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Patient Engagement Technology Not Aligned with Patient Expectations

There is a gap between what patient engagement technology offers and patient expectations, as 67 percent of patients want the ability to schedule and reschedule healthcare appointments, but most don’t have it.

Patients are demanding more digital health tools that allow them to manage their care, yet this is the area patient engagement technology vendors most fall the shortest of patient expectations, the latest KLAS report noted.

The Patient Perspectives on Patient Engagement Technology 2022, obtained via email, gathered survey responses from 12,861 patients across the US, specifically looking at patient perspectives around healthcare information technology (HIT).

The pandemic has emphasized the importance of accommodating patient needs to improve care quality and outcomes. Still, patients are left out of conversations about HIT.

Ideally, vendors should be aligning their technology strategies with patient needs and expectations, especially since more patients than ever before are utilizing patient engagement technology.

“In some areas, patients, organizations, and vendors are aligned—for example, family/caregiver collaboration tools and systems that allow patients to find doctors are of relatively low importance to all parties,” KLAS researchers pointed out in a press release. “But some functionalities that patients greatly desire are currently limited or unavailable due to a lack of vendor development or a lack of readiness or willingness from provider organizations.”

According to the report, 67 percent of patients want the capability to schedule and reschedule healthcare appointments online or via an app. However, only 37 percent of patients can do this.

Similarly, 50 percent of patients reported wanting the ability to request refills of prescriptions online, but less than 30 percent of respondents had those capabilities.

Patient engagement technology vendors can close the gaps between patient expectations and reality by giving patients digital access tools that offer the ability to self-schedule appointments and request prescription refills.

The KLAS survey also asked what patients most value in choosing a provider organization. The report has showcased that patients have made digital access tools a central priority when selecting a care facility.

Patients between ages 18 and 34 are nearly twice as likely to select a facility that has digital access tools such as appointment check-in, online appointment booking, price transparency, online bill-pay, and online provider communication. Younger patients especially wanted price transparency tools that determine healthcare costs before a visit.

The desire for digital access tools is not limited to younger patients; 60 percent of older patients reported wanting the ability to self-schedule appointments.

Studies have shown that a convenient and technology-driven healthcare experience can tremendously improve patient satisfaction. Roughly 4 in 5 Americans want the ability to use technology when managing their healthcare experience.

As a result of the pandemic, more patients are also demanding virtual care and telehealth access. The survey found that 40 percent of respondents who did not have a virtual visit last year said they were likely to have one in the future, signaling an uptick in these services.

Despite the demand, patients have taken note of opportunities to improve the quality of care, audio/video quality, and ease of navigation.

Patients reported that organizations should provide better patient education on the types of appropriate visits for virtual care. In addition, 32 percent of respondents believe receiving a link before the meeting would benefit their virtual care experiences.

When asked about the patient portal, 26 percent of patients reported not using one, with patients in the youngest age group most likely to say this.

Patients want actionable features that directly affect their ability to receive care, like scheduling appointments, requesting referrals, requesting prescription refills, and communicating with providers. Patients are also looking to gain access to test results and medical history when using the patient portal.

Vendors and organizations should analyze new and emerging patient needs to further engagement, KLAS stated.

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