Patients want consumer-friendly healthcare: How technology is making it happen

Patients want hospitals and health systems to provide seamless and personalized experiences so that they can feel a sense of simplicity and interconnectedness to their care. This is why CIOs are leaning into new technology, data and virtual assistants to achieve this goal. 

Hospitals and health systems are facing competition from disruptors like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, which have distinguished themselves by being patient-centric with their healthcare offerings while also giving patients the opportunity to get care when and where they need it. 

Many hospitals and health systems are looking at these approaches from disruptors and are trying to embrace them in order to stay competitive. This is where technology comes into play. 

"Technology will lead to consumerism of healthcare, like what we have seen in other industries. It will result in transforming operational processes to be more patient 'consumer-centric,'' Shakeeb Akhter, senior vice president and CIO of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told Becker's. "Technology will improve the patient experience by making it easier to discover, access and receive timely care."

Last year, CHOP introduced a new technology platform that auto-fills slots that have been vacated due to canceled or rescheduled appointments. The technology helps immediately auto-assign newly available appointments to the next patient on the waiting list. 

This has resulted in a significant decrease in time to access care at the health system, and average wait times for an appointment have decreased by 29 days across 14 divisions.

Marietta, Ga.-based WellStar Health System has also rolled out several efforts in order to create a more personalized healthcare experience for its patients, including its Omnichannel Customer Experience initiative and its Catalyst Voice initiative.

"Through connected [customer relationship management] and [customer data platform] tools spanning clinical and non-clinical disciplines, we're creating meaningful, personalized engagements with patients and consumers across all touchpoints. This enhanced experience will help Wellstar's important health messages reach and resonate with our community, and help us open doors to care journeys that make a difference at scale," Bill Bellando, vice president and CIO of Wellstar Health System, told Becker's. "Catalyst Voice is Wellstar's intentional effort to infuse the consumer voice throughout our innovation efforts — after all, as we shape the future of healthcare, we want to be shaping it around those experiencing that care — patients and consumers."   

West Des Moines, Iowa-based UnityPoint's strategy to make healthcare more consumer-centric is leaning on data and technology to move "toward a more convenient and efficient way for patients to receive care whenever they need it," Laura Smith, CIO and senior vice president of the health system, told Becker's

Even though technology is already making healthcare more consumer-centric, according to Zafar Chaudry, MD, senior vice president and CIO at Seattle Children's, he believes healthcare is going to see more use of personalization, as hospitals and health systems look to continue to improve communication, make care more affordable and empower patients.

"We are going to see more use of personalized health records giving patients more control over their health data," Dr. Chaudry said. "We will also see continued use of telehealth services, use of smarter virtual assistants to answer questions about healthcare, provide reminders about medications, and even connect patients with healthcare providers; and the expansion of efforts to use wearable devices to help patients improve their health and make informed decisions about their care."

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