Maine now has the oldest population in the United States. For MaineHealth, the state’s largest integrated health system, it poses a special challenge. How do you work for a better patient experience that leaves no one behind?
The answer is short technology. But after I prepared an event to update my health care experience, the long answer that prompted me to write was about the use of technology in a thoughtful and caring way.
What is health equity?
In health care, fairness means serving people logistically, clinically, emotionally and financially — no matter who they are.
Patients who did not provide much service were delayed or even missed care due to lack of trust in the system. More recently, we have seen that mistrust affects national covad-19 vaccination rates. To make matters worse, black and Latino people are more likely to become seriously ill and die in CV-19.
Socio-economic status, environment, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation should not be the reason why patients do not receive the care they need when they need it. The goal is for suppliers and distributors to deploy solutions that reflect their priorities and to empathize with underprivileged people.
This is where technology comes in. Properly covered, it will withstand a great deal of adverse conditions. In Maine, for example, patients with modern technology are very satisfied with tele health and other virtual services; But the main thing in rural areas is to expand access without access. In that case, finding the best partners was crucial for MaineHealth. For example, the National Digital Equality Center’s “Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative” promotes the inclusion of low-cost digital literacy services for non-traditional populations, enabling residents to become aware of technology that contributes to financial stability and improved health.
Wise use of healthcare technology
Looking ahead, we see some promising signs. At the time of the outbreak, receive high-quality tele-health services – not only for medical but also for mental health services. In April 2020, the use of virtual care for office visits and outpatient care was 78 times higher than in February 2020. 38 times higher From pre-epidemic.
Telemedicine simply provides an unprecedented bridge of care. Improving access and affordability around health care is a major step in innovation — helping patients travel to the service provider, avoid unsafe child care or unpaid work hours due to appointments.
Promoting fairness starts with creating a good first impression on your digital “front door”. It is important that people feel that they are treated with dignity and respect throughout the patient’s journey – from making an appointment to paying the bill.
Here are some strategic ways to do this
- Check ease of use. Technology must provide a recognizable and convenient digital experience. This means enhancing the patient experience for high performance (and ease of use) mobile devices, so that people can access services anytime and anywhere.
- Enable language integration. Digital devices cannot be created just for English speakers. All communications, including bookings, reminders, and online payments, must be accessible to those with limited English (or whatever). Bilingual translations, such as English to Spanish, are a good starting point. Multilingual? Better than that.
- Provide support for people with disabilities. Does your digital experience support patients with visual or hearing impairments? The number of patients is usually a good representation of the general population. Considering that 1 in 4 Americans live with a disability, ensuring access to your digital products is critical to providing a positive and helpful user experience. For example, you can identify users with color blindness and visual impairment by selecting more contrasting colors. Also, text will be easier to read by exceeding the minimum comparison and size criteria.
How people bring technology to life
To be clear, technology will never replace human relationships in health care. Technology is good for the people and processes behind it.
Digital solutions often increase the patient experience and patient engagement to a higher level – rather than the overall solution. For example, the Maine Health Center Flag Hospital at Maine Medical Center uses strategies such as training for all staff and professionals to ensure that patients and their families are fully engaged and have control over their ownership. Health.
What works well for one patient can be confusing and frustrating for another. This is why it is important to combine technology solutions with high-performance communications as we all work toward greater equity.
This is especially true of financial experience: Equal payment is a must. There should be no two-step system for medical bills, or there should be no one-size-fits-all approach. Forget confusing paperwork, invariant payment options and powerful collection methods. Provide direct information on pricing and options, both pre- and post-visit. And no matter what the message, remember to be kind. Offer billing relationships as if you were going with a family member or close friend.
After all, if technology is an obstacle at any time during patient travel, (human) assistance should never be more than a phone call. Implementing new tools can be a gradual process. Make sure telephone lines and call centers have enough manpower to handle incoming calls – and hire staff who are bilingual. Aim to reduce frustration and wait for everyone to support you.
If you can find the right high-tech, high-impact options, you have reached a milestone in improving equity and accessibility, patient engagement, health outcomes, reliability and profitability. When technology is applied mentally, it can change our broken health care system and provide a fair and positive experience for every patient, no matter who they are.