As the consumerization of healthcare puts greater focus on the patient experience, patients will continue to demand frequent and convenient interactions with their healthcare provider. For this reason, telehealth is quickly becoming mainstream, with telehealth interactions expected to top one billion by the end of 2020. Even beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is expected to have staying power. In fact, one recent survey found that more than half of respondents would continue using telehealth services after the pandemic has ended, because they like the convenience it offers.
It’s helpful to think of telehealth as an integrated component of the care continuum, offering patients a chance to receive care wherever and whenever they need it. As a result, healthcare brands and practices are doubling down on the idea that telehealth can replicate the in-person healthcare experience. Especially as doctors embrace a more holistic approach to care, brands using telehealth services need to consider the ways they communicate with patients, whether proactively or reactively, to ensure that all communication is efficient, empathetic, safe and secure. But to do so requires that healthcare providers deliver an exceptional patient experience, adopting some modern “customer service” strategies for patients in the same way that other digital companies prioritize their customer experience.
Meet patients where they are
In healthcare settings in particular, being able to communicate safely and effectively on the patient channel of choice is key. Providing a consistent experience for patients at every touchpoint makes it significantly easier for healthcare providers and customer service professionals to deliver the personalized experiences patients crave. In addition, telehealth platforms that meet patients where they’re most comfortable allow healthcare providers to focus on what matters most— delivering excellent care and improving patient outcomes.
Provide a holistic view of patients
With more health data than ever before, it’s even more important to have a holistic view of the entire patient journey. This includes optimizing data and insights to help doctors and customer service professionals be as responsive as possible and create the highest possible levels of engagement. In addition, tools that enable access to health history, appointments and other pertinent records in one centralized view allows for a more comprehensive continuum of care.
Rely on technology for added efficiencies
There are vast benefits to incorporating appropriate technology and tools to improve the patient experience. For example, using AI to automate manual tasks, route conversations, and allow patients to self-serve when appropriate, helps boost productivity, connects patients with the most appropriate specialist, and fast tracks the most urgent issues. In addition, role-based access to private health information is critical to ensuring HIPAA compliance, and in turn, enhancing patient trust. From doctors and nurses to receptionists and administrators, technology with role-based controls in place will augment ongoing efforts to keep patient data safe and secure.
Use on-demand services as a launching point for continuous relationships
Telehealth platforms should be more than just a transactional stop for the visit. Instead, just like e-commerce sites offer recommendations for future purchases, platforms should showcase other service offerings like nutrition counseling, therapy or urgent care that align with a patients lifestyle and help build long-lasting relationships. This can increase awareness of the services available while also making it easier for them to access this care when they need it.
When it comes to health, patients expect a top-notch experience and, nowadays, the stellar customer service that accompanies it. Telehealth holds the promise of significant changes within the healthcare industry, offering an important opportunity to attract and retain patients. Making every aspect of telehealth as patient-centric as possible, and supporting those efforts with innovative customer service technology and tools, will be essential to boosting efficiency and improving patient care.
Making quality care globally accessible through Telehealth
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of having a robust Telehealth system to provide widely accessible healthcare despite physical or logistical limitations. Moreover, the pandemic has necessitated swift action and continuous collaboration between medical practitioners both locally and abroad.
This means that ideally, telemedicine systems and their customer support teams should be able to handle these cases and instances that require international or multilingual collaboration. Telehealth systems should then have a localization and interpretation strategy put in place as another layer of accessibility for foreign language speakers. Customer support teams should have certified medical translators and interpreters on stand-by to facilitate multilingual virtual communications whether it’s for consultations, inquiries or doctor-to-doctor communication.