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How to Improve Patient Experience with Data Management

female doctor reviews imaging data on a computer screen with her patient

Up in the Air for Healthcare: How to Improve Patient Experience with Smarter Data Management

In hospitals and boardrooms worldwide, healthcare executives are working to leverage data to improve the patient experience amid rising consumerism and competition. While the technical path forward is complex, the mission is not: Make life easier for the people you serve.

No industry shows how a smooth digital experience can mint advocates like the airlines.

For decades, a delayed flight meant anxious passengers could expect a lot of waiting around the terminal. Even when the airline anticipated a delay hours in advance, travelers didn’t know until they got to the airport.

How things have changed. Recently, a friend’s flight got held up. She didn’t even bother heading to the airport. Each boarding time change triggered a notification to her phone. She knew precisely when to arrive — with a digital boarding pass in hand, Wi-Fi pre-purchased via the airline’s app, and a last-minute, discount seat upgrade.

It’s the kind of digital, customer-first experience that people today demand — including in healthcare.

I recently took a last-minute business trip to Thailand. I booked the flight within minutes but couldn’t access my immunization record to satisfy international travel requirements. Instead, I scrambled to get each vaccine — perhaps unnecessarily.

The decisions that healthcare leaders make today could influence the patient experience, for better or worse, for years to come. By laying a strong data-driven foundation, savvy organizations have an opportunity to win back patient trust just like the airlines did with travelers. Soon, healthcare could parlay gains in technology and trust into an ecosystem in which new streams of data bolster convenience, access, and outcomes for patients.

But where do you start?

1. Know that patients and healthcare organizations are primed to double down on data and digital right now.

Before COVID-19, 0.3 percent of clinical interactions occurred virtually, according to a study of 36.5 million Americans. But in the first four months of the pandemic, 23.6 percent of visits used telemedicine. Even Medicare saw a 63-fold jump in telehealth use. Best of all, patients grew happy with virtual care.

At an 85 percent adoption rate, clinicians have also warmed up to telemedicine.

If your customers and clinicians weren’t ready for digital healthcare experiences before the pandemic, they are now.

Yet, despite major investments in information technology, three-quarters of physicians share telehealth data manually, according to the American Medical Association.

This moment represents a unique opportunity to bridge data gaps and build out the digital patient experience.

2. Leverage data to streamline appointments and scheduling.

The best place to start is at the beginning. Pre-service — everything from booking appointments to completing forms — remains frustrating. Patients often wait 20 minutes before seeing a clinician, and 20 percent consider booking an appointment the most irritating part of healthcare.

These headaches mean pre-service is ripe for improvement. Success depends on deploying the right technology as part of a sound data strategy.

Imagine this: A patient provides personal and financial information online ahead of a visit. When they get to the clinic, office staff have that data they need. The patient doesn’t need to recomplete forms.

Even better, the patient books their appointment online, gets notified when to arrive, and gains digital access to follow-up information like lab results and prescriptions. While many healthcare organizations believe they have this part down, the reality for customers often suggests otherwise.

By making data seamlessly available, healthcare organizations can make a better patient experience a reality.

3. Prepare to gather health data and derive actionable insights from new sources.

When healthcare builds out data infrastructure and patient trust, we can gather, harmonize, and analyze data streams that have vexed innovators for years.

Think wearables and mobile health apps. COVID-19 contributed to explosive growth in the consumer adoption of smartwatches and personal fitness trackers, but most healthcare providers have yet to find ways to tap that data to inform clinical decision making.

Health data has come a long way from Meaningful Use. Electronic medical records are nearly everywhere, bringing with it advances in clinical care, research, and operations.

The next data evolution should bring a sleeker, digital, data-driven patient experience. But healthcare innovators need to set the stage now.

Shouldn’t accessing your own patient health data be as simple as planning a journey halfway around the world?

To learn how you can build a better patient experience with healthy data, visit the HealthShare Unified Care Record page.