Patients crave better communication from providers
April 22, 2022
As consumers have become accustomed to more and more digital innovations and personalized communications, it has become clearer that healthcare lags behind other industries in some areas of innovation. The COVID pandemic did lead to an increase in the use of digital health technologies — including video appointments, online communication, text messaging and AI and machine learning advancements — to help relieve the burden on our systems and improve communication and care. Not only is this what consumers want, but it’s also just good business.
Olive conducted a survey in March 2022 of 1,700 consumers who had at least one healthcare encounter during the past year to understand how much innovation they experienced and whether they consider it a continued priority. The survey found that although patients mostly speak with providers in person (85%) and on the phone (51%), they also utilize new forms of communication from providers and see the value in them.
Respondents are having more digital-first experiences, including text reminders about preventative care and appointments, text updates, care providers already having information about them at check-in, online appointment scheduling and messaging with a healthcare provider online. Most participants said these innovations were very or somewhat important to them, and many are willing to switch providers for access to them. But why are these things so important?
Digital communication methods have delivered benefits for both patients and providers. Patients report improved satisfaction, loyalty and convenience, while providers experience higher patient accountability, labor savings and improved cycle time.
Despite these affordances, healthcare organizations still rely on traditional methods of communication. There are many reasons providers stick with legacy systems: changing established workflows can be disruptive, technology budgets are constrained and some facilities fear a loss of control over their practice. But the reality is that these technologies are not going away, and consumer appetite for them is only going to grow.
Olive’s data showed these affordances are especially important for Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers. They were much more likely to say these innovations are very important to them, and they would definitely switch providers for access. Given that these younger generations make up twice the number of health consumers as the older generations, healthcare providers and organizations should take their digital desires seriously, as they represent the future of healthcare.
The good news is that these digital systems are also getting smarter as time goes on — they are utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning to better predict demand and handle nuances. They allow for more tailored settings by the users, resulting in better experiences for providers, their staff and patients. Interpreting responses continues to improve with advanced algorithms and pathways to understand the patient’s intent and give and receive the right information. Although there are expenses involved in adopting new technologies, there are also costs in losing patients to practices that offer more of what consumers want.