Health care digital transformation can drive patient loyalty

The right digital health capabilities can improve patient engagement and build loyalty

Quality health care provides a positive and engaging experience to the consumer, which is an essential ingredient for building and maintaining patient loyalty. In fact, patient loyalty serves as the foundation of health care profitability—a reinforced outlook since the pandemic—and has a direct impact on the bottom line. This is becoming a critical issue: brand preferences remain in flux while consumers seek alternative options.

Digital transformation is playing a key role in helping industries such as finance, retail, and hospitality to boost consumer loyalty, and health care is keeping pace. Research firm IDC reports that using technology as part of a “memorable, differentiated experience” allows organizations to successfully compete for retention. IDC also noted that 73% of consumers cited a unique experience as the deciding factor in placing loyalty.

Offering innovative, digital health capabilities to improve patient engagement and streamline complex workflows can lead to higher-quality, precision-oriented results and, in turn, positively affect patient loyalty.

To truly earn loyal and long-lasting patients, though, it takes more than just adopting new technology and hoping for the best. Instead, the approach must be integrated so that all solutions work in unison. Some specific strategies for adopting an integrated digital approach include:

Putting the patient first

The modern consumer expects a seamless digital experience in everything from ordering a meal to paying a bill to reserving movie tickets, and health care is no different. Given those patient expectations, health care organizations are rapidly adopting a patient-centered care approach, highly tuned to the individual's particular health care needs and outcomes. Through an advanced, intuitive, and easily accessible engagement platform, patients experience the ease and convenience of a seamless connection to specialists or even billing personnel while providers reduce operational costs.

Ultimately, the goal of the patient-centered approach is to empower patients to become active participants in their care. This requires physicians and all other medical staff to develop good communication skills and address patient needs effectively.

Patient portals play an increasingly important role during the daily bustle of work, school, and family activities. An electronic gateway connecting hospitals, physicians, and insurers offers patients a useful, convenient, and memorable experience by delivering what is needed.

Portals also give physicians a better opportunity for a targeted and accurate diagnosis while delivering options for care choice, allowing users the choice of virtual care or one-click office scheduling, as well as prescription fulfillment preferences.

Above all else, it is important that health care interactions be highly intuitive and easy to use for every patient, regardless of age, gender, income, or any other demographic factor. A digital portal is a physician’s front door to a quality health care experience, seamlessly integrated for the consumer’s benefit.

Offering financial flexibility

In addition to facilitating prevention, early diagnosis, and management of chronic conditions outside traditional provider settings, digital healthcare technologies empower consumers to make better-informed decisions about their own finances.

Today’s empowered consumers call their own shots, and their financial choices are based on personal experiences—the same independence and need for oversight apply to health care. This kind of patient-centered approach enables patients to pay medical bills on their own terms by scheduling payments over time, sometimes even spread over many years.

An agile and accessible digital approach also gives patients the ability to manage their entire family’s healthcare finances, insurance processing, and bill payments in a singular, easy-to-access online location, creating an enhanced experience to lay the groundwork for loyalty and return visits.

Maintaining patient loyalty in the age of digital health

A patient engagement platform helps remove barriers to medical care by streamlining a complex process into a focused, patient-centered, and accommodating online apparatus. It offers an all-encompassing, start-to-finish experience that lets patients schedule an appointment, see a doctor, provide insurance information, process payments, and send prescriptions to a local pharmacy.

The right digital platform can provide health care professionals with more resources to help patients experience convenience, and offer less worry and strain. Current and prospective patients are likely to respond with appreciation, and ultimately loyalty when health care providers adopt integrated digital platforms.

Hamilton is CEO of InteliChart a developer and provider of patient engagement solutions.