The healthcare industry is experiencing a power shift from providers to patients, largely due to advancing technologies that are giving patients greater choice and control over how they choose to manage their health.  This means providers have an incumbent responsibility to understand and meet patient expectations, or risk losing them to competitors.  Failure to meet customer needs can have a significant financial impact on healthcare providers, considering the average lifetime patient value to healthcare providers can be $650,000.  Extending that to additional family members, that figure could jump to more than $2 million, considering the average U.S. family size is about 3.2 people.

What do patients expect from their healthcare providers?  More than ever, the answer is convenience.  More than half of patients say convenient, easy access to healthcare services is the most important factor in their decision-making process, and 80% of patients say they would switch providers based on convenience factors.

For providers, this creates an opportunity to leverage connected health technologies to provide more convenient access to care, consultations, information, and communication.

Scheduling

Online scheduling through patient portals and mobile apps can make scheduling easier for patients.  Rather than having to call physicians’ offices during office hours and potentially waiting on hold, they can use digital resources to conveniently schedule appointments at any time.

Communication

Increasingly, patients are leveraging digital communications tools in their personal and professional interactions.  Email, chat, and even text messaging offer providers a way to engage with patients using whatever communications channels they prefer, and patients can choose to use whichever is most convenient for them at the time.  This can also increase patient engagement with their providers, helping them become more involved in and aware of their healthcare needs.

Virtual visits

Telehealth can enable patients to seek consultation and advice from physicians from their homes, offices, or virtually anywhere, eliminating the need to traveling for office visits and allowing patients to schedule appointments more conveniently.  Patients might want to have telehealth visits before leaving for work in the morning, or during lunch breaks, or even during the work day.  Virtual visits can take less time than office visits – there is no commuting involved and wait time in doctors’ offices – making it easier to schedule during busy days.  For parents, telehealth visits can also make it easier to get children the care they need – especially parents with multiple children.

Remote Patient Monitoring

RPM solutions allow for easier monitoring and reporting of health statistics without requiring office visits.  This can impact not only patients suffering from  chronic conditions, but also other situations where physicians want to follow up to ensure patients’ conditions are improving or to help monitor prescription adherence.   Connected RPM devices can measure, collect, and report data directly to physicians, reducing the effort for both patients and doctors, while patient portals and apps can allow patients to manually enter data.  In either case, the ability to record and report information to physicians remotely makes treatment and follow-up more convenient for patients, particularly when combined with digital communications tools and virtual visits.

Access

Telehealth, RPM, and other digital tools can increase access to healthcare services, including specialist care by reducing or even eliminating the need for in-person visits.  For patients in rural areas, or where specialists are not locally available, this helps ensure patients can receive the treatment they require.  It also makes it easier to seek treatment in special circumstances , such as when patients may be traveling and require consultation from their physicians at home.  Connected health can also make it easier for physicians to collaborate with colleagues to seek additional advice on specific cases, giving them an opportunity to deliver the best possible outcomes.

With the challenges the U.S. healthcare system already faces, including a shortage of physicians and a growing elderly population, using connected health solutions to deliver care more conveniently is a must.  Not only can it help reduce the strain in the system, but it can help ensure patient needs are being met, increasing their satisfaction with providers and, ultimately, creating lasting relationships and even opening the possibility for referral patients.

To learn more about how to deliver more convenient care using connected health, visit us here.