Patients want to be equipped with the tools to be active in their own health, and research shows that they are becoming increasingly comfortable using digital services to do so. Unfortunately, most healthcare organizations are lagging on the uptake. A recent study conducted by Technology Advice Research found that over 60 percent of patients say digital services play an important role when choosing a physician, yet less than one third of patients say that their physician offers those services.
Medical practices must evolve to meet the expectations of their patients but it seems that many simply don’t know where to start when it comes to digitization. As in most situations, the first step towards progress is asking the right question: What are the most important digital services necessary to facilitate patient engagement?
According to the study, the top five services that patients would like their physicians to offer are:
- Access to online test results/diagnoses
- Online appointment scheduling
- Online bill pay
- Smartphone app for scheduling
- Secure messaging
These services are in greatest demand among adults ages 25 to 34, though online access to test results is a priority across all age groups.
Despite patients increasingly demanding digital services, only 27.8 percent report having access to online test results, while 19.7 percent have access to online appointment scheduling and 17.7 percent say their physician offers online bill pay.
An overwhelming 68 percent of patients say that it is important for physicians to follow up with them after an appointment. One of the most efficient and convenient ways to do this is via secure messaging, either through a smartphone app or web-based portal. This provides a quick and easy connection with the power to vastly improve the patient-physician relationship.
Digitization that falls in line with the needs and desires of patients leads to greater patient engagement, which in turn leads to increased patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes.
Practices should not only make sure that patients are aware of their digital services available to them, but offer ways for patients to learn how to use them effectively. Those that do so will gain a significant edge over the competition.