What are Patients’ Digital Health Preferences, Really?

Just as businesses cater their products to their customers, healthcare practices need to cater their services to their patients. One of the ways that practices are doing this is by offering telehealth to their patients. With such digital tools, patients obtain greater access to healthcare in a more convenient manner. While some practices believe that their patients would prefer traditional healthcare, studies are proving the opposite. Patients want their healthcare providers to go digital, and for practices to maintain success and longevity - they need to listen to their consumers. 

Growing Demand for Telehealth

 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced healthcare providers to get creative in how they treat patients. While some patients must meet with their physician in person, most patients do not need to. Once this was realized, the popularity of telehealth practices skyrocketed. Through telehealth, patients were able to not only receive the same level of care from their providers but an enhanced level. Telehealth provided patients with improved access to healthcare, with more convenience and efficiency than ever before. 

Now, as the world begins to return to some sense of normalcy, some think that telehealth will no longer be the preferred healthcare option for patients. In reality, 88% of patients under the age of 40 stated that they would choose their next provider based upon their online presence. Patients have reaped the benefits of digital healthcare and do not wish to revert to traditional care methods. Thanks to developments in telehealth, patients can communicate with their healthcare providers digitally, making healthcare considerably more accessible. 

Patients no longer have to commute to a doctor’s office or drive hours away for a specialist. Furthermore, obtaining second opinions, viewing medical records, finding informative resources, and scheduling appointments are faster and more efficient than ever. These tools also allow providers to be more efficient when meeting with patients, resulting in improved care and shorter wait times. 

Overall, telehealth has optimized the healthcare experience for patients, and patients have noticed - in fact, 93% of respondents in a survey about digital healthcare expect to use digital tools that facilitate patient-provider interactions. 8 in 10 patients agree that technology has made seeking treatment easier and improved certain aspects of their healthcare. But, for practices to fully benefit from the implementation of these tools, they need to understand which tools patients want most. 

 

Patient Preferred Tools

 

For years, patients have struggled with the inefficiencies of healthcare, much to their detriment. Traditionally, patients had to schedule appointments months in advance, only then to commute a great distance and sit in a waiting room for possibly hours. Then, there was even more waiting if a patient needed to send scans, obtain test results, seek a second opinion, or receive a subscription. Essentially, the healthcare process was slow, and the industry was not necessarily patient-facing. 

Today, healthcare practices and providers recognize the importance of the patient experience and are working to continuously improve it. For this reason, more and more practices are implementing technology such as telehealth solutions, finally giving patients the resources they need to take control of their health. That being said, who knows better what patients want in a digital health tool than patients themselves? 

Providers asked what patients wanted to see in their telehealth platform, and patients answered. The most significant priority for patients in telehealth is digital tools that increase their access to healthcare and make healthcare more convenient. 83% of respondents agreed that providers should offer tools that enhance patient access to healthcare, including: 

 

Digital Scheduling 

One of the first tools that patients hope to see in their telehealth platform is digital scheduling capabilities. With this ability, patients can easily schedule, reschedule, and view their medical calendar. As a result, patients can easily keep track of any appointments they may have, ensuring that nothing is missed or forgotten. 

 

Online Payment

Another simple but valuable tool that patients benefit from is online payment and billing options. Conducting billing online serves as an excellent time-saver for patients while allowing them to adjust and view their payment options easily. Patients can easily input their payment and insurance information and clearly view a receipt from each visit.  

 

Patient-Provider Communication

Perhaps the most significant tool that patients are looking for is the means of patient-provider communication. The right telehealth platform should enable patients and providers to communicate digitally, whether through video conferencing or instant messaging. 

These capabilities save patients from coming in for in-person visits, which may not be necessary thanks to such digital tools. Instead, patients can quickly meet with their providers virtually. As a result, patients receive the same care and attention from their providers as they would face-to-face but in a significantly more efficient manner. 

 

Digital Prescription Filling

Another excellent time-saving tool is digital prescription filling. With this tool, providers can easily prescribe medicine and refill pre-existing prescriptions via their telehealth portal. This ensures that patients get the medicine they need in a timely manner, without having to commute to their doctor’s office just for a signature. Additionally, patients can receive real-time updates on the status of their prescription, ensuring that it is received on time and in the correct location. 

 

Electronic Health Record (EHR) Storage

Patients also hope to see storage for their medical records in their digital health platform. Traditionally, patients may have had to fax medical records to their providers or carry around physical CDs. Today, providers can easily upload records and images to the telehealth platforms where they are kept secure and safe from expiration. Another benefit of this is that patients can receive real-time notifications of case updates, such as a message or a file added, ensuring that they are kept informed at all times. 

 

Additional Telehealth Resources 

Perhaps an often overlooked but highly beneficial digital health tool is asynchronous telehealth resources. In providing patients with resources such as their treatment plans, information regarding their condition, and care options, providers ensure that their patients are informed.

60% of patients attempt to diagnose themselves after looking up their symptoms online, which means that over half of patients could be seeking harmful or incorrect treatment. While it is important that patients access the healthcare information they need, it should be from a reliable and knowledgeable source such as their healthcare provider. For this reason, having access to reliable healthcare information such as a treatment plan and care options is instrumental to patients in their digital health platform. 

 

Patient-Facing Digital Healthcare

A telehealth platform is a highly lucrative tool for both patients and healthcare providers. Such digital tools create a more efficient and positive patient-provider experience, but it is essential that practices do not lose focus of who they are serving. For the modern healthcare practice to improve patient care, they must focus on implementing consumer-centric technology. By listening to their patients, providers can ensure that the tools they use improve the healthcare industry for patients. 

While it may seem as though telehealth is still a new concept, 90% of survey respondents feel no obligation to stay with a provider that doesn’t offer a satisfactory digital experience. For healthcare providers to thrive as a modern business, they must create a patient-facing digital environment. Healthcare providers can drastically improve care and find success in their practice by considering patient preferences when adopting digital health tools.

 

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