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In the News: MedCity News

As more people engage with healthcare organizations online and via digital channels than ever before, these individuals are voicing opinions about patient technology expectations. Highly regarded health IT research firm KLAS released its Patient Perspectives on Patient Engagement Technology 2022 report, and its data reveals there is still work to be done to meet patients’ needs. Fortunately, automated technology that drives streamlined, digital patient outreach is poised to bridge this gap.

What patients want

Today’s consumers are used to actionable, convenient, digital tools that make their lives easier, and the same is true for healthcare. Online functions like requesting prescription refills, self-scheduling an appointment and accessing links or educational resources before a doctor’s visit are in high demand. For example, according to the report, 67% of patients want the ability to self-schedule appointments online, yet only 37% are currently able to do so. They also want communication options that feel familiar and don’t require face-to-face or phone interaction, like texting.

How automated patient engagement can bridge the gap

KLAS explains that survey respondents prioritize technology that has a direct effect on their ability to receive and manage their healthcare. Yet hospital and health system staff are already overwhelmed, and these organizations must determine how to deliver tools that meet patient technology expectations without further contributing to workload or complexity for their staff. Automation, according to the report, may be the solution.

Automated patient engagement started out as basic appointment reminders sent in advance of a doctor’s visit. Since then, it’s evolved into streamlined, multi-channel (text, voice, email, and live chat) communications that encourage bidirectional interaction between patients and their care teams. These messages can cover a broad scope of healthcare needs and services, like self-scheduling and self-rescheduling appointments, pre-visit instructions, or other exchanges that close care gaps and improve the patient experience.

Adoption by health systems

The report’s recommendations to offer multimodal outreach and bidirectional communication align well with automated patient engagement technology as one strategy to meet patient technology expectations. And while many health systems are certainly using technology to engage with individuals, existing tools in place (like patient portals) aren’t always the right fit for certain tasks because they can be difficult to navigate and require logins and passwords.

In contrast, text-based self-scheduling and self-rescheduling can be accomplished on mobile devices, like smartphones, that people already use every day. This approach works best with deep EHR integration, allowing platforms to read and write data to and from patients within the system.

Health systems should consider this automated engagement approach, as recommended by KLAS, as part of new and different technology that can meet patient needs. For more about how this strategy can power digital, self-service functions, bolster telehealth and virtual care, as well as broaden multichannel communications with patients, check out the full article on MedCity News.