What do patients expect from their healthcare providers?

With the rapid digitization of the healthcare industry around the world, the expectation from digital healthcare facilities has risen sharply. This, coupled with the ongoing pandemic, has led healthcare providers to attempt to answer the question: what defines a great healthcare experience, from the perspective of a patient?

At a time where global investments are being made in healthcare applications and technology, an understanding of the expectations from the industry would go a long way towards the establishment of clear guidelines and processes that drive the industry forward.

What a Patient Really Wants

Over several surveys conducted in the recent past, researchers have been able to narrow down the top five patient experience preferences. Top on the list of those expectations is healthcare data security. With increased awareness about data value, patients are demanding greater priority for healthcare data security. Besides this, patients expect personalized healthcare, with younger generations rooting for emotional support from their healthcare providers. 

With healthcare applications rapidly moving online, patients are now expecting better performance from these digital platforms. Integrated, umbrella access to multiple features such as appointment booking, insurance, laboratory test results and such only serve to boost patient experience and make digital healthcare facilities more reliable.

Healthcare Data Protection

Faced with multi-fold threats to private health data today, healthcare providers are painfully aware that healthcare data security is no easy task.  Ensuring that healthcare data access is granted only to authorized persons and data transmission is handled with utmost security, while providing a satisfactory patient experience, mandates that policymakers put together a strong set of robust practices in healthcare applications, that will ensure maximum protection for patient data.

Hospital software features should include patient portals in their portfolio, as these help to enhance patient experience and ensure a strong channel of communication between the patient and their doctor. Using a unique ID and password for data protection, a hospital system can provide patients with the convenience of their own portal to perform functions such as viewing health records, lab results, order medication, print or save electronic copies of records and much more, without ever stepping out of their homes.

Digital Communications

Studies show that the majority of patients are coming to expect more responsive digital communications between them and their healthcare provider. In terms of consistency, the average patient expects that their online communication experience will match or better their in-person experience. Healthcare providers must understand that the expectation here is not merely that digital communication be made available; these digital platforms must exceed the corresponding in-person experience for a patient.

Consistency of response over digital healthcare facilities, proactiveness of practitioners in reaching out to patients, the quality of the digital connection – all these play a huge role in determining patient loyalty. Data shows that patients are likely to never return to a healthcare application that they are disappointed in, especially if they are from the baby boomer generation and beyond.

Virtual Technology

Online consultations, spurred by the pandemic, have driven up the expectation for a number of virtual technologies not seen before. Wearable fitness technology is now an integral part of the healthcare industry, thanks to patients who expect to be able to monitor their vital signs on their own.  This accounts for the more than tripling of the use of wearable technology. 

Besides wearables, patient expectations about EHRs have also changed.  Patients now expect better accessibility to, and timeliness of, their EHR data. Possessing the ability to streamline healthcare workflows and improve patient experience, EHR is a key expectation from a patient’s point of view, enabling better informed decisions, reducing treatment delays and improving crucial healthcare data access.

Conclusion

Gone are the days when a patient blindly followed the advice of their medical practitioner. As digital healthcare facilities continue to improve, patient expectations rise accordingly.  Achieving a satisfactory balance between patient experience, healthcare data access and industry policy is key to a future where patient-centric healthcare can be delivered, while at the same time benefitting the industry as well.

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