COVID-19 created waves in healthcare that will ripple for years and undoubtedly change the way the industry is perceived by payers, providers, and patients. It has rushed in emerging technologies, highlighted glaring inefficiencies, and gave reason for thousands of people to exit, and enter healthcare. As we look forward to the year ahead, here are five trends to watch.
1. To meet increasing expectations of healthcare consumers, organizations need to deploy a digital front door
Today, healthcare is driven, in part, by choice. Whether a patient is searching for a new provider, or a member is trying to navigate health plans, a positive and efficient customer experience carries significant weight. A digital front door strategy can dramatically improve overall experience. It allows patients and members to access information, scheduling, support, and care from the palm of their hand. Implementing a digital front door is all about meeting the patient where they are. A successful digital front door offering provides simplicity, convenience, and accessibility. Across industries, these offerings are a means for retention, satisfaction, and growth. A digital front door, depending on the system deploying it, will look different, but should include omnichannel engagement that incorporates patient and member preferences, automation that reduces low-value and high-effort tasks to promote efficiency, and technology touchpoints that are both easy to use and familiar across demographics.
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2. Telehealth will no longer be on the fringe of healthcare
Most patients and members, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, had minimal if any telehealth interaction. In some spheres, these services were seen as concierge care. In others, they were used as a glorified email between patients and their healthcare team. From March 2020 through today, telehealth has captured a growing preference in mode of patient to provider interactions. The way telehealth is used will continue to change, but the concept should be considered a tool in a health system’s tool belt, not an either-or mode of care. Many specific therapies can be handled in a virtual setting, but it is not a catch-all for modern healthcare. One area that will continue to see substantial traction in telehealth is mental healthcare. Virtual care in mental health will continue to address the significant shortage and availability of mental health providers and also, hopefully continue to reduce the stigma around seeking care for mental health issues as it enables patients to conduct visits on the go, or at home.
3. Healthcare leaders will focus energy and resources on recovery, restoration, and revitalization
From recuperating millions in revenue lost through 2020 and 2021, to maintaining a trusting relationship with the public, healthcare leaders will be pressured this year to have clear, honest, and community-focused solutions for problems that have been circulating for years. From the start of the pandemic, people across the globe have been challenged with navigating not only massive healthcare systems, but conflicting information coming from resources and organizations they trust. Scandals, political divide, varying levels of mandates, discussions on personal and communal healthcare choices have, to some degree, weighed on the minds of us all. COVID-19 has physically affected the world’s population but has also pressed on emotions and what it means to be human. There is a palpable air of fear, frustration, suspicion, and confusion. People are burnt out, but so are those treating them. Healthcare workers have been pushed to places they never thought possible. In the past year, they have gone through moments of heroism, criticism, and stigmatization. For those on the frontlines of the pandemic, moral injury is an everyday occurrence. Healthcare leaders will be called to answer to the disparities among varying demographics with respect to both acute and chronic care, the degree of burnout healthcare workers continue to face, and the ability to provide compassionate, patient-centered care following COVID-19.
4. Seamless healthcare experiences will depend on a 360-degree view of the patient
Providers and payers will need to understand the next chapter in healthcare will not just be the bells and whistles of new technology, but the ability for that technology to intersect with an individual patient or member journey. Patients and members want to be known and valued by their healthcare providers and plan. Storing astronomical amounts of patient information on secure and efficient platforms is not enough. For the information to be valuable to those reading on the other side of the screen, it needs to be unified and scaled to allow insights into an individual patient, and how that patient fits into their healthcare system. It needs to be able to forecast indicators for admission, behaviors, and practices that might contribute to chronic disease and additional healthcare expenditure. The tools need to be proactive, but also recognize the past. We will continue to see healthcare systems and healthcare technology push for services that not only demonstrate efficiency, but build it on the foundation of patient experience.
5. Consumer-driven healthcare demands the need for personalized experiences
One’s health is one of the most intimate and important facets in their life. Patients continue to voice appreciation for a timely arrival of the provider at their scheduled appointment window but focus more on the relationship built through visits. Patients want providers to know their wishes, goals, fears, concerns and how that affects their lives and interactions with spouses, siblings, children, coworkers, and fellow humans. As much science as there is in medicine, there is also art. We are called, as healthcare workers, to not only look at the problem, but look at the person. Healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all industry. For every person that utilizes healthcare, there is a unique story attached to their care. The goal for healthcare, in a post-COVID-19 era, is to bring in agents of change that are cutting edge, meeting patients and members where they are in their healthcare journeys, recognizing the determinants of health that are present worldwide, and have the ability to modify those agents to achieve better trust, better experience, and better health.
In 2022, healthcare organizations will face a number of continued pressures – from continued implications as a result of the global pandemic, to fierce competition and heightened consumer demands. But you don’t have to face this disruption alone. Avtex is here to help. Our team of healthcare experience experts helps you deliver seamless healthcare experiences through strategic design and careful orchestration across a number of overlapping CX disciplines, strategies, applications, and technologies.
Be well, and happy new year.