Digital health communications — dilemmas and perspectives
Health systems across the U.S. face resource and technology challenges fueled by mergers and acquisitions, the shortage of healthcare workers, the pandemic, and patient needs for digital healthcare.
A recent healthcare summit in Philadelphia, PA, brought together CEOs from four of the region’s largest health systems — Temple Health, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Jefferson, and ChristianaCare to discuss the state of healthcare. The leaders shared their perspectives on the industry’s rapid evolution and how they’re moving forward. In this blog post, we’ll share some key discussion points from the summit and other relevant research.
Health care needs flexible work options
Every CEO at the summit agreed the costs and shortages of labor are one of the major issues they’re facing. The pandemic, remote, and flexible work opportunities have given employees new options pulling them away from hospitals and the typical 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. or 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. workday. Dr. Joseph Cacchione, CEO of Jefferson, commented, “In healthcare, we have to be more flexible. We grew up where everybody went to work — eight hours a day. That world has changed forever, and healthcare must keep up.”
To combat the national shortage of healthcare workers and keep hold of current staff, CHOP has taken innovative steps to promote a positive working environment for employees by hiring a chief wellness officer and practicing mindfulness in the workplace.
AI and other tech innovations can also help by handling routine tasks instead of a highly paid nurse, leaving critical personal patient care as their focus.
ChristianaCare has worked extraordinarily hard over the past two years on joint ventures to launch virtual health requiring data-sharing agreements and operations. They have deployed three robotic hospital helpers to handle non-clinical chores like delivering lab specimens, medications, and supplies so nurses can focus on patient care — changing the environment for bedside caregivers.
Positive impacts of virtual care
Bringing technology into patient homes has positively impacted ChristianaCare by using technology to grow its hospital-at-home program. People receive hospital-grade care in the comfort and safety of their homes rather than being admitted. CEO Dr. Janice Nevin comments, “The patient experience is extraordinary…and our quality metrics are outstanding.”
The program combines virtual and in-person care provided by a team of physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and others. Virtual technology and home health equipment ensure round-the-clock monitoring and care that mirrors a traditional hospital setting. Combining the comforts of home with digital healthcare communications elevates the customer experience.
Digital communication and connectivity
Globally, digital healthcare is growing by 25%, accelerated by the COVID pandemic, with 39% of the population using digital health tools. Governments are easing regulations, and major health providers are becoming more tech-savvy, paving the way to continued demand for these services.
There are 350,000+ health-related mobile applications available to consumers in top app stores worldwide. While most are general wellness apps, the number of health condition management apps is increasing.
Communication and connectivity are paramount in delivering healthcare digitally. Several tools must work in sync for good health outcomes and patient engagement. Being available, secure, and providing speedy resolution are the top three demands of digital healthcare.
Some of the ways healthcare providers are innovating to adjust to the post-COVID landscape and provide digital services include:
- Mobile apps
- Well-timed text messages
- Telemedicine scheduling and remote care
- Two-way communication tools
Customer care is the mission
According to McKinsey, the primary goal of providing digital health services is to improve patient outcomes and well-being. Keeping up with the competition, retaining customers, and reducing costs are important but secondary. Removing admin tasks, automating digital care, and 24x7 digital tools are key drivers to ease the workload on professionals, allowing them to focus on patient care.
Customer engagement is critical for healthcare providers to understand patients. More and more patients expect virtual health services from their doctors to improve the healthcare experience.
The importance of communications in healthcare and healthcare messaging is clear - 77 percent of patients said online appointment booking or cancellation drives their choice of a healthcare provider. Ninety-two percent of physicians have seen a reduction in admin costs and time thanks to conversational messaging.
Keeping up with digital demand
Healthcare companies must develop stronger connections with the communities they serve — in the methods used and the tools patients demand. The unprecedented impact of the pandemic on health systems drove massive innovation for communications in digital healthcare and is continually evolving.
Personalized, conversational communications with voice and video calls for telemedicine, text messaging for appointments and lab results alerts, apps for access and health information, and email messages for doctor-patient interaction can truly improve patient care, enhance customer experience, and lead to more positive outcomes.
Supporting digital healthcare
Sinch’s HIPAA accreditation provides the confidence and security healthcare organizations need to manage voice, Teams calling with Operator Connect, SIP trunking, verification, and fax services — a complete voice solution from a single provider with unsurpassed quality, a single connection, and limitless reach.
Sinch provides digital communications infrastructure to governments and health authorities worldwide across the most secure and reliable super network. The Customer Communications Cloud powers meaningful conversations between businesses and their customers, healthcare entities, and patients. Check out how Florida Orthopaedic Institute and Spruce Health use Sinch to power their communications and get in touch for more information!