How-to Guide

7 ways the healthcare industry can improve the digital experience

COVID-19 has drastically impacted the healthcare industry, with many doctors offices closing their doors and turning to telemedicine instead. When patients no longer interact with their providers face-to-face and staff no longer work together in person, the software they rely on to communicate and track patient information is more critical than ever.

As more patients access health services online, patients and providers will turn to the software products that provide the best user experience. So, how can you ensure that it’s as seamless as possible?

Here are seven tactics healthcare technology companies can use to create a better digital experience:

1. Discover how patients use your software

Knowing how patients use an application is often a huge blind spot for healthcare companies. Due to concerns over HIPAA compliance, teams have been hesitant to use an outside tool and instead relied on engineering to run backend queries to answer questions–which isn’t very efficient when you need information quickly. With a proper product analytics platform, you can collect data on key workflows and usage patterns to help better understand how patients navigate your software. You can then use these insights to validate hypotheses on user behaviors and track changes in usage as you make improvements over time.

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2. Educate and engage patients

When there’s a spike in first time users, virtual health providers need to quickly understand these new patients’ usage patterns, identify common points of friction (or frustration), and then create an onboarding flow that drives patients to success by guiding them through key workflows. Similarly, providers need to ensure patients stay engaged and inform them of any new features in the future (for example, if you begin offering appointments via video conferencing).

By delivering these ongoing communications and the initial onboarding experience in-app, healthcare companies can personalize messages based on what they know about their users (e.g. their role or location) and communicate updates when the information is most relevant.

3. Understand provider usage by role

Think about all of the different people a patient interacts with when they visit the hospital–the person in charge of intake, the nurse, physician, any specialists, the pharmacist, and whoever handles checkout and billing. Each of these health professionals covers a specific part of the patient experience, and likely uses different parts of what can be a robust software system.

Since so many different types of users access the application, health tech providers should move toward a persona-driven development approach. But in order to simplify and improve the user experience for each persona, you first need to know how different types of users interact with your product, and understand the unique concerns and challenges each group faces. You can then put these insights into action, for example by stripping out parts of the interface that aren’t relevant for a particular type of user.

4. Increase internal efficiency for providers

For software products geared toward healthcare providers and staff, a key way to improve their experience is to deliver critical notifications, updates, and training inside the application itself. This way, providers can maintain optimal efficiency since they don’t need to leave the application to learn key information. You can also utilize in-app walkthroughs to reinforce training for new employees and guidelines that all staff members need to keep in mind. These communications help staff complete the workflows necessary to do their job, while keeping errors and interruptions at a minimum.

5. Improve software usability and customer satisfaction

Healthcare technologies can be confusing, filled with long forms and unfamiliar interfaces for patients and providers. On the patient side, first time or infrequent users of virtual care platforms might get confused or frustrated, and either create a support ticket, call into a help line, or abandon using the application altogether.

Prioritizing end-user satisfaction with your digital experiences can boost your ability to retain customers and drive new customer acquisition. Since App Store ratings tend to be a proxy for patient experience, healthcare providers are often measured by a formal customer satisfaction (CSAT) score or Net Promoter Score (NPS). Improving these scores depends on your ability to find and address the most common and impactful user experience issues.

To address both usability and satisfaction, it’s important for providers to understand which parts of the digital experience are causing frustration (based on support tickets created and where patients drop off in the workflow). These insights can help you prioritize product improvements, or even deploy tactical interventions like tooltips to explain commonly confused terminology.

6. Prioritize the right new features

The healthcare industry operates by always putting the patient first, but in order to build the right features for your users, you need to understand how they use your product–as well as a way to measure the impact of any changes you make. As you look to update and improve your digital experience, think about how you can get data to support answers to the question: what should we build next?

When possible, try to incorporate user feedback collection directly into the product, for example via in-app surveys or a formal feature request process. If you’re not able to collect direct feedback from end users, you can still turn to product analytics to inform which areas of the application are used the most, and therefore merit more improvements and upgrades.

7. Measure key milestones during new customer onboarding

For practice management technologies or patient portals, the onboarding and implementation process can be complicated and is often at risk of falling off track. Detailed product usage data allows you to monitor each new customer’s progress, determine if they’re reaching key milestones, and manage any risk of falling behind on the go-live date. In many business models for these solutions, a new customer doesn’t generate revenue until the software is up and running and transactions are being processed, so efficient and on-time implementation has a direct impact on the topline.

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