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By Kelli Bravo, Global Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Pegasystems
A lot has transpired in the healthcare industry over the past 24 months, with COVID-19 at the center of many of those changes. And for healthcare organizations – from doctors’ offices to health insurers to pharmaceutical companies – staying one step ahead is key to strengthening engagement and providing exceptional patient experiences. In 2022, one big question remains: where are we headed next? Here are four predictions that will help guide organizations along their journeys into the unpredictable future:
Organizations will establish a more patient-centric approach
The healthcare industry continues to struggle from the weight of the pandemic. Hospitals are still overwhelmed, and in some areas, there is a new surge to manage with consumers scheduling preventive healthcare or elective surgeries postponed during various waves of the pandemic. At the same time, there is an expectation from consumers that healthcare experiences should continue to improve – patients need to feel as though their needs are being met throughout their course of care. This is what the retail, insurance, and banking sectors have been quietly doing for years – adopting technological innovations, digitizing their operations, and implementing connected workflows that put customer needs at the center of everything they do.
According to Pega’s 2021 Healthcare Engagement Report, a survey of more than 2,000 patients and 200 senior healthcare executives from health plans, health systems, and pharmaceutical companies, there is a significant disparity between how patients and healthcare executives perceive quality of engagement. Despite patients being more tolerant of less-than-ideal healthcare experiences due to the pandemic, 63 percent would still switch doctors due to poor communication and engagement.
We’re at an important inflection point in the healthcare industry. With significant advances in technology, payers and providers are better positioned than ever before to move toward a more digitized model that puts patients at the center of all interactions.
Patient experiences will be improved to reduce the burden on consumers
Nothing is more personal than healthcare, but instead of being able to focus on solving their health issue with the help of their care teams, many consumers still bear the brunt of navigating a very complex and often disjointed healthcare ecosystem. Out of necessity, the healthcare industry made significant strides to deliver digital experiences during the pandemic. Now, it’s time to take a step back and look at how to improve those digital experiences for patients.
More than ever, consumers expect interactions to be frictionless across their preferred methods of communication – no matter the industry they’re interacting with. To do so, the healthcare industry needs to ensure they have the right tools in place to optimize patient access points and enhance self-service options for better engagement – accessibility and ease-of-use are crucial. Many healthcare organizations go amiss by thinking that their website is the only digital front door for patients, but today’s consumer needs more. Healthcare organizations will be implementing broader digital solutions that fit into a greater patient engagement strategy, such as mobile apps, chatbots, voice AI, SMS, emails, portals, and many more.
It’s time to rethink healthcare engagement to drive improved personalization for all patients. There’s still a gap that needs to be filled when it comes to providing seamless digital service experiences for patients, and we’ll see many organizations trying to fill that gap in 2022.
Telehealth will become integral to care delivery
Though telehealth services and applications aren’t new to healthcare, Covid-19 accelerated their growth and adoption for care delivery. During the height of the pandemic, telehealth provided safe access and positive support for patients. In addition, it managed specialty and routine care issues to help significantly boost care delivery and quality. It also provided necessary care to those who needed crucial mental health support. Once consumers realized the convenience of telehealth appointments, the industry understood the need to accommodate this option into their longer-term plans. Telehealth will continue to become more commonplace, with more patients than ever before using video calls for health visits and chronic care support. Organizations need to ensure they have the infrastructure and technology to accommodate this growing telehealth demand in 2022 and beyond.
Technology usage to connect data and experiences will be accelerated
The healthcare industry still is challenged with many siloed experiences across a single organization – including members with insurance questions, authorized caregiver requests, patients living with chronic disease, and more. Additionally, the shift to digital records has created an explosion of data that many organizations struggle to manage. These shifts have surfaced new challenges to combine multiple data sources and take appropriate action on consumers’ channel of choice.
Healthcare organizations must use technology to improve personalization and provide more holistic customer views for tailored care, service, and back-office processing. Organizations that take a cloud-based approach will unlock the power of their data and benefit from its full potential. They will make real-time decisions around care and population health gaps, gain access to better patient and member views, and improve clinical trials.
In 2022, innovation is going to be a critical strategy component. This accelerated view of technology enhances how healthcare organizations can serve patients and members, and personalize care to improve overall health. Healthcare is all about connecting consumers to the right care and combining information from pharma to provider to payer to patient to member. These connections come down to one-to-one engagement, which is why it’s essential to provide personalized, prioritized, and preemptive healthcare. As customers comfort levels with these approaches increase, organizations have an opportunity to introduce new proactive ways to engage with healthcare consumers that simplify healthcare delivery and drive better outcomes.
About the author: As Global Vice President of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Pegasystems, Kelli Bravo helps healthcare and life sciences organizations develop digital transformation and engagement strategies that build relationships, simplify operations, and improve the way healthcare is delivered.
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