Using digital patient interactions to heal the fractured patient experience

How healthcare providers can use digital patient interactions to heal the fractured patient experience

Today’s consumers demand simplicity and ease when interacting with any provider of goods or services, and healthcare is no exception. The consumerization of healthcare and increased adoption of patient-centric and value-based care continues to push healthcare providers to consider new technologies to improve the patient experience.

The patient who uses a search engine to research providers is the same person who schedules an appointment, calls the provider to ask for directions, completes an intake form, schedules diagnostic testing, and completes a provider survey. However, more often than not, each interaction with the healthcare consumer or patient remains siloed, fracturing the patient experience—from difficulty scheduling (and keeping) appointments to having to provide the same information repeatedly or getting lost in the transfer between departments.

 Engaged patients are three times less likely to have unmet medical needs and twice as likely to seek prompt care than unengaged patients.[1] Patients become less engaged (or entirely disengaged) when their experience with a provider is difficult or frustrating, leading to delayed care and unmet medical needs. Providers waste time and resources responding to queries from multiple directions and are forced to guide patients through disparate systems and processes, resulting in frustration and lost productivity. For physicians, three unfilled cancellations can cause a productivity decline of 12.5%, not to mention potential compromises to patient health.[2]

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), substantial evidence points to a positive association between patient experience and healthcare outcomes. Studies show that patients who are more activated have better health outcomes and care experiences. Communication with the provider organization correlates with patient adherence to medical advice and treatment plans.[3] Better patient engagement leads to better health outcomes.

As many providers undergo digital transformation, revisiting the many point solutions that power patient experience may be in order. Looking to the latest in CX technology may provide some solutions.

Here are four practical ways customer experience technology and digital patient interactions can improve the patient experience:

  1. Make patient-provider interactions simple and easy

    Consumers across every age range have modality preferences when it comes to interacting with an institution or service provider. Older consumers may prefer a phone call to reach a human while younger consumers may be satisfied getting answers from an automated chatbot through their mobile device. With many healthcare providers serving a wide range of demographics, support for both human and automated patient interactions through a variety of modalities can reduce friction and contribute to improving the experience for consumers, patients, and staff alike.

    By analyzing first-hand data on all patient interactions across the care journey—for example, recorded phone calls, chatbot interactions, social media interactions with the provider, form fills, post-care surveys—providers can learn about a patient’s experience along the care journey, personalize interactions appropriately, identify which experiences need improvement, and find new opportunities to automate to create more intuitive experiences and reduce administrative burden.

  1. Increase patient access with self-service information and tasks

    For many consumers and patients, the first interaction with a provider may be through an internet search that lands on the provider website. Providers must ensure that web navigation and content organization are optimized for visitors to easily find the information they need. Many consumers may be researching options or seeking to self-educate on a topic. Using smart knowledge management that optimizes provider content can improve patient journeys by enabling self-service starting at internet searches and extending across web pages, mobile apps, bots and digital channels.

    McKinsey reports that increasing automation and self-service of the consumer and patient care journey can lower administrative costs by an additional $24 billion to $48 billion annually. Once the consumer or patient is engaged with the provider, routine actions can be automated, such as scheduling, rescheduling or canceling an appointment, paying a bill, collecting a referral or refilling a prescription. Proactive and automated outreach can confirm that patient’s intent to arrive for scheduled appointments and offer automated cancellation or rescheduling, reducing wasted time and resources in making staff available for a patient that doesn’t show. Automated and self-service CX features give patients the convenience of completing actions on their own schedule and gives providers the ability to allocate staff to optimize care.

  1. Improve patient care by connecting experiences along the end-to-end care journey

    While standardized post-care surveys help healthcare providers understand patient impressions in retrospect, there’s also a great deal of insight already housed within phone call and digital interaction data. By aggregating these data from every touchpoint and combining them with post-care survey response data, providers can apply analytics to gain insight on the end-to-end journey patients take with the provider. By using AI specifically trained on customer experience interaction data, providers can glean actionable insights and receive guidance to identify improvements, chart next steps, and drive excellence in patient interactions and care.

  1. Empower contact center agents to be a part of increasing patient satisfaction

    With recent staffing shortages and strain on healthcare systems, intelligent human-machine collaboration can make a difference. Offloading routine, low-stakes interactions to smart conversational AI that can escalate to a human as needed can save staff countless hours.

    Additionally, by empowering contact center agents with a rich knowledge base, automated sentiment analysis, and real-time guidance, they’ll be prepared to deliver more empathetic conversations and meaningful support. 

Today’s CX technology holds the key to connect patient interaction data in a way that increases provider understanding of the entire care journey. Such data-driven insights hold promise to improve empathy, connection, and communication with consumers, patients, and staff. With the ability to gauge patient experience at every touchpoint, healthcare providers can make incremental improvements that impact patient access, patient engagement, and, ultimately, patient outcomes.

[1] Health Affairs: What The Evidence Shows About Patient Activation: Better Health Outcomes And Care Experiences; Fewer Data On Costs | Health Affairs (2013)
[2] Medical Economics: Turning patient cancellations into revenue ( (2020)
[3] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Section 2: Why Improve Patient Experience? | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality ( (2020)