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The Covid-19 pandemic forced the healthcare industry to break all the rules and norms to set a record high in digital health technology spending capped at $9.1 billion in just the first quarter of 2020.
Over the years, calls have been made to advance the digital experience in healthcare through virtual healthcare experience with small uptakes here and there.
However, it was more apparent in 2020 during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic that patients and organizations would benefit from connected virtual healthcare ecosystems.
Examples of organizations that took the implementation to a whole new level include a small hospital in Toronto that built a Covid-19 self-assessment in record time.
Other stories that made the headlines include a community health system (Piedmont) that deployed a call center triage that handled a record number of inquiries and a hospital-at-home option for vulnerable seniors that was deployed by Lifespark.
To create a successful virtual care system, many parts have to be in sync to create a reliable system that will together inform, personalize and accelerate the possibility to care for another.
Such systems may include pharmacy delivery, chatbots, application portals, remote monitoring, online scheduling among many other digital engagement tools.
There are basically three major opportunities that define the virtual care ecosystem if effectively implemented. These include:
To realize these benefits of the virtual care ecosystem, there’s a need to understand the process of creating a seamless virtual healthcare experience.
The following steps will guide the process of creating a unified virtual healthcare experience and bring the desired benefits.
Besides the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, one thing that it has succeeded in doing is increasing the consumer’s expectation in their healthcare, which is a key driver of digital transformation in healthcare.
An Accenture study found out that 60% of patients wish to continue using technology in their communication with healthcare providers and also to manage future conditions.
There are many reasons for this preference and change of perception. For one, it’s convenient and a real time-saver with immediate remedies like when dealing with a sprained ankle.
Also, the fact that they can stay away from the medical facilities and limit their chances of catching the virus and still medical attention is a real win for most patients.
Riding on the foundation of a scalable, agile, and secure digital platform, healthcare organizations and providers who opt for virtual care ecosystems can easily follow up a patient’s healthcare journey and interact with them in an easy, nimble and quick way.
As this is a high-touch engagement strategy, healthcare organizations can complement and enhance patient experience while at the same time boosting their health outcomes with different initiatives as expanded access to care, better care plan adherence, and increased touchpoints.
To lay the foundation, start with a patient engagement platform that merges all patient data like Health Salesforce Cloud. Health Cloud makes it possible to connect disparate systems such as electronic medical records and front-office systems that capture contact details and communication preferences.
Health Cloud utilizes an API-driven approach to facilitate complete visibility into patient data such as clinical, behavioral, and consumer all in one place.
Engaging patients outside the walls of your medical facility is imperative, whether it’s before or after an acute incident. Patients want to know that their healthcare provider cares about them and knows who and where they are.
Unfortunately, only 40%, at least according to a Salesforce Connected Healthcare Consumer Report, of consumers believe the communication they receive is relevant to them.
Patient engagement can take many forms in the digital space. These may include:
The essence of the digital patient communities is to create a self-service mentality in patients which is likely to reduce unnecessary calls to health providers, thus setting patients on a path to being more proactive in their healthcare management.
Chatbots are the new powerhouse in digital engagement across many customer-facing industries. They make it easy for healthcare customers to connect with their health providers whenever they wish to.
Chatbots confirm identity and present the patient a list of menus to select from and also presents common requests like clinic locations, operating hours, etc.
If, for example, a patient wants to talk to discuss his/her Covid-related symptoms, the chatbot can transfer the patient to a standby medical professional.
With technological adjustments, this interaction has the potential to transform into a digital house call if video conferencing is embedded into the system.
Personalized content and promotions mean every communication and promotion going to patients is customized to their needs. The effect is a feeling of being truly seen and understood in patients by their providers.
Content can be personalized based on patient conditions and with more proactive communications methods like automated follow-ups, visit confirmations, etc. patients feel safer and more confident with their healthcare providers.
At least 40% of patients stand a significant risk resulting from forgetting, misunderstanding, or in some cases, ignoring healthcare advice.
If healthcare organizations resolve to provide ongoing outreach, then patients are likely to form a better understanding of their medical conditions, how and when they are required to take their medications.
This also includes the activities that they should engage in and those to avoid as well as how to use diet to better support their health conditions.
This stage of boosting adherence requires the following initiatives in place:
Step 4: Improve outcomes
Virtual healthcare rides on effective patient engagement and ongoing education. The more patients invest in their health, the better the outcomes.
A virtual care ecosystem that seeks to regularly engage patients can help mitigate risks and provide a foundation for better overall outcomes. Salesforce has created a special webinar to show providers how they can create a virtual care ecosystem.
Learn more here and if you need to kickstart your journey to the virtual care ecosystem, we are the right partners to walk the journey with you and help your organization create a seamless virtual healthcare experience.