Analyzing the patient perspective on engagement technology

The new KLAS report summarizes patient research that illustrates how technology can help meet consumers’ desire to be more empowered in their care.

The pandemic has further highlighted the need to better listen to patients and learn from their perspective. By doing this, both providers and marketers can ensure that the technology used in healthcare reflects the needs and desires of patients. Unfortunately, patients are still often absent from healthcare IT conversations.

KLAS recently partnered with patient engagement provider Phreesia to survey 13,000 US patients to learn more about what they want and need from patient engagement technology. A new report, Patient Perspectives on Patient Engagement Technology 2022, summarizes the findings of this research. The report provides breakdowns of the data that can be used to help you identify where to invest money to achieve the greatest impact.

A look at what patients value

The research sheds light on the main reasons why patients choose their doctors, as shown in the graph below. Obviously, there are things organizations can change and things they can’t. They probably can’t change the location of their facilities or their availability—except to hire more doctors. But beyond these two main factors, there is a huge opportunity to create a great experience with digital tools.

One example is price transparency, which is regulated from early 2021. Organizations are required to be able to tell patients what they will pay for a procedure. And technology plays an important role in providing this information.

The survey results show that patients want to be more empowered in their care. The things patients want to achieve with technology are not rocket science. Many other industries have already figured out how to do one-on-one meetings and online bill paying, for example. There are unique challenges in healthcare, especially for specialties, but the industry can still learn from what other sectors are already doing.

Voices for telehealth

Healthcare has seen a huge increase in the use of telehealth in the midst of the pandemic. But after that, the use of telehealth began to decline dramatically. Organizations are now trying to figure out whether the government will continue to reimburse them for telehealth visits. Some question whether they should continue to offer telehealth at all.

But the results of the study illustrate why organizations need to figure out a way to offer telehealth services regardless of whether reimbursement is the same. The study found that about half of patients had participated in virtual visits in the past year. And most of these patients are likely to maintain or increase their volume of virtual visits. Of those who have not had a virtual visit, many say they are likely to try telehealth eventually. All indicators show that most patients still want to have virtual access to care.

Why the patients’ perspective matters

Despite the increased challenges healthcare providers are currently facing, they must focus on implementing the technologies patients want. After all, better patient satisfaction leads to better HCAHPS (Hospital User Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey results. These results in turn affect recovery rates.

Organizations that figure out how to digitally engage with their patients will retain their patients. Consumers will increasingly choose providers who create the desired experience (within what insurance plans will cover). And convenience is an important factor. Can I schedule an appointment online? Do I need to fill out another form after I have already provided the information over the phone? Factors like these lead to satisfaction.

If a healthcare provider organization can engage patients through technology in a way that influences their behavior, it could potentially reduce the cost of care. It makes sense, for example, to expand the use of remote patient monitoring so that patients can be discharged from hospital more quickly to recover in the comfort of their homes.

Dan Cech and Adam Cherington are analysts at KLAS Research.

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