The pandemic and the patient experience — 3 health IT experts weigh in

Before COVID-19, digital technology was reshaping the patient experience. Now, after the widespread adoption of telehealth to meet demand and protect patients and staff amid the pandemic, this trend is poised to accelerate.

Innovation and the patient experience were the focus of a conversation during a session at the Becker's HIT + Revenue Cycle Virtual Event on Oct. 8. The panelists were:

  • Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital officer with Renton, Wash.-based Providence St. Joseph Health
  • Alpa Vyas, vice president of patient experience of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Stanford Health Care
  • Philip Snider, DO, CMIO of Sayre, Pa.-based Guthrie

Here is an excerpt from their conversation.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Click here to view the full presentation on-demand.

Question: How has the pandemic influenced or altered your thinking about the best ways to improve the patient experience?

Alpa Vyas: The word "connected" really comes to mind for several reasons. There is a real need amid this pandemic to stay connected to patients and families, and even to each other as clinicians and members of the care team. Patients continue to value their relationships with their individual providers and physicians and the organizations where they choose to get their care, especially in uncertain times. We've really been thinking about how we use technology to build and maintain that trust.

Dr. Philip Snider: As a physician, I can say patients often come to us scared and uncertain. They're also not sure how to navigate the healthcare system, and they really need us to be an advocate, adviser and guide throughout that process. And I think COVID-19, since we're all worried about it as well, has allowed us to have even more empathy for what patients are going through. We need to make sure we step up and maintain that advocate role and just realize that everybody is worried here.

Aaron Martin: We've had our digital strategy team research our pre-pandemic assumptions about what's going to matter to patients and what's going to move the needle from a digital solution standpoint. They conducted hundreds of interviews and found everything that was happening before the pandemic in terms of digital adoption is going to happen a lot quicker.

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