The healthcare industry deserves credit for accelerating its adoption of digital technologies since the start of the COVID pandemic. Otherwise slow to respond, healthcare took up the technology mantle when shutdowns left doctor’s offices closed and hospitals limiting admissions. But there is still room for growth, especially in digital engagement.
Digital engagement in healthcare focuses on three primary areas:
- Patient engagement
- Marketing engagement
- Electronic health record (EHR) engagement.
In all three cases, the audiences are different. However, the goals are more similar than they appear. The idea behind digital engagement is to promote interaction between parties using the internet and the digital technologies it affords.
1. Patient Engagement
Patient engagement got a significant boost from the use of telehealth systems at the height of the pandemic. With doctor’s offices remaining closed and hospitals only performing medically necessary procedures, patients still wanting to visit with their healthcare providers had to do so via telehealth.
Their exposure to digital technologies for healthcare delivery has struck a chord. According to a recently released study, 95% of America’s health system leaders acknowledge that utilizing patient engagement technology improves the patient experience. Some 65% also say that their patients are now asking for the technology.
That is the good news. The bad news is that the pandemic caught us off guard. Telehealth systems kept things going during the shutdown, but they were far from ideal in terms of performance. Now it is time to make telehealth systems better.
2. Marketing Engagement
Marketing in the healthcare sector still isn’t as digitally heavy as other sectors. Healthcare marketers are still learning how to deliver the right message through social media, non-traditional media platforms, mobile apps, and SEO strategies.
More importantly, they are struggling to measure digital engagement. iMedical Data is a technology company that offers healthcare marketers a number of tools to both facilitate and measure digital engagement. They say the challenge facing marketers now is figuring out how to use the data they gather.
iMedical Data also says that marketers need better data in order to engage customers more effectively. First-person data supported by sophisticated analysis and experience-based insights is what marketers need.
3. EHR Engagement
Perhaps the toughest sell of all is EHR engagement. EHR systems should, in theory, facilitate communication between healthcare providers, patients, insurance companies, etc. They should streamline both delivery and payment systems so that everyone involved is on the same page. Right now, that is not happening.
Proprietary systems unable to effectively communicate is the chief reason EHRs are not living up to their promises. But there is a more serious problem: healthcare providers are not engaged with their EHR systems. They don’t like using them, so they don’t put as much energy into making the best of them.
There is no shortage of doctors and nurses pulling their hair out in frustration over difficult-to-use EHR software. One of the biggest complaints is having to spend more time meeting software requirements than actually helping patients. It is not a good place for doctors and nurses to be.
One way to better engage healthcare providers is to change the model. Rather than EHR software being designed based on a developer’s point of view, it should be designed around how doctors and nurses do their jobs. Developers should adapt to them rather than requiring them to adapt to the software.
Digital technologies are changing the way healthcare is delivered. As digital adoption grows, healthcare should become more efficient and streamlined. In the short term, the emphasis should be on improving digital engagement among patients and providers alike.