Building a great digital patient experience might be healthcare’s biggest challenge

Doctor examining x-rays on digital tablet

Customer experience is becoming the key differentiator among nearly every industry. Some research even suggests that customers are willing to pay more for a similar product if the experience buying the product is superior to other options.

The same holds true for healthcare. Patients expect a more flexible, digital experience when it comes to their health journeys. Even more so in the midst of COVID-19, when telehealth is becoming commonplace and communication with clinicians and staff happens via patient portal.

The patient experience seemed to be the theme of the day in Healthcare at CommunityLIVE on Thursday. Two sessions in particular dove into how the pandemic is challenging healthcare organizations to evolve – and how to provide a great patient experience.

The impact of COVID-19 on Health IT

Attendees were spellbound by Steve Holloway’s session, How COVID-19 impacted healthcare IT. Holloway, principal analyst and company director, Signify Research, shared new data from the analyst firm and discussed ways health IT can combat tight budgets, growing network complexities and increased security threats.

Healthcare providers face challenges from four corners, according to Holloway: integration, financial viability, accessibility and operational. They create issues from poor interoperability between major system components and unstructured, siloed data management and storage to fragmented networks, de-centralized IT management and growing demand for patient access to complete care records.

It’s a lot, but manageable.

In terms of integrations, Holloway suggests healthcare organizations consider cloud architecture adoption. COVID-19 has encouraged hospitals to redefine clinical and operational roles, and on-premises solutions are becoming more difficult – and costly – to manage. A more robust data registry and repository can help create tighter inter-provider interoperability by enabling the rapid sharing of data between health providers and public health agencies, Holloway shared.

Health IT departments should expect tighter budgets for the foreseeable future, as well as more interest on any tech solution’s total cost of ownership (TCO). This will become a fundamental metric, said Holloway. As long as health IT departments are prepared to support telehealth, which will become a normal part of patient care post-pandemic, with strong interoperability and flexible scalability, they will be one step ahead.

“This includes patient access to records,” said Holloway. “A majority of patient portals only offer partial records. Access to imaging and multimedia clinical reports are especially difficult.” Patients and providers alike want to connect clinical systems and access more complete, longitudinal records.

As we move into 2021 and beyond, healthcare providers can expect remote work to continue, and spread to other departments beyond radiology. Health IT departments will want to shore up system virtualization in departments like pathology and oncology.

“The pandemic response acted as a trial for non-AI based and AI-based triage tools in radiology, emergency rooms and primary care,” Holloway shared. Many providers want to see those tools become common place. And patients, who are eager to access elective procedures, may push providers to adopt that technology faster.

From economic recovery to the evolution of multidisciplinary care, healthcare organizations are doing all they can with what they have. Health IT plays a vital role building the technology architecture that will allow their hospitals to do more with less.

Providing patients with more access to health information

Patient experience will play a big role in how healthcare evolves. As mentioned earlier, patients want greater digital access to their medical records whenever or wherever they are.

In her CommunityLIVE session, Improving the patient experience with NilRead and Epic MyChart, Dana Ostrow, senior director, Clinical Systems, NYU

telehealth

Langone Health shared with attendees how the hospital is planning to provide patients exactly that.

NYU Langone first started reimagining the patient digital experience in 2017, and senior leadership tasked the hospital’s technology team with building on that strategy. Beginning with radiology, the team determined it wanted to give patients an easy way to:

  • Access prep information
  • Understand what to expect
  • Contact radiology
  • See their exam scheduling
  • Review results

“We wanted to change the way people were interacting with us,” said Ostrow. “We want to make sure they have access to the right information at the right time.”

Today, online or via mobile app, NYU Langone patients can schedule an imaging exam (and decide whether they’d like to do that online or by phone), choose a time and location where they’d like their exam to take place, answer pre-visit questionnaires and review documentation, and so on.

More importantly, NYU Langone patients can now access medical images via a link in their reports. This is accomplished by using Hyland Healthcare’s NilRead Enterprise Viewer, a zero-footprint solution that provides anytime, anywhere image access and viewing, integrated with Epic MyChart.

The hospital soft-launched the new experience without announcing the change. Within 24 hours, more than 952 people had accessed the solution, viewing a combined 1,728 studies. On top of that, the team received zero incident reports.

Patients, it seemed, were finding it easy and intuitive to use – and are eager to see more. And in the era of COVID-19, it’s our job to deliver.

These two sessions – as well as almost 200 others – are available for viewing for the next 60 days.

Tom Tennant

Tom Tennant

Tom Tennant is the content marketing manager for Hyland Healthcare. He joined Hyland in 2010 as its first brand journalist after far too many years in daily news and trade... read more about: Tom Tennant

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