Patients are increasingly technically oriented and equipped, and they want to open the door to digital communications with their doctors, according to InformationWeek Healthcare. And that only makes sense for a general public that is largely broadband-installed, smartphone-equipped and increasingly involved in their own healthcare decisions.
What’s new about this situation is that InformationWeek reports that an increasing number of doctors—presumably tech- and medical marketing-savvy providers—are responding to this patient-driven demand. As many as one in four providers report the widespread use of email to communicate with patients.
Perhaps surprisingly, the communications channels that patients want are not via Instant Messaging, Facebook or Twitter (although social media serves other purposes). “Clearly, patients want fast, easy access to essential information about their care,” according to the article.
“Recent surveys shed light on just what patients are looking for. Sixty percent of the 843 adults surveyed by Public Policy Polling say they would take advantage of doctor email if it were offered. Similarly, more than half would welcome online appointment scheduling.
“One of the most popular communication tools, according to this survey, is decidedly old school: 72 percent want a nurse telephone help line. Nearly three-quarters of Americans would use a secure online tool to get lab results, request appointments, pay bills and communicate with their doctor’s office, according to a survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Intuit Health, a patient portal.
“Even more significant is the fact that almost half of the respondents say they’d consider switching doctors to obtain such e-services. Healthcare providers run the risk of losing business if they wait on the sidelines.”
While nearly all (95 percent) of doctors would like patients to complete medical forms online in advance of appointments, surveys found that only six percent use videoconferencing with patients.
The barriers on the provider’s side are well known, and for many situations, they are issues that still need to be resolved before widespread adoption takes hold. These include concerns about privacy, security, liability, staffing and compensation or reimbursement.
How are you using digital communications? Are current patients likely to shop for another provider to open online communications channels? Is there a medical practice marketing message that supports your brand and reputation? Do you have a competitive advantage to leverage? Send us a note, or comment below.