Whether they’re serving in a clinical or non-clinical role, healthcare providers have a strong desire to help patients and truly care for others. The care team knows that each patient is unique with different health concerns; backgrounds; beliefs; family and economic situations; and health literacy. They must meet patients and caregivers where they are and engage by being fully present, empathetic and understanding. This type of effective communication builds trust with patients, and likely increases patient satisfaction, adherence, and improves quality of care and health outcomes.
For a patient who is newly diagnosed with a chronic disease or a serious illness such as cancer, the care team is a lifeline. Patients and their caregivers can be thrown into this unfamiliar world where they must act quickly across a complex healthcare system and yet don’t even know how to spell most of the medical terms. They are trying as fast as possible to learn about the illness; understand their options; undergo lab work and tests; comprehend insurance coverage and billing; and gain emotional support. The nature of the patient-care team relationship is intense — and stressful for all parties involved. Managing cumulative stress has always been necessary.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, burnout is at an alarming rate among healthcare workers with two-thirds of physicians experiencing at least one symptom of burnout, and more than one-third (34%) of nurses say it’s very likely that they will leave their roles by the end of 2022. Earlier this year, the US Surgeon General issued a General Advisory on Addressing Health Worker Burnout citing actions that need to be taken by the various stakeholders, including technology companies, which need to design technology to better serve the needs of health workers, the care team and patients across the continuum of care.
Orchestrating Meaningful Connected Experiences
Technology can help resolve inefficient workflows and reduce non-clinical work and support the care team as they engage with patients — if it’s used as a tool that organically fits into the caring for patients and caregivers. A patient communication or engagement solution should complement the user’s effort, not create additional work and should aim to incorporate active listening and empathy capabilities to effectively understand a patient’s questions and concerns.
Let’s reimagine how we might give more time back to care team members so they can spend more focused time with patients or have more personal time. Here are some ways where we might be able to use technology in a meaningful way.
- Orchestrate workflows in partnership with the end user teams and realize there is some flexibility needed as not every group will work exactly in the same way. Design a solution that builds on a common platform yet can be configured or tailored to meet the specialty and service line needs. For example, we have seen integrated health systems enable patients to self-schedule primary care appointments but not able to do so for dermatology, and yet the same engagement solution can be used for both.
- Engage your patients. As patients are demanding more of a consumer approach in their healthcare, allow them to perform self-service for routine items such as billing payments, appointment management and parking details. This frees up the care team to focus on higher value and more complex interactions that require direct patient engagement. It also improves the patient’s experience as they don’t have to play phone tag to get a simple question answered. They can engage with their care team in the manner they prefer, and feel they are more empowered, which can lead to greater agency and self-care.
- Integrate wellness tools into engagement systems to deliver stress relievers for the care team. Providing a 60-second reset on breathing, stretching or gratitude releases a healthcare worker’s stress throughout the day when they need it most. One customer using the Thrive Reset solution on our system of engagement realized a 98% take rate, increased employee satisfaction and improved key KPIs.
- Present relevant information to health workers at the right time. Orchestrate experiences where the system of engagement captures and presents relevant patient information so the care team can provide a personalized experience. Combine that with practice protocols or other knowledge bases, as well as scripting tips on the same desktop to avoid searching through multiples tabs or paper. Patients feel that their care team knows them and cares about them!
- Integration with systems of record and transcription capabilities. Automate the flow of data back and forth between systems of engagement and systems of record, such as EHRs. Improve quality by ensuring the right data is captured in the right system; and reduce the cost to serve by reducing time spent documenting. This frees the care team to focus on higher value interactions.