Building an efficient digital structure to manage the patient journey is not easy. Healthcare providers need to analyze processes, understand the pain points coming from the physical world, learn about empowerment levels and patients’ digital literacy, and trust technology providers.
However, the increasing volume of accurate health data, the opportunity to remotely access care services, and the rising of more connected and aware patients brought healthcare organizations to speed up the application of digital principles to evolve the traditional patient journey.
The challenges in building a holistic patient journey
Patients want to stay informed, involved, and aware of each step of their care pathway, becoming an active part of the caring process. In actively involving patients, the main challenges are adopting a holistic and patient-centric approach and fostering the learning path to digitalization for patients. Moreover, digital technology activated new touchpoints and communication channels among health facilities, doctors, and patients that help improve the therapy quality, tear down geographical barriers, and enhance immediate and efficient communication.
Hence, 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;
- Technology excellence and composable approach.
Let’s see in detail how each pillar can positively affect the patient journey if addressed correctly.
Direct communication between doctors and patients
The relationship between patient and doctor is rapidly evolving and, with this, the way they communicate with each other. The advent of instant messaging platforms and social networks opened new and disruptive opportunities for connection. Such rapid and informal communication channels, however, require adopting tools that guarantee information security and patient privacy while also creating a system of consent management that is effective for people’s different needs.
Patients and doctors should have the opportunity to widen the occasion of contact, not only during the visits but also during the therapy monitoring period. In this way, 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 the 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 structures and hospitals were equipped to offer digital services to patients. Nowadays, as people are used to interacting with health facilities and doctors remotely, they request flawless access to services such as appointment booking and document consultation.
Moreover, digitalization brings new interactive opportunities for patients who rely on high accessibility to follow their patient journey, from onboarding to therapy monitoring. For instance, visually impaired people can autonomously set up their patient journey through a single point of access, thanks to built-in accessibility functionalities.
Data exchange and interoperability
A Patient Journey winds a long process. It starts with patient onboarding, then the first visit, and after that, with therapy definition and follow-ups. During this pathway, relevant health and anagraphic data are collected and analyzed by doctors and management for different purposes. As data is becoming essential in many industries, healthcare organizations should embrace a data-driven approach to offer patients an efficient and high-quality care journey.
Care pathways are often not easy to follow since information and documentation are not shareable with ease among the specialists. Creating a patient journey that integrates and interoperates data from multiple sources and communicates with several stakeholders can enhance the therapy quality of the patients. To reach full integration, you need to work on different levels:
- First-level integration with internal systems of record (Bookings, appointment management, anagraphics, Health records);
- Integration with third-party providers;
- Integration with Regional Health System and Italian “FSE”.
Patients are becoming more active in choosing their favorite health facility and doctor specialist, leaving the passive role of just accepting therapy. For this reason, healthcare providers should focus on becoming more oriented to people’s needs, and improving their retention processes. New digital tools provided by hospitals and care providers can help patients to become informed about their health and the therapy to follow.
Empowerment also means involvement: people are aware of their health status and want to help doctors build the best therapy pathway. Digital technologies can help to create the conditions for making this valuable interaction possible. For instance, through virtual primary care applications, patients can state their health conditions (i.e., headaches) by receiving real-time therapy suggestions from doctors that are notified of the current health issue.
Technology excellence and composable approach
New digital technologies and cloud computing are disrupting the healthcare industry after changing the traditional processes of banking, insurance, retail, and transportation. Healthcare organizations and providers should know that buying an off-the-shelf solution is not enough anymore. Technology becomes an asset to leverage for creating a healthcare ecosystem that brings patients to the center and provides personalized services to improve care quality.
Cloud-based software suites such as Mia-Care can help healthcare structures to build a patient-centric health platform to support doctors, patients, and administrative staff overtaking process pain points and making the patient journey more efficient. The best approach is to leverage composable modules for different needs by combining them to offer a flawless care pathway and patient journeys for acute and chronic conditions.
What a non-holistic approach to the digital patient journey looks like
A hospital needs to digitalize the documentation making it shareable among different departments to guarantee the information is always up to date, so they purchase a SaaS to achieve it. After a few months, they understand that patients are looking for a way to book and perform visits remotely, so they look for a SaaS dedicated to this feature.
Most healthcare providers would buy two SaaS in two distinct periods, and the two SaaS can probably come from different technology providers. This inconsistency would bring integration problems and personalization issues. However, adopting a comprehensive health platform that leverages cloud-based technology and provides services as modules can help these companies to address upcoming needs. Thanks to such digital platforms, you can rely on solutions that are composable by design, Indeed, whenever you need to add a new service, all you need to do is add a new module to the ecosystem, with the highest control on personalization and flawless integration.
The healthcare industry was born to help, support, and take care of people. To achieve this goal, care providers need to invest in clinical knowledge, care facilities, and technology. Nowadays, in a highly dynamic and connected world, it is impossible to conceive care pathways that avoid leveraging digital applications to deliver adequate levels of care. Healthcare professionals, as well as patients and administrative staff, should embrace digital transformation and help each other build a quality patient journey that is managed efficiently through digital health platforms. It is not enough to buy off-the-shelf SaaS to tackle problems singularly. Healthcare companies have to aim at embracing a more holistic approach by focusing on building a personalized care experience for all patients.
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