HealthJune 22, 2023

Technology integration is key to improving the patient experience

Healthcare organizations face challenges from a variety of sources, including patients who want a better, less-fragmented experience across their healthcare journey. Fortunately, technology integration can alleviate some of the pain and deliver the experience the patient expected.

Multiple healthcare challenges require attention—and solutions

Healthcare organizations face a multitude of personnel, financial, competitive, and service quality issues.

Staff shortages are top of mind for many leaders, as recruitment and retention of sufficient numbers of skilled professionals is more difficult due to staff burnout. Similarly, financial pressures resulting from decreasing reimbursements are eroding operating margins, limiting the ability to expand or enhance services without raising prices. Further, increasing competition from non-traditional players is providing patients with options to access simple healthcare services outside the clinical setting, decreasing organizational revenue and further complicating an already complex care-delivery environment.

Patient expectations continue to evolve

Patients see consequences of these factors in the form of extended wait times to see clinicians, or medication errors that can result when staff is rushed or inexperienced. More often, patients feel their care experience is fragmented, with providers and payers falling short of delivering the integrated, streamlined, consistent service patients expect. The result: patient demands for a better experience are rising, requiring leaders to balance priorities that address patient concerns while maintaining or strengthening their organization’s workforce and capabilities.

Consistent, coordinated care will elevate the patient experience

The frustration of patients is palpable and predictable, as are their expectations for a better experience. Patients desire coordinated, holistic service across their health journey to help them thrive, when they are healthy and particularly when they are ill or hurt. Unwanted variability of care occurs when decisions and medical information aren’t coordinated and consistent across the care continuum.

Patients use a consumer lens to assess their healthcare experience

Patients are consumers of healthcare, and they bring a consumer’s sensibility to interactions with healthcare organizations, individual clinicians, and the overall system of payers and providers. Decades into the digital age, consumer patients have deep experience with service models and technology innovations that commercial and retail organizations use to deliver targeted, consistent, and cost-effective service. Those consumer experiences and expectations carry over to healthcare, even though healthcare delivery is vastly more complicated and carries significantly higher personal stakes.

Ongoing innovation is required to deliver patient-centered care

Healthcare organizations have responded to patients’ evolving expectations by adopting automated patient outreach, expanding virtual care options, and offering hybrid options that blend in-facility and at-home services. Yet, to reduce fragmentation across the patient care journey and deliver a holistic, unified healthcare experience requires more innovation.

Technology integration is key to meeting patient expectations and organizational goals

Integrating advanced technology solutions can enhance patient service delivery and improve the efficiency of clinical and organizational operations. Today, technology-enabled platforms such as UpToDate® patient and member engagement solutions help patients, providers, and payers maintain contact and share information quickly and consistently. Electronic health records (EHRs) provide a shared reference so that all members of the care team see the same flow of interactions, medications, procedures, and resources provided to patients. The goals are to expedite service without duplicating steps such as conducting patient histories or medication reviews.

Similarly, utilizing comprehensive clinical decision support (CDS) tools such as UpToDate® can reduce variability of care and expedite service delivery because clinicians avoid having to consult multiple resources to make an accurate diagnosis or develop a treatment plan. Providing technology enablers and integrating CDS solutions into clinicians’ workflow could also reduce clinician burnout and dissatisfaction. They can also benefit the organization by serving as “one source of truth” for the whole clinical team, which helps team members achieve and maintain alignment across the patient care journey.

Every day, healthcare leaders must balance competing priorities and address multiple challenges, while trying to deliver a better patient experience and strengthen their organizations. Those priorities and challenges will continue. Leaders and organizations can rely upon technology integration to help address—if not resolve—them completely.

Read how technology can help align care decisions across the patient journey.

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