By Juliet Silver | Jun 29, 2020 | bizjournals.com
Health care providers and payors remain immersed in the pandemic. Deaths and hospital admissions hover well above normal levels, requiring emergency response measures to manage and care for thousands of patients.
Health care organizations, understandably, are in a reactive stance. In addition to grappling with the immediate response to the Covid-19 outbreak, a forecasted second spike in illnesses and hospitalizations looms large.
However, this emerging window of opportunity creates a pause-and-reflect-moment to enhance and coordinate short-term measures taken in response to the pandemic. Additionally, the long-term environment is now more fully primed for digital health’s more central, dynamic role in meeting consumers’ evolving health care expectations.
Challenges and solutions – Right now
Health care has been stretched to new limits in patient volume, equipment shortages, and the sheer number of calls, emails, and inquiries coming from the patients/members, media, and government. Fortunately, digital health technology has quickly proven itself powerful in a wide range of use cases:
- Triage: Critical care needs demand priority attention. AI-enabled chatbots and interactive voice response (IVR) have helped redirect the brunt force of phone calls and emails going in and out of medical offices and call centers, allowing staffing reallocations to what matters most: rapid and nimble health delivery.
- Care: Virtual and televisits, follow-ups, and consults redirect the number of in-person visits for patients with non-urgent symptoms. This proves particularly helpful when patients can be effectively treated at home, thus limiting exposure. Additionally, remote monitoring and support of high-risk populations such as the elderly, immunocompromised, obstetric patients, and those with comorbidities reduces risk of virus spread.
- Communication: Gathering and analyzing critical information is important in prioritizing those who are high-risk and providing adequate resources where necessary. The pandemic also heightened the need to automate the distribution of educational materials, guidelines, and frequently asked questions (FAQ) to patients, health care members, and communities – not to mention providing real-time communication and educational updates to health care professionals on the latest hospital protocols and policies.
So what has helped health care organizations most rapidly respond to Covid-19? Omnichannel, digitally centric interactions that draw upon the real-time power of AI.
Automate user interaction with chatbots
Chatbot tools and services automate user interaction, easing the burden on customer service and health care teams overwhelmed by high volumes of inquiries. Quick to implement – often within days or weeks – and easy to custom-configure, these technologies help triage patients, automatically guide non-critical patients/members to the most helpful resources, and greatly reduce call wait times. They also adhere to major medical and data compliance and regulatory requirements, including HIPAA.
Cultivate rapid, tailored outreach powered by CRM
CRM systems have proven invaluable in responding immediately during a pandemic. They not only offer a single view into patients and members, but can also analyze specific patients, automate and manage workflows, and – when integrated with the appropriate tools – be used to educate and inform.
Boost existing resources with powerful enhancements
In addition to the capabilities and technologies that can be rapidly designed and implemented, health care providers and payors can also tap into their existing infrastructure. Adapting your approach to digital communication, marketing, and enhancing your search capabilities can improve the digital experience.
- Search connectors: Solutions that enhance the search experience for employees and patients/members can be quickly implemented using a variety of technologies like Google Connector and Coveo that integrate across multiple channels and access information stored in multiple data repositories. An enhanced search capability quickly and comprehensively equips customer service agents with relevant information and knowledge from a single search, anywhere – a resource of particular benefit during high call volumes demanding quick resolutions. Additionally, this same resource better empowers patients/members in their own searches on your digital properties.
- Inclusive messaging: Consider all audiences such as non-English-speaking and those who have other health issues (diabetes, cancer, cardiology, pregnancy, urgent care needs), and many more who still need health care and are wondering how Covid-19 will impact their care.
- Diversion strategy search engine marketing (SEM) and opportunity analysis: Search teams are now working alongside providers to successfully leverage paid search in routing non-Covid-19 patients to urgent care facilities. These urgent care “campaigns in a box” have been helpful in getting people urgent and emergent medical care while keeping emergency rooms clear for the most critical patients and to reduce levels of risk for the virus.
- Paid media opportunity analysis and campaign support: As Covid-19 causes significant shifts in consumer behavior, marketing teams should analyze and respond to where and how members/patients are now spending their time. By adjusting strategies and campaigns to promoting Covid-19-related content where your target audience is now the most active and engaged, you’ll ensure you can distribute information with maximum exposure. Offerings include augmenting your team to rapidly deploy new campaigns.
- Website survey feedback loop: Consumers are looking to health care organizations to provide guidance and answer key questions during this pandemic. Organizations are working hard to answer those questions but may be missing some key questions, especially questions that may be regional in nature.
- Virtual care options: Help consumers navigate care solutions you have available by defining virtual care, promoting virtual care, and providing an exceptional virtual care experience making the most of your digital infrastructure.
As the new normal emerges, there will be a broader role for digital coordination and management in health care, encompassing more than just virtual visits.
If you need assistance with any challenges mentioned in this article – or even those that weren’t – Perficient is here to support you and can help you increase your impact in responding to both current and future rapid response needs.
As Perficient’s health care chief strategist, Juliet Silver provides thought leadership on developing and implementing delivery frameworks for health care organizations. She led efforts at a global medical technology manufacturer to create a go-to-market platform and architecture strategy for the company’s intelligent and connected medical devices.