Developing an efficient digital structure to manage the patient journey takes work.
Healthcare providers must analyse processes, understand the pain points coming from the physical world, learn about empowerment levels and patients’ digital literacy, and trust technology providers.
The increasing volume of accurate health data, the opportunity to remotely access care services, and the rise of more connected and aware patients have helped healthcare institutions to speed up the application of digital processes to evolve the traditional patient journey.
Developing a holistic patient journey
Patients want to stay informed, involved and aware of each step of their treatment pathway.
As a result, healthcare facilities are under pressure to adopt a holistic and patient-centric approach and foster the learning path to digitalisation for patients.
Moreover, digital technology has activated new touchpoints and communication channels among healthcare facilities, doctors, and patients that help improve the quality of care, tear down geographical barriers and enhance immediate and efficient communication.
The pillars on which the digital patient journey relies are direct communication between doctors and patients, easy and efficient access to care services, fast and flawless data exchange and interoperability, patient empowerment and technology excellence.
Below is a more detailed outline of how each pillar can positively impact the patient journey if addressed correctly.
Direct communication between doctors and patients
The way in which patients and doctors communicate with each other is rapidly evolving.
The advent of instant messaging platforms and social networks opened new and disruptive opportunities for communication.
However, such rapid and informal channels require adopting tools that guarantee information security and patient privacy while also ensuring effective consent management.
Patients and doctors should have the opportunity to increase their level of contact, not only during hospital visits but throughout their treatment period.
This approach means it is possible to consistently increase the efficiency of the care pathway and improve the quality of the patient journey.
Easy and efficient access to care services
With digital transformation, people are more connected and ready to leverage innovative services to improve the accessibility of healthcare services.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, just a few care facilities and hospitals were equipped to offer digital services to patients.
Nowadays, as people are used to interacting with healthcare practitioners and doctors remotely, they want flawless access to services such as remote appointments and digital healthcare records.
Furthermore, digitalisation brings new interactive opportunities for patients who rely on high accessibility to follow their patient journey, from onboarding to treatment monitoring.
For example, visually impaired people can autonomously interact with their patient journey through a single point of access thanks to built-in accessibility functionalities.
Data exchange and interoperability
The patient journey is a long process. It starts with onboarding, followed by the first visit, then a treatment plan and follow-up appointments.
During this pathway, relevant health and anagraphic data is collected and analysed by doctors and management for different purposes.
As data is becoming essential in many industries, healthcare organisations should embrace a data-driven approach to offer patients an efficient, high-quality care journey.
Care pathways are often complicated. Documentation central to a patient’s care is not easily shared among specialists.
Creating a patient journey that integrates and interoperates data from multiple sources and communicates with several stakeholders can support doctors and physicians to make the right decision as they have full visibility of a patient’s condition.
To reach full digital integration, healthcare facilities need to work on the following levels:
- First-level integration with existing internal systems (bookings, appointment management, anagraphics, health records)
- Integration with third-party providers
- Integration with regional and national health systems
Patients are becoming more active in choosing their preferred healthcare facility or specialist, leaving the passive role of just accepting treatment.
For this reason, healthcare providers should focus on becoming more oriented to people’s needs and improving their retention processes.
New digital tools supplied by hospitals and care providers can help patients become more informed about their health and subsequent treatment.
Empowerment also means involvement.
People are more aware of their health status and want to help doctors build the best treatment pathway.
Digital technologies can create the conditions for making this valuable interaction possible.
For example, through virtual primary care applications, patients can state their symptoms (i.e., headaches) and receive real-time treatment options from their doctor.
Technology excellence and the adoption of new digital solutions
New digital technologies and cloud computing are disrupting the traditional processes of the healthcare sector.
Organisations and providers should know that buying an off-the-shelf solution is not enough anymore.
Technology becomes an asset for creating a healthcare ecosystem that brings patients to the centre and provides personalised services to improve the quality of care.
Cloud-based software suites help build a patient-centric platform to support doctors, patients, and administrative staff, eliminating pain points and making the patient journey more efficient.
Composable modules can be combined to meet different needs and offer a clear patient pathway for even the most acute and chronic conditions.
What a non-holistic approach to the patient journey looks like
A hospital needs to digitalise documentation for ease of sharing among different departments to guarantee patient information is always up to date. To do this, they purchase a SaaS management tool.
After a few months, they find patients want to book and attend appointments remotely, so they look for another tool dedicated to this feature.
In this scenario, most healthcare providers would purchase two different solutions from two separate providers, which leads to integration and personalisation issues.
However, adopting an all-in-one platform that leverages cloud-based technology and provides services as modules can help healthcare facilities address multiple individual needs.
Solutions that are composable by design allow a new service or module to be added to the ecosystem at any given time, with the highest level of personalisation and seamless integration.
The future of the patient journey
Healthcare services exist to help, support, and take care of people. However, like all sectors, it must evolve and invest in clinical knowledge, facilities, and technology.
In today’s dynamic and interconnected world, conceiving care pathways that avoid leveraging digital applications is virtually impossible.
Healthcare professionals, patients and administrative staff should embrace digital transformation to build an effective and efficient patient journey.
It is not enough to buy off-the-shelf solutions to tackle problems singularly.
The healthcare sector should adopt a holistic approach and focus on building personalised care experiences for all patients.