How to Provide Patients with the Human Touch in a Digital Age
While advanced technology can provide healthcare practices with convenient automated care, patients still require the human touch during their visits to feel safe and valued. New tech tools in healthcare, such as telemedicine, chat bots, and AI programs, offer many opportunities to improve the doctor-patient relationship by combining the ease of tech with the power of human touch.
When done correctly, combining digital tools with a human touch can improve patient satisfaction and overall practice reputation.
Does your online reputation reflect how satisfied your patients really are? Check Your Practice Reputation
Bringing the Human Touch to Healthcare Tech
Patients generally feel that their medical needs are unique and unable to be effectively addressed by algorithms or other technologies.
Although medical AI and other new healthcare technologies can perform with expert-level accuracy, patients are still wary about forgoing human interaction during their care journey. Luckily, there are several ways to combine digital tools with human experience.
For example, consider the onset of COVID-19 and the major worldwide shift to telemedicine appointments. Telemedicine effectively combines digital tools with human interaction, thus maintaining patient satisfaction and keeping patients engaged.
However, there are some other ways to use new digital technology to stay engaged with patients while providing personalized care.
Sending customized messages to your patients will help keep them in the loop of their care. You can send them various messages about their upcoming appointments, care instructions, office announcements, specialized services, birthday and holiday greetings, and more.
Many mass messaging systems allow you to customize the messages so that they automatically go out using the patients’ names, their doctor’s name, the location they visited, and more.
By setting up a messaging system with personalized attributes, patients stay engaged, informed, and most importantly, feel like they are receiving the human touch.
Social Media Presence
Consistent and diverse content posted on your social media pages give your practice an authority in both your professional space as well as over your competitors, and helps patients stay engaged with what’s going on with your practice.
Content that patients actually want to see, such as what their appointment will look like, general updates on COVID-19, or how your practice is handling changes, help demonstrate the quality care that patients will receive by going to your practice.
Responding to patients when they engage with you on social media is also vital as unattended comments and unanswered direct messages show that you are not providing the human touch at your healthcare practice.
If used correctly, social media pages can become a place for patients to stay engaged and satisfied with your practice.
Online Support & Telemedicine
Telemedicine appointments have become a new normal for many patients across the globe. Patients get to receive professional care from the comfort of their own home, skipping the commute and mitigating the possible exposure or spread of COVID-19.
By offering telemedicine appointments, you show patients that you care about their well-being and know how to adjust to changing technology while providing personalized care.
Another form of online support is a chatbot feature on your website. Chatbots can be set to automatically answer frequently asked questions with your practice’s chosen responses.
If questions are not answered, patients can choose to wait to be connected to a live person to chat with. This type of AI technology is meant to answer questions and provide information while also offering human assistance if needed.
Understanding Patient Needs to Improve Satisfaction
Because a one-size-fits-all solution is simply not effective for all patients, it is important to offer many different ways to keep patients engaged and satisfied.
But, how do you most effectively understand the needs of so many different patients?
Education & Listening
Educating patients is the most impactful way of fostering an understanding between you and them. By listening and communicating from both ends, patient satisfaction can improve.
Learning about a patient’s general health care beliefs can help you understand their lifestyle choices, use of healthcare services, and even their medication adherence.
This type of understanding can also help healthcare providers identify and mitigate any gaps in a patient’s understanding, something not able to be replicated by AI or technology.
When healthcare providers and patients have a shared understanding of each other, patient satisfaction, commitment to treatment, and perceived outcomes of care improve.
Word Cloud Analysis
Word cloud analysis is yet another example of combining AI technology with the human touch for the purpose of improving patient satisfaction and online reputation. Using word cloud analysis on patient feedback can help pinpoint exactly how patients are thinking and feeling about your healthcare practice with simple words or word clusters found online.
Word cloud analyses can be performed by using a healthcare reputation management software and works by automatically analyzing online patient feedback.
The feedback is then broken up into the most frequently used words and phrases that patients mention about their experiences, ready for review by your healthcare practice.
Once your practice reviews the most common feelings from patients, your team can work to address any problems and implement changes to further improve the patient experience.
For example, common words and phrases you may find might be, “long wait times,” “waiting long,” “staff running late,” etc. Once you identify that patients are dissatisfied with long wait times, your practice can then strategize and implement new protocols to mitigate long wait times.
To ensure that all of your patients are up-to-date with what is going on with your practice, communicating with patients through their preferred channel is paramount. Whether you reach out to them through a phone call, text message, email, or even snail mail, patients will appreciate that they are receiving necessary healthcare information through their preferred method.
In addition, as more and more patients desire to understand the entirety of their health, having multiple forms of communication with your patients will help them feel “in control” and showcase your transparency with their care.
By combining digital tools such as mass messaging systems, social media accounts, telemedicine, word cloud analysis, and various communication channels with personalized elements, the human touch, healthcare providers can enhance and improve the patient experience.