A positive patient experience matters more than ever, according to healthcare industry leaders worldwide.
In an annual survey by Omnia Health Insights in partnership with GRS Research & Strategy, nearly half (45 percent) of respondents in clinics, private hospitals and public hospitals across the globe identified understanding patient needs as the single most important aspect in ensuring a satisfactory patient experience in 2021 – a 15 percent increase from the year before.
The Voice of the Healthcare Industry Market Outlook 2021 found integrated health services (19 percent) in second place, ahead of access to new and improved technologies (13 percent).
Survey participants also saw transparency, convenience, wait times and clinical atmosphere as priorities conducive to creating a satisfactory patient experience. All these span different stages of the patient journey whereupon the patient interacts with the healthcare delivery system.
A satisfactory patient experience will, for example, result from a timely appointment, ease of access to information, and effective communication between patient and healthcare provider.
Alongside clinical outcomes and interventions, Etisalat Digital’s Healthcare Division sees enhancing patient experience as necessary to building a patient-centric healthcare model.
Etisalat Digital, the UAE-based digital transformation leader aims to improve the patient experience through its unified patient experience solution whilst generating operational efficiencies and cost savings for the healthcare provider.
Addressing every stage of the patient journey
Digitizing the patient flow begins with a comprehensive exercise to intimately understand the patient journey, which involves mapping interactions or “touch points” between patient and provider.
By identifying specific bottlenecks, Etisalat Digital is better able to design appropriate technology-led solutions tailored to the provider. Inclusivity is also taken into account, recognizing that not all patients are digitally-savvy.
Take Patient A (we will call him Fahad). Fahad’s patient journey begins at home. Over breakfast while preparing himself coffee, Fahad receives a reminder from his hospital mobile app, about an upcoming appointment the same afternoon with his diabetologist. This mobile app which is integrated with several of the hospital systems, empowers him to easily access various hospital services, book new appointments including telehealth, and also interact with the provider. While getting ready for his appointment, Fahad receives another notification from the hospital app alerting him to leave in the next 35 minutes if he were to make it on time given the anticipated traffic on his route. Just as he is about to set out, a ride share option pops-up on his hospital app. Instead, Fahad chooses to drive himself. Navigation through maps, helps him take the fastest route.
Upon arrival at the hospital, he finds a parking space with ease thanks to the smart parking feature that has identified and reserved an available slot near the out-patient clinic,, saving him time and effort, especially in the searing heat. He opts to go without a digital valet service, available for certain cases such as a physical disability that would send a porter to the door ready to receive the patient.
As Fahad enters the building, grateful to be in the cool environment, a self-service kiosk allows him to automatically check in through facial recognition and an Emirates ID reader (similar to checking in for a flight at the airport), meaning he doesn’t have to queue. While at the kiosk he quickly updates his profile with his new email address and makes a quick payment.
While at the diabetes clinic he receives an estimated wait time on his mobile app since the queue management process is also handled digitally. Upon seeing the consultant he is advised for a blood test, an ultrasound and given a prescription.
Fahad turns to his mobile app again for guidance. Using indoor navigation, the app directs him to the precise location, first to the ultrasound, since there is little wait time as determined by the intelligent system, before taking him to the lab. Meanwhile, he is notified by the app that his prescription is ready for collection from the pharmacy, saving him more time.
A day later, Fahad receives his test results through the hospital app and is able to discuss results with his doctor via video-consultation feature.
He is furthermore reassured that his medical data is safe: Etisalat Digital takes security very seriously. All data through the application is end-to-end encrypted, including in transit, while Etisalat Digital’s solutions are hosted securely on its own cloud platforms and data centers within UAE.
Enabling operational efficiency through data-driven insights
Through digitizing the patient journey, Etisalat Digital can also help the provider make smart operational decisions – decisions that can translate into cost savings. A reduction in patient “no shows” of 20 percent, for example, may result in significant savings over the course of a year.
Data is collected at every touch point, providing real-time insight into operational inefficiencies in the system, whether these are poor capacity, inventory planning, or excess wait times.
This information feeds into multiple dashboards for healthcare administrators and specific departments at the provider (a Head of Nursing might wish to access operational data, for instance) in order that decision-makers can easily visualize issues and react accordingly.
An example might be the referral of a patient to a laboratory for a blood test. While the patient encounters a long wait time for their appointment, through the dashboard the relevant decision-maker quickly identifies and deploys three underutilized technicians from elsewhere at the hospital, thereby shortening the wait.
Etisalat Digital’s dashboards also serve to identify needs into the future, through artificial intelligence. An AI engine is learning throughout and identifying trends based on predictive analytics.
It means that hospital management can quickly see what’s ahead, allowing them to better plan their services and inventory. For example, anticipating a surge in patient volumes during flu season, decision-makers can prepare ahead of time.
This article appears in the latest issue of Omnia Health Magazine. Read the full issue online today.