces for the Future
Explore our new series about forces that are crucial to reshaping healthcare, addressing weaknesses exposed by COVID-19 and newfound innovations showing potential.
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