Technology’s Role in Improving the Patient Experience

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Re-imagining the doctor’s appointment

These days, almost anything we want is a tap or click away. Thanks to ride sharing, grocery delivery and online reservations, the on-demand world we live in has changed our expectations as a society.

Yet, as more and more industries modernize, healthcare remains behind and fails to meet today’s standards for convenience, information and speed. A recent survey report, “No Room For Waiting,” reveals this gap between the consumer expectation and the actual patient experience.1 To understand how the patient experience measures up, the survey explored the different stages of the patient experience, from symptom check to follow-up.

Unnecessary Stress

The report revealed that 88% of doctor’s appointments are still scheduled by phone, subject to wait time and potential back-and-forth. When speaking to the receptionist, 70% of respondents explained their appointment purpose with the hope that their information was accurately captured and communicated to their doctor. When patients arrive, 85% reported waiting between 10 and 30 minutes to see their doctor.

All of these inconveniences create unnecessary stress for the patient. In fact, the common pain point throughout our report was fairly simple, yet quite meaningful: 63% reported that their biggest stressor is waiting and all of the uncertainty that it causes. Studies have proven that stress can weaken the body and immune system, which is the last thing anyone needs as they address their health.2

It is important to find a way to reduce the peripheral stress associated with the basic doctor’s appointment to provide a more personalized, human experience and deliver better outcomes. While the digital health market is growing, demonstrating a shift towards electronic health records and digital tools, these various health care experiences remain disparate and disconnected. The key to reducing stress in the average patient experience is to connect all of the different steps to ensure that accurate information is captured and communicated at every step of the process.

What’s the possibility of re-imagining the doctor’s appointment experience? Could we eliminate the stress of waiting and improving communication?

We think it’s possible. Our creative team developed a conceptual service that re-imagines the average doctor’s visit by replacing the typical waiting room experience with the living room. This design concept provides digital tools, a mobile app and in-person experience that connects all the information needed for a more comfortable experience.

Our prototype makes it easy for patients to speak with a healthcare professional, via text or video call, to discuss symptoms and schedule a home visit. Payment and insurance information can be stored in a patient’s account so there are no additional forms to fill out. Doctor’s notes can also be saved and accessed, making the prototype a one-stop shop for your medical information. Finally, the platform allows appointment follow-up to be quick and painless as nurses can reach out via text to explain improvements patients should be seeing and share personalized wellness based tips.

Six Steps

In our recent survey, we explored patient insights throughout the doctor’s appointment experience and identified common six steps.

  1. The symptom check. With the wealth of information available on the internet, we were not surprised to learn that 70% researched their medical conditions online before calling a doctor or going in for an appointment.
  2. Consumers need to make the appointment. Despite the fact that one in three millennials prefer to use their health care provider’s website to schedule an appointment, 88% schedule via phone. This is in stark contrast to the now-common practice of booking everything from restaurant reservations to flights online.
  3. The office visit. Illness may not wait, but patients certainly do, with 85% waiting between 10 and 30 minutes past their scheduled appointment time to see their doctor; more than half wish they had access to estimated wait times through a screen in the waiting room.
  4. Another breakdown in the patient journey is communicating the purpose for the doctor’s visit and checking in to the appointment. Only 34% are confident that the person behind the front desk knows who they are and the reason for their visit.
  5. When checking out, less than half of the respondents are clear about how much they had to pay upon leaving the doctor’s office.
  6. Finally, we confirmed that once a patient leaves the office, accessing their doctor for follow-up information isn’t always easy which could prove troublesome. Almost half of respondents said they would like to have the follow up information or communication via a secure web or mobile portal.

It’s time for the healthcare experience to match the consumer-grade experiences that people expect today. By putting people first and incorporating efficient communication channels, the patient experience will evolve to be a less stressful experience.

References

  1. “No Room for Waiting.” Sequence.
  2. “Stress Weakens the Immune System.” American Psychological Association.
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About Author

Jojo Roy
Jojo Roy

Jojo is CEO of Sequence. He has been driving growth and innovation for 20 years. He started his career as an economist in the federal government, where he awarded funds to companies conducting cutting edge R&D. He’s been a product manager, chief strategist, vice president of sales, vice president of marketing and start-up CEO. Whether it's at global giants like IBM, Flextronics and Aricent, lauded innovation firm frog design, or here at Sequence, Jojo helps convert user needs, business realities and new technologies into meaningful and differentiated products and experiences.

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