2020 brought healthcare to the front row, and the spotlight continues to shine on professionals racing to adapt to a new world. New modes of healthcare delivery collided with emerging consumer expectations, and that wave will continue to shape all professions in 2021 and beyond.
Before the pandemic arrived, consumers already had gravitated towards convenience in medicine and dentistry. Amazon Prime and Uber Eats exemplify service options that patients subconsciously look for in the healthcare space. They appreciate online tools that they can access 24/7; they don’t want to wait for hours in a waiting room, and they’re definitely going to check reviews before they choose a provider. Here’s what we know:
- 20% of patients will change providers following a single long wait-time appointment.
- 76% of patients want more information about how to improve their health.
- 71% of patients are frustrated with their healthcare experience.
Patient frustration leads to poor reviews, staff stress, and strained relationships. Many enhancements can flip these troubling statistics. It won’t be by doing what we’ve always done. But we can’t focus on everything at once, especially in smaller organizations with limited resources. Consider these three focal points to make healthcare more helpful to consumers:
1. Bring healthcare closer
Most people don’t want to take more time on tasks that take them away from their lifestyles, jobs, and families. In one survey, more people indicate that a dentist close to them is more important than price. Besides, people are more aware than ever about how much time they’ve spent in the past rushing through life. The average healthcare visit takes 101 minutes of patient time, including commuting and waiting.
On-site or satellite care allows patients to access care closer to home or work. More organizations and employers are looking for ways to create this reality from full-service to limited care options. They win in more than one way; workers spend less time away from work getting to appointments, and they’re more likely to utilize care that’s convenient.
2. Make virtual health available.
Virtual healthcare visits exploded during the pandemic. But early in 2020, telehealth visits were already up 30% over the previous years. Since a virtual boom during the spring shutdowns, usage remains high. Most importantly, 83% of patients indicated they would continue to use telemedicine after the pandemic fades.
Virtual visits serve a wide range of needs, and even teledentistry has taken hold. While there are many forms of healthcare that don’t fit this model, there are many that do. Post-op visits, consultations, and treatment planning discussions are all ways that give patients what they want.
3. Listen and adapt
Healthcare organizations race to deliver patient care, and corporations focus on operations in a challenging environment. In the frenzy, it’s easy to miss the patient sentiment that’s challenging social and structural paradigms. Sticking with business-as-usual is a default mode for private and public entities. But innovators look at it differently, and they’re moving to deliver what the market demands.
Delivering precisely what the population needs.
We’ve grown accustomed to more convenience and better service in every part of our lives. The market brutally punishes those organizations that fail to deliver, and people share their experiences online and at the coffee shop. As we move forward, healthcare delivery will continue to parallel other consumer experiences. Accessible, hassle-free care should be the standard, and it can be. Organizations that integrate healthcare closer to where people work, add virtual options, and continue to listen will thrive as the future unfolds.