Digitization of Patient Experiences Helps Future Proof Healthcare in a Post-Covid World

Male doctor listening to patient during telemedicine session

Cool Photos from Depositphotos

Matthew Patrick Tobias

With the industry still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, Matthew Patrick Tobias, Healthcare Program Manager at Bottle Rocket, discusses the importance of personalized tech-enabled care.

Major global events have unforeseeable impacts. On September 12th, 2001 no one was thinking “I better get used to taking off my shoes in the airport.” Now an entire generation exists in the United States that has known no other way. As we begin to maybe possibly think about emerging from the pandemic what will be the new taking off our shoes? In healthcare – and perhaps most industries – it’s safe to say that the digital front door has swung wide open and there’s no turning back.

Patients and Providers embraced digital tools like Telehealth visits out of necessity, but studies show that usage leveled out a rate 38 times higher than February 2020.  The generation being born now will know no other way.  Patient preferences are clear, but what of our Providers? New research finds that a record number of them are leaving the sector: 47 percent of U.S. healthcare workers plan to leave their jobs by 2025. The future of the healthcare system depends on efficiencies to make up this shortfall. To tackle these challenges, healthcare systems are turning to tech-enabled care to support patients and clinician workflow.

Electronic Health Records (EHR) dipped their toes in direct patient interaction via patient portals prior to the pandemic, but even with the EHR market expected to reach $38 billion by 2025 they have their work cut out for them if they truly desire to pivot to patient-facing experiences. Telehealth consumers now expect every system to have a “digital front door” that brings all of their digital experiences together seamlessly– not the limited, kludgy functionality that’s grown from clinician and business-facing technology up until this point.  Low-cost virtual-first health plans are gaining steam. It is no secret that today’s patients-turned-consumers are expecting personalized digital experiences when accessing care and advice through digital technology, but patients are still left wanting: only 31 percent of young adults are fully satisfied with the state of telehealth in the US.

The healthcare industry has made great strides in digitization, but it is still not sufficient to satisfy ever-demanding patients. Existing competitors and an ever-increasing number of new entrants (Amazon, CVS, Walmart) are ratcheting up baseline expectations. Providers must look to technology to deliver home-based care, improve real-time decision support, and create holistic treatment plans if they want to grow and maintain their patient base.  

High engagement through home-based care

The value of digital front doors cannot be undermined.  The rapid adoption of telehealth and asynchronous communication allowed a continuous delivery of patient care during the pandemic. The digital front door allows you to extend your relationship with the patient beyond the primary care office. Simple, but effective digital nudges, such as going for a walk, taking medications on time, or checking blood sugar levels are becoming important in supporting patients through their healthcare journey, while allowing for the curation of more personal patient profiles. This type of often-overlooked wellness information is key to fruitful communication between providers and patients. 

At the same time, with the introduction of tech solutions in patient monitoring, frictionless communication between the care provider, the device, and the patient is key in providing real-time and engaging care. Disjointed workflows, relying on patients to log into multiple systems where they receive conflicting communication, detract from the seamless patient experience patients crave.

Better data insights as third-party solutions

Many digital solutions were stood up quickly out of necessity during the pandemic without a strategic plan for collecting and analyzing the constant influx of data from disparate systems.  EHRs provide data around patient demographics, progress notes, medical history, and diagnoses, but they are not sufficient to derive actionable insights and facilitate real-time remote patient monitoring and the support needed.

Patient care is being enhanced by real-time data generated by a web of devices and even the patients themselves which can support providers to make quick clinical decisions. Providers with a competitive edge are relying on third-party, custom-developed analytics to sift through the Terabytes of information for predictive insights from this enhanced patient monitoring. This new paradigm allows for earlier interventions that prevent costly visits to the Emergency Department. 

Advanced remote care: the wider picture

The shift to ‘whole-person care’ is crucial to achieve the healthcare triple (or quadruple or even quintuple) aim.  Advanced remote care, packaged in engaging digital solutions helps providers deliver holistic treatment plans in which physical and mental healthcare are integrated. Digital front doors can add much-needed information on social determinants of health, such as food security or education. By integrating these factors into patient profiles, the interaction between mental and physical health can be monitored on a case-by-case basis, moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach. Holistic treatment plans are the future of the healthcare.  Digital tools implemented thoughtfully clear the path for effective holistic treatment plans.

The pandemic was a catalyst for rapid adoption of digital tools in healthcare. Staffing shortages are exacerbating the need for more efficient clinician workflows.  The emerging generations’ new normal has arrived.  Here, home-based care with holistic care plans, made possible through personalized digital experiences are the key to patient retention and future-proofing the healthcare industry.

About Matthew Patrick Tobias, Healthcare Program Manager

Before serving as the Healthcare Program Manager at Bottle Rocket Matt held many Fill-in-the-blank Specialist titles at places like SCL Health (nee Exempla), Children’s Hospital Colorado, Catholic Health Initiatives, and Epic Systems Corporation.  Despite being labeled a Specialist he has worked in and around Software, Experience, Population Health, Analytics, Regulatory Programs, Project Management, Workflow Design, Interoperability, and anything else healthcare could throw his way.  He hopes to one day include Ironicist in his title.