Patients increasingly are being asked to take on more responsibility for their healthcare. Complex information, confusing billing, and high-deductible health plans can make seeking and receiving that care difficult. Luckily, healthcare organizations have the power to help patients navigate all of this by adopting a digital-first mindset.
People can do just about anything they want with the help of their phones, computers, and devices. The same rule should apply to healthcare. Interacting with patients through technology — texting, mobile-friendly sites, and apps — gives them a level of control over an otherwise confusing process while increasing engagement with providers. It also helps healthcare providers improve efficiency within their organizations, more evenly distribute resources, and reduce costs.
Unfortunately, it can be overwhelming or difficult to adopt a digital-first mindset and open the “digital front door” to patients — especially patients in certain circumstances. Many rural areas of the country and underserved communities, for instance, still don’t have consistent access to Wi-Fi, which is needed to support digital interactions with healthcare providers. And even if they do have access, some patients might still struggle to communicate and operate digitally.
Opening the digital front door in healthcare isn’t usually the biggest challenge — reaching patients through that door is.
Why the Benefits Outweigh the Challenges
The advantages of digital healthcare far outnumber any barriers to it. It’s one of the best ways to reach and serve patients in even the most underserved, unreachable communities and one of the best ways of improving operational efficiency in healthcare organizations.
The impact of technology in healthcare has been great, with tools like telehealth solutions offering patients more engaging and convenient care. If we can reach people in remote communities, virtual care increases their access to quality care — access they don’t easily have if they have to travel to appointments physically. This can result in better appointment attendance and improved clinical outcomes.
Digital solutions also help health systems streamline operations. If patients can complete paperwork before their appointments, it saves staff members time and eliminates the need to sort through paperwork while patients sit in a waiting room.
Further, encouraging patients to use wearable and remote monitoring technology leads to less manual data collection for patients and staff members. When patients can more easily access their data, they can engage with it more. And when doctors and nurses have better access to that data, they can provide better, more efficient, and more personalized care.
How Tech Tools Can Transform Healthcare
With the overarching benefits of adopting digital-first practices and opening the digital front door in healthcare in mind, here are three areas in which technology can cut through bottlenecks in healthcare delivery:
1. Long wait times at appointments.
Appointment wait times are a common bottleneck in healthcare. Physicians might be free and ready to see a patient upon arrival, but that patient could be stuck filling out paperwork in the waiting room for 15 minutes, delaying the entire process. Using digital solutions that enable patients to fill out paperwork from their devices before an appointment eliminates this slowdown.
2. Surgical delays.
Every time a patient needs surgery or a procedure, they have to fill out a consent form and acknowledge that they agree to receive treatment. But lost or misplaced patient consent forms can cause surgeries to be delayed or postponed, impacting schedules for the surgical department — and revenue. Offering electronic consent forms consolidates the process to a central location, eliminating any risk that those forms are lost or misplaced.
3. Form management.
On the note of lost or misplaced forms, digital solutions can prevent health systems from needing to reach out to patients after appointments to recollect information. When forms exist only on paper, there’s no way to ensure that the most up-to-date information is being used. Having a digital repository of all forms, however, eliminates manual processes and reduces errors.
At Interlace Health, we are committed to offering digital solutions that help healthcare providers open the digital front door. To learn more about our solutions, contact us today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Over the past five years, Lauren Ziegler has been a member of Interlace Health’s Marketing team, coordinating and executing marketing communication initiatives, such as copywriting and content management, public and media relations, social media, and corporate communications. She has over a decade of experience in working with technology companies. Lauren is passionate about helping the healthcare community understand Interlace’s Health’s value, vision, and commitment to improving experiences for providers, patients, and staff.