Prior to the pandemic, healthcare technology was steadily on the rise. However, the pandemic rapidly sped up the development and implementation of new tools. More than ever, healthcare providers are relying on telehealth, health apps, and fitness trackers to connect patients virtually. Unfortunately, as most of these technologies are relatively new, they are still experiencing growing pains. Also, as the population in the U.S. ages, it can be hard to gain digital healthcare adoption from those who aren’t digitally literate. With some simple solutions and consideration, healthcare providers can help improve their offerings and increase the adoption of healthcare technology solutions.
Improve Digital Literacy
Digital literacy means being able to use digital devices and technology, including smartphones, computers, and apps. For many, using these devices is second nature, but for others, including the elderly, navigating new technologies can be extremely challenging. Considering the elderly are among the most vulnerable population for severe COVID-19 cases, ensuring that they are comfortable using these technologies is extremely important.
One solution is to ensure consistency across all the technology that your practice is using. Having to learn how — and when — to use each new healthcare technology solution can be overwhelming. Stick to one system that provides everything the patient might need — scheduling, reminders, video conference calls, or more. Ensure that the platform is user-friendly with capabilities for easier navigation, such as text enlargement to improve visibility. This can help them navigate the platform with ease.
It’s also important to ensure staff is trained on the digital healthcare solutions that are being used and that they can navigate the offerings with relative ease. This way, they can help train patients on the platforms and answer any of their questions. Any time a new solution is implemented, begin by training the staff to make sure that they are confident about the software.
Increase Digital Healthcare Access
At this point of the pandemic, people are experiencing Zoom and call fatigue from being forced to connect virtually. To ensure that patients are willing to go to appointments and meet with their healthcare providers, it’s important to give them options to access care. For many concerns, video calls will be the most appropriate way to meet with patients. If possible, give them the option to call, email, or use chatbots for questions or simple requests. These can also provide faster access to their doctors. Since the coronavirus is still relatively new, people are anxious when they start showing any symptoms. Instead of having to wait for an appointment, chatbots and emails can help quickly diagnose patients. Giving them multiple methods to communicate with their healthcare provider can help them feel reassured during this uncertain time.
Communicate on Their Terms
Since forms of communication are limited, it’s also an important time to increase communication with patients. With healthcare increasingly shifting toward digital formats, they likely have more questions. Ensure that you’re sending out regular updates to reassure them that your clinic is open and that you’re available to help — albeit virtually.
Since the point of this is to keep them aware and informed, it’s important to communicate they’ll actually see. With so many businesses using email marketing, your messages can get lost in the chaos. Using text messages can offer a solution to cut through the noise and keep patients updated. Most people, even the elderly, can use text messaging. Texts also offer much higher open and response rates when compared to email communication. Sending updates, appointment reminders or even educational texts can keep patients engaged and can help them feel connected, even when apart.
Improving the Digital Healthcare Experience
Although the pandemic is expected to end, digital healthcare is here to stay. It can help healthcare providers gain data and insights into their patients’ health, it can provide easier access for vulnerable or remote populations, and it can help patients gain quick access to their providers. With the demand for these services rising, there’s no doubt that the technology will also improve. Work with your patients to train them and get them comfortable with using these new healthcare technology solutions.