Patient engagement has become a top priority for healthcare organizations. Today’s patients are more informed and involved in their own care, and they’re looking for providers who are committed to making sure that the patient experience is the best it can be.
Virtual care settings may have challenges with regard to patient engagement, but practitioners can leverage these restrictive elements to come up with engaging strategies for connected care (also known as “webside manner”) that leads to positive outcomes for all parties.
In this blog post, we’ll outline key principles of patient engagement and how these ideas can be implemented in a virtual care setting.
What Is Webside Manner? The Definition
Bedside manner is a term used to describe the interpersonal skills and attitudes of a health care provider during clinician-patient encounters. Tone of voice, body language, and choice of verbiage while interacting with patients can all represent a clinician’s bedside manner.
A strong bedside manner is especially important in hospital settings. Clinicians with solid bedside manner skills have an innate ability to connect with patients, convey empathy, and communicate in a way that promotes understanding and instills trust.
Webside manner is the virtual equivalent to bedside manner. It consists of all aspects of a clinician’s bedside mannerisms, but in a virtual setting. Both webside and bedside manner can play a pivotal role in overall patient satisfaction.
Having a health care provider who listens, responds thoughtfully to questions, and appears genuinely concerned about a patient’s well-being can hugely impact the treatment experience.
A Brief History of Webside Manner
Connected care gained massive popularity after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it isn’t a new idea. Telehealth’s initial introduction dates back to 1879, when Hanson Lancet suggested that doctors’ appointments by telephone could reduce unnecessary patient visits. Fast forward to today, virtual visits are now a normalized medium for routine and non-urgent clinical needs.
The Virtual Patient Experience in 2022 and Beyond
Over the course of the 21st century, healthcare has experienced a new wave of digital transformation. More hospitals and medical centers have invested in telehealth and virtual patient experience solutions to streamline services and reduce costs.
Both technologies provide healthcare organizations with engaging, interactive, and dynamic digital mediums for remote patients. Virtual patient experiences not only streamline the virtual patient journey, but also help to create exceptional user experiences.
Virtual patient experience solutions are often integrated with features that enable online appointment scheduling, virtual consultations, and remote check-ins. The aim of these tools is to humanize the virtual patient journey and provide a positive user experience from start to finish.
Patients can leverage virtual care platforms to review pertinent patient data, track treatment progress, and stay in touch with providers. These solutions are accessible through a variety of devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Why Is Webside Manner Essential for Virtual Care?
Patient satisfaction is a key outcome indicator in healthcare. Patients who feel like they’ve been treated with respect and dignity have more trust in their providers, which makes them more likely to share sensitive information and agree to recommended treatment plans. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of clinician webside manner within virtual healthcare, as it has been shown to be one of the main indicators of patient satisfaction.
In addition to increasing patient satisfaction, a stronger webside manner is associated with lower rates of clinician burnout and higher rates of job satisfaction. Such outcomes are equally important, as unhappy clinicians may be prone to making mistakes and feeling less engaged at work.
Large-Scale Solutions for Stronger Webside Manner and Higher Remote Patient Satisfaction
With these key improvement strategies, health care organizations can encourage better webside manner amongst their staff members.
Most doctors choose the medical field out of sheer desire to make a difference in people’s lives and strengthen the health of their communities. Unfortunately, many new doctors leave their academic medical programs with poor bedside mannerisms.
Improper training in school teaches medical students to provide sterile, emotionless care. Some medical programs also train new doctors to center patient care on what they think is best rather than what the patient wants and needs.
In many cases, students who become doctors leave programs with the idea that bedside manner isn’t necessary or important. According to this scientific study, 89.3% of medical students disagreed with being given practical bedside manner training.
With lack of proper bedside manner training in medical school, webside manner adds another layer of difficulty. Constant changes to the internet of things (IoT) call for regular updates to webside manner, training to ensure that telehealth providers can stay ahead of the curve. Thus, webside manner is a never ending learning curve that organizations should keep clinicians up to speed on.
Connected Patient Engagement
Connected patient engagement is the process of using digital health technologies to help providers remotely monitor their patients’ well-being, and enable patients to access quality care wherever they are in the world.
Connected patient engagement further enables providers to remotely care for and communicate with patients in real-time. This form of care can assist a variety of patient populations, from those with chronic diseases and new mothers, to those with mental health issues.
There are several uses of this technology that providers can fully leverage to engage patients remotely. Most connected patient engagement platforms are downloadable by app. Through these apps, both patients and providers can communicate with each other and access important health-related data, such as blood pressure levels and heart rate.
When implemented properly, connected patient engagement is a win-win solution for both parties. Healthcare providers should keep the following factors in mind when engaging with patients via technology, which can all work in favor of a clinician’s webside manner.
Leave Decisions to the Patient
While it’s important for providers to understand their patients’ preferences, providers should prioritize the patient’s preferred methods of communication and care over their own. It’s best not to take a “my way or the highway” approach when providing treatment options. Giving patients freedom to take charge of their health (within the confinements of how you can help them) can increase patient satisfaction and their confidence in you as a provider.
Offer User-Friendly Technology
All healthcare organizations offering virtual patient care should invest in easy-to-use telehealth technologies.
The last thing providers want is for patients to feel frustrated while attempting to navigate a digital platform. This only adds stress rather than taking away from it. User-friendly technologies ensure that patients don’t have to work twice as hard to reach providers at home or in a remote location.
Seamless and Secure Virtual Patient Experiences
Creating an exceptional virtual patient experience is paramount for healthcare organizations seeking to thrive in the digital age.
More patients desire the seamless ability to access medical records and check-in with providers online. To provide this,organizations must adopt an omnichannel approach that integrates patient experiences across multiple channels while maintaining high standards of security.
The first step in creating an integrative virtual patient experience is ensuring that you have a user-centric onboarding process. This involves establishing a clear digital experience for patients across all touchpoints, including a seamless intake and registration process.
The next step is to develop a deep understanding of your patients’ behaviors and online interactions. This way, you can create personalized experiences and use data to drive digital engagement and impactful communications.
Patients should be met with a personalized experience upon login to your platform. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies can trigger relevant health and wellness content tailored to each patient’s needs, and offer personalized insights and recommendations.
Artificial intelligence can also help to facilitate seamless patient-provider communication and reduce appointment wait times by providing access to virtual check-ins.
With key analytics, providers can further identify best-performing channels and content. Data-driven organizations leverage these insights to drive digital engagement and increase patient participation in recommended treatments and activities.
Data-Driven Clinician-Patient Communication
Virtual clinician-patient communication offers patients a new way to engage with healthcare providers and remotely access support. Such communication also provides organizations with an opportunity to provide support to patients outside of a traditional clinical setting.
Virtual clinician-patient communication can help patients:
- Feel supported in their journey towards their health and wellness goals.
- Feel connected to their care teams.
- Achieve better health outcomes.
- Feel satisfied with the care experience.
- Reduce stress and improve satisfaction with care.
- Collaborate with clinicians through tools and online portals.
- Reduce the number of physical appointments and visits.
- Save time and money.
On the flip side, it can help organizations:
- Improve patient retention rates.
- Reduce appointment wait times.
- Drive positive positive patient outcomes.
- Improve operational efficiency.
Logistics and Support with Virtual Healthcare Technology
No matter how advanced the technological tools available in healthcare are, they’re only as good as the logistics and support that go with them. This is why it’s important for healthcare organizations to invest in logistics and support along with their virtual care platforms.
Sound logistics must be integrated with your patient engagement and other telehealth platforms to ensure a timely and consistent execution of care with each patient. Virtual appointment scheduling, ordering lab tests, online retrieval of medical records, and remote patient monitoring are examples of virtual care solutions that should run smoothly 24/7.
For virtual healthcare to thrive, patients and providers need to be able to connect in a way that is seamless, convenient, and consistent. Lack of proper logistics can frustrate users and cause wastage in time and resources.
The patient experience impacts every healthcare organization’s bottom line, so providers should go above and beyond in providing an excellent virtual patient care experience. To do this, virtual care providers must build with logistics in mind.
When selecting a provider for your virtual care platform, provision of logistics and support services should be non-negotiable. You’ll want a provider that can meet your specific requirements and be flexible enough to grow with you as your organization grows and evolves.
Solution providers should also be able to provide insight into what the future of virtual care might look like and how you can prepare for it, as well as customized solutions that can integrate with your existing technology platforms.
Access Connected Healthcare Solutions for Patient Engagement Through Trapollo
Trapollo can help providers navigate diverse patient engagement needs. Program design and consulting are embedded within our connected care platform. When designing custom-tailored virtual care platforms for our partners, our step-by-step approach takes the guesswork out of building, piloting, and scaling winning Connected Health programs.
Contact us for more information on how connected care can improve patient outcomes and increase patient engagement.