Are we using data to our full advantage in health care? Chances are no, and we could be missing on a huge opportunity to improve the way patients experience care.

The majority of providers, practitioners and professionals across the healthcare industry have finally adopted some form of EMR or EHR to record and store data, analyze outcomes trends, improve workflows and drive better financial results, but this just the tip of the iceberg. We must start leveraging data to help nurture patient-provider relationships –– and technology provides us a powerful gateway to do so. In fact, with the right technology we have easy access to direct insights into our patient’s’ needs, wants and desires at every step along their journey. Armed with this information, we can empower them to make more informed decisions about their own care, build deeper relationships with them, and truly embrace a more collaborative care model.

Empower patients with outcomes data.
Navigating healthcare is scary and challenging for most patients, often simply because they lack the information they need to make informed decisions. They don’t have access to a particular provider’s outcomes data—or any other information that would shed light on that provider’s track record. But, with greater transparency and data-sharing, we can empower patients to become active participants in their care.

The data should be available on-demand—when the patient wants and needs it. And this goes beyond access to personal health records. What if patients were able to see outcomes data for different treatments and procedures provided to other patients whose health circumstances were similar to their own? What would that do to quell their nerves—and help them better understand their own situation? How would it empower them to take control of their care journey—to reshape the way they experience healthcare? It’s important to ponder these questions from the patient perspective.

Build deeper relationships with stronger communication.
Most providers and clinic owners are already using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to send appointment reminders, the occasional newsletter, and perhaps birthday wishes, but there are so many more opportunities to enrich the patient experience through technology—the right technology, that is. For example, by analyzing the behavior data of patients who’ve undergone knee replacement surgery, you may be able to pinpoint specific actions that correlate with greater success in recovery. And with outcomes data, you know which treatments produce the best results. Combine the two, and you’ve got a powerful tool to help you form your patient communication strategy.

For instance, you could create a customized workflow within your CRM to not only set up an appointment cadence based on the optimal number of visits for a particular type of treatment plan, but also create automated emails timed with the patient’s progress and stage of recovery—messages with content such as instructions for home care, suggested rehabilitation exercises, and answers to common questions you know they might have. You could even take it a step further and provide videos demonstrating the recommended exercises. The more specific and stage-appropriate the communication, the better the patient’s experience and incentive to engage.

On the other hand, when patients can’t access solid information from a trusted source (like their provider), they will often turn to the Internet and Dr. Google to find answers to their questions—which, as I’m sure you’ll agree, isn’t the best solution. So, give them the support and peace of mind they need by proactively using data to deploy regular, information-rich communications.

Give your patients a voice.
One of the simplest ways we can use data to enhance our patients’ care journeys is by surveying them. Clinics can use Net Promoter Score (NPS) or a different survey mechanism to gain insight into what patients want and need, and what’s working—and not working—from the patient’s perspective.

Do you truly know your patients? Do you intimately understand their individual journeys ––the challenges they may be battling or concerns that may be holding them back from moving forward? Are they craving more details about their particular condition, wondering who they should talk to about a particular concern to, or wanting a more comprehensive—and objective—explanation of all possible treatment options? You’ll never know unless you ask, and surveying is one way to generate honest, specific feedback.

This sort of data is extremely powerful, as it provides a candid look into the patient experience, helping providers identify areas of both strength and weakness. Practitioners and clinic owners can then proactively pivot to better serve their patients, which in turn demonstrates to the patient that his or her opinions truly matter.

Let’s borrow from a philosophy that’s already commonplace in so many other areas of business: data—and the technology used to gather and disseminate it—provides an effective mechanism for not only better understanding the patient journey, but also fostering a better, more engaging experience. And improved patient experience is a big piece of the overall care improvement puzzle.


Photo by Alexander Hafemann on Unsplash

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