The healthcare industry, while slow as a whole, has evolved leaps and bounds in the last decade. Automation, integration, and digitization, three processes that have already transformed the agricultural, transport, and financial industries, will also come to America’s 2.8 trillion dollar healthcare marketplace. And at Klara - unsurprisingly - we believe the biggest catalyst of this movement will be increased use of communication technologies in health practice management.
How has Communication IT Changed Patient Engagement?
Communications technology has played an increasing role in making practices more efficient and scaling patient capacity. Let’s illustrate. We’ve sketched an inverted ‘Healthcare Evolution Pyramid’ composed of patient engagement technologies. Moving up the pyramid, you’ll find newer, more sophisticated tech that engages more patients and drives more patient volume, but without a commensurate investment of time from healthcare providers.
There’s a natural progression up the pyramid, as healthcare moves online. The benefits are widespread.
As communication technology has advanced (from no electronic communication to telephones to internet), patient experience and convenience have massively increased. Medical practices are able to churn through higher patient volume, while those same patients enjoy increased convenience, better access to care, and a more fruitful experience as a whole.
There’s a pattern here, and it’s clear that the next big technology will increase patient experience and convenience even more. It’s reasonable to expect that new tech will also help medical practices gain higher operational efficiency and patient volume - so, what is that next thing?
That next mainstream thing is telemedicine. Telemedicine is not a new thing. Doctors in America have been using it for a while, but everyday technology is now making it exponentially more relevant. In addition to the convenience it adds for their patients, medical practices have a far bigger opportunity with telemedicine.
As a doctor, your relationship with your patients should not end once they leave your practice. In an age where doctors are continuously being screened, judged, and Yelped online, every innovative medical group or practice should know that good service isn’t enough - you need to engage and retain your patients. A good patient retention strategy can mean the difference from a patient coming in for a single procedure then going elsewhere, versus a patient coming in on a regular basis for further follow-up or new treatments - while also referring new patients through recommendations.
This is where the telemedicine applications come into the picture. They’re primed to become an essential part of your medical practice because they are not just about treating patients remotely, but also about medical practices’ own network of engaging patients and offering a premium service to patients.The biggest advantage of a premium (not even necessarily concierge) service is that patients know where and how to reach out to their physician when they need help, rather than going to Google or ZocDoc and hitting up your competitors.
ZocDoc isn’t Enough
Patients will adapt to new technology as it becomes mainstream. As patients, we won’t abandon waiting rooms, telephones, and manual appointment bookings for a long time - but there will be a natural progression to healthcare that’s more centralized online. Still - if you are on ZocDoc, what should you do next to scale your practice and improve patient engagement?
The answer is that you should quickly adopt a telemedicine service especially that is mobile and customized as your own personal network. You may be on ZocDoc and you may be receiving enough patients to make it worthwhile - but you’ll be at full capacity before too long. When patients (especially existing patients - whom you’ve worked so hard to retain) seek you out on ZocDoc they can’t find a free slot with you, they will quickly see another available doctor online and you’ll lose them. Yup that exactly is - Gone in 60 Seconds!