Despite the NHS’ pledge to improve its digital capabilities, new research has found that it is failing to live up to its promises as nearly 60% of patients are not satisfied with current processes. Here,
Technology has the ability to revolutionise the way that healthcare professionals engage with patients before and after treatment.
Progression of this type of technology will be a huge step forward in communication efforts and the NHS’ efforts to become ‘paperless’.
Many current frustrations, such as a lack of available information about the hospital experience, could be vastly alleviated if a digital offering can assist in providing this kind of information instantaneously for patients.
Patients themselves have echoed the need for digitalisation, with our latest research finding that 9 in 10 (89%) people would like to utilise modern technology, such as a mobile app, if it improves the NHS service and makes their healthcare experience better.
Patients and consumers have also come to expect a better digital offering as many other sectors such as retail are making more use of technology.
Unfortunately, the NHS is currently lagging in its 5-year plan to boost care through technology and many patients are unhappy with the progress so far, with nearly 60% dissatisfied.
To improve patient satisfaction, healthcare organisations need to act fast to ensure that digitisation is a priority.
There are many potential benefits to improving patient access and communication through technology.
Predominantly, improvements could simplify processes and make healthcare administration simpler and quicker for both patients and healthcare professionals alike.
The majority of patients surveyed (76%) revealed that they would like to have a form of technology available to manage hospital appointments such as booking, cancelling or confirming an appointment.
Over half (55%) would also like a form of technology to be able to store their prescriptions, so they can access treatments more quickly without requiring an appointment.
It is also clear that many patients would like to use technology to take a greater control of their own healthcare, particularly in regards to the administration and management of their treatment.
45% of those surveyed would like to access healthcare records digitally so they can make better decisions about their health, and 43% said they would like to use technology to manage their illness – such as tracking medications or keeping a food diary.
These results highlight that many patients would like a greater feeling of autonomy when suffering from an illness and would like to feel more involved in the treatment process.
Improving technology would be a way of allowing patients to keep abreast of the management of their treatment, while ensuring that healthcare professionals are still able to oversee all aspects.
Obstacles for healthcare technology
While technology could vastly improve healthcare, there are key considerations that the Government and healthcare organisations need to take into account when looking to boost the digital capabilities available.
For example, healthcare leaders must carefully consider topics and issues that patients potentially won’t want to discuss via technology.
This is because over a third (33%) of patients have admitted they would not feel comfortable discussing sexual health through this format, and 24% felt the same about the topic of mental health.
In fact, 75% said they preferred face-to-face communication when discussing sensitive topics, highlighting the need for forms of technology to be carefully implemented to ensure that appropriate methods of communication are available for more sensitive health issues.
Organisations looking to develop and implement healthcare engagement technology should also consider data privacy and digital security issues, as this is a big concern amongst the majority of patients (69%), due to the amount of personal information being used in patient records.
Developers should therefore work hard to ensure that technical and administrative safeguards are put in place to ensure that patient’s data is secure.
Equally, healthcare organisations should look to demonstrate that it is doing all it can do withstand any potential threat of data theft.
Communicating data and security policies to show that care has been taken to prevent unwanted access is one way to do this.
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Some patients (13%) have also raised concerns about their ability to use technology effectively, so it would be wise for organisations developing healthcare tech to take the time to ensure it is accessible to all potential users, including the elderly, who may not be used to this kind of technology.
Similarly, any potential variations in technology between hospitals should be taken into account to prevent an inconsistent experience for patients.
Progressing with the digital first approach
While there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the digitisation of healthcare communication with patients, it is clear that there is a strong demand for this sort of technology to be implemented, so efforts should be made to speed the progress along.
If healthcare leaders take strides in improving their digital capabilities they not only have the chance of improving patient satisfaction, but also the opportunity to boost their own efficiencies to ensure that employees’ time is maximised.
As simple admin tasks will be able to be handled more quickly via technology, this will free up more time for staff to spend on patient care and face-to-face contact on more sensitive issues, which will help to boost patient satisfaction and quality of care.
Sourced by Matt Hunt, CEO of Apadmi Enterprise