By: Balint Bene, Founder and CEO at bene : studio
A multitude of industries have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, but none more so than healthcare. When person-to-person interaction was deemed fatally dangerous, operations had to drastically transform. The healthcare industry had to evolve into an accessible online platform almost overnight, all while remaining both user-friendly and digitally-secure.
Given these shifts, HealthTech has progressed substantially to try and fill the technological gaps. By enabling medical providers to take care of patients without being physically present, HealthTech has made medical attention in this era of non-contact possible.
Some caveats have manifested, however, as these digital transformations have shifted the medical industry to be more “on-demand”. Patients are now in the driver’s seat of their healthcare experience, which has caused many individuals to develop a new perspective on their personal health.
From this, a significant shift in the expectations patients have for their medical providers has occurred. This, in turn, has increased the need for better user experience (UX) within this online healthcare sphere. Now it’s up to the medical industry to keep up with expectations all while adapting these new technologies. Below we will outline the top three metrics that online healthcare providers should be aware of when it comes to improving a patient’s UX via online medical platforms.
How the Authenticity of Technology Can Help Retention
The products and tools that a business uses to serve patients’ health concerns online must be technologically credible.These tools should function reliably and securely, because this then reflects onto the trustworthiness of the company providing them. There are a myriad of products and tools available for online health platforms, but let’s take a look at the two most transformative for healthcare in 2021.
IoMT Helping to Expand Providers Capacities
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) became a game-changer in healthcare’s shift online. IoMT incorporates many different levels of technology to which medical data can be derived and securely shared across the web. This technology includes but is not limited to telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled medical devices, blockchain electronic health records, and online healthcare platforms.
According to a report by the Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare, about 80% of all serious medical errors involve miscommunication during transitions to different care settings. With IoMT, blunders between different healthcare professionals caring for the same patient can be avoided through a single system of connected devices.
With consistent representation of authorized data, it is possible to share patient information in real-time, where they are—safely and accurately. Personalizing and prioritizing each patient’s care across the devices that they need to monitor their health remotely, this helps to mitigate mistakes and stimulate faster diagnoses. Once information is streamlined, a company can easily organize and design its online presence so that it is more efficient, intuitive, and tailored towards a patient’s UX.
Online Healthcare Platforms and Patient Portals
One approachable way to implement technology into healthcare is by creating a synchronized and centralized software dashboard. Even back in 2015, a Black Book poll of more than 1500 healthcare stakeholders found that 83 percent of hospitals expected their CEOs, CFOs, CNOs, and CMOs to have successful health IT implementations on their resume.
Having a landing pad that allows patients to see everything from schedules and notes from appointments through to records of past caregivers up to the very minute gives them the ability to participate in and understand their health. An interactive portal for patients that allows information to be consolidated achieves efficiency of communication between providers and patients. This not only builds trust but also allows patients to have more agency. In turn, healthcare companies can look forward to improved patient retention.
Functionality: A Two Way Street
In healthtech startups and enterprises, the main focus has had to be functionality, because medical data comes with many constraints, regulations, and privacy requirements.
This is additionally coupled with complexities in data security: Over 176 million healthcare data breaches occurred between 2009 – 2017. Strewn across multiple systems with varied rules and regulations because of its sensitive nature—this health data is challenging to understand, use, share, and keep secure. Inaccessibility to medical records alongside the lack of comprehensive technology for health data makes requesting, sending, receiving, and compiling patient data a time-consuming process that often requires excessive resources.
HealthTech companies have had to focus on these aspects in their first steps of building an online platform in attempts to create a cohesive and comprehensive digital interface for both the patient and provider. This is no small feat, and has consumed much time for many healthtech companies—resulting in a lack of time to focus on UX and the customer portal.
The functionality of the platform from the customer’s side is just as important though, and also needs to be prioritized as a vital metric with online health. Patients are gaining more and more autonomy in choosing their health alternatives, and it is safe to assume that they will choose the easier and more accessible solution more often than not.
Online search drives nearly 3x’s as many visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search visitors. The healthcare consumer journey often involves extensive research on the web, and consumers evaluate numerous providers before taking action—proving the importance of UX in healthcare’s online presence.
Online healthcare platforms need to help their patients better understand the choices they are making when they are doing so on an online portal. This comes down to facilitating their understanding by making the platform’s UX simple and intuitive. Obviously this all starts with accurate data, but the presentation is also just as important—with a clean and modern web page design, premium-level brand presentation, and finally user-friendly visual options for the patient to choose from. Authentic online health solutions, even if they are transmitted in the faceless nature that is oftentimes technological communications, then seem more trustworthy.
Why Patient-to-Patient Referrals are Vital
For any product or service, new customers are often gained by a referral from an existing customer. This is especially true in the healthcare industry, because health is a sensitive subject and people want to hear from another person they trust, not a business that wants their money. This has further impact when the person and the patient that referred them share similar health challenges or conditions.
5-star service typically needs to be achieved in order to get a vote of confidence where someone feels compelled enough to recommend healthcare to others. It’s a risk for yourself when you recommend anything such as medical care because it is extremely personal, not to mention that a referral will reflect on your reputation and relationship with that person.
According to a study done by The Harvard Business Review, “forty-eight percent of our patients say physician ratings and comments provided by other patients influenced their choice of doctor.”
Improved UX will result in a patient being more likely to recommend their healthcare provider because when a patient understands how their health information is being communicated to them, they trust the business to which that information came from. That trust then transcends all the way through the line of care to all of the providers involved.
The Future of UX in Healthcare
Historically, there were fewer alternatives and choices in healthcare, and people only received the care that they had access to. Today however, patients have many choices and flexibility with many more service providers and technological capacities for health. Different insurances, financial options, and digital applications are making healthcare entirely customizable for patients. With these modern changes, health providers will need to constantly improve their overall experience, including in the online realm, to ensure the retention of patients. Online UX has evolved to be a disruptor in the healthcare industry, and from a business perspective—is the key differentiator.
Balint Bene is Founder and CEO at bene : studio, the global digital product consultancy that helps startups, enterprises, and HealthTech companies with strategy, design, and development.