How many people experience this scenario on a regular basis: you have an appointment with a doctor, and the doctor asks if you have any questions. You can’t think of any…until you reach home and remember something you wanted to address. How often do I take this medication? What side effects might it have? What might that upset stomach I had three weeks ago? Why does my blood pressure vary so much from visit to visit? Can I drink a glass of wine with that medication?
There are two kinds of patients from this point: those that shrug and vow to try and remember next time, and those who pick up the phone and call the office. They get a receptionist, and need to be called back by a nurse. The nurse may or may not be able to answer the question, so he or she may promise the patient an (eventual) callback by the doctor. In the meantime, an hour (or more) is wasted, and an answer isn’t always forthcoming. The patient’s question may not even be about a healthcare issue…it could be as simple as a reminder of what time to arrive for a procedure or where to park. Or it could be as simple as a patient needing reassurance.
With digital technology today, pathways for patients into healthcare needs to become more targeted. With the telephone, patients are met with several impenetrable “walls” between the question and the answer, and scaling each wall requires significant effort on the part of patients and wasted administrative time from healthcare practices. Mobile technology can go a long way toward breaking down the wall, according to a recent blog post by Aspect’s (News - Alert) David Rastatter, particularly when it comes to using SMS, or text messaging.
“Mobile and self-service solutions can play a big part in helping patients take control of their health by providing easy access to important information to help them stay on track when it comes to follow-up care,” he wrote.
Mobile apps that provide a direct line to physicians and other providers, pharmacists, insurance specialists or administrative personnel can go a long way toward reducing patient frustrating and eliminating wasted administrative time by acting as a kind of “medical concierge.”
For a patient who will be undergoing a procedure, for example, the app could provide basic surgery logistics (time, date, etc.) and easily accessible admissions prep and facility information all through SMS.
“The patient experience begins well before the patient walks into a facility, and extends beyond discharge,” wrote Rastatter. “Mobile and self-service technology is empowering patients to stay educated throughout their journey by providing access to resources and enhancing communication with their providers over the channels they use every day. The more educated a patient is the more empowered they are to make better decisions and have a speedy recovery.”
And the more educated and reassured a patient is, the easier time the healthcare provider will have in helping the patient remain compliant, calm and interested in participating in his or her ongoing health.