3 Ways COVID-19 Has Changed Digital Communication in Healthcare

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COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technology for healthcare providers. Many organisations have quickly transformed everyday operations to navigate the crisis while adopting and deploying new technologies to manage their unique logistical challenges.

These changes are long overdue. As recently as 2019, research identified major barriers to digital transformation within the global healthcare sector; across cultural norms, organisational structure, and internal governance. More so, public demand for digital healthcare has increased. For example, 66% of people would use online clinical services such as home-based diagnostics and over half would use virtual healthcare assistants.

Today, the safety measures used to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, such as social distancing, have made these possibilities a reality. Many healthcare practices have changed healthcare processes so they can deliver services online or over the phone. This has been a necessary step to navigating the pandemic, streamlining processes, and keeping patients safe.

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The Challenges of Digital Communications for Patient Management

Many healthcare practices recognise the challenges of effectively communicating with patients without face-to-face contact. Traditionally, patients have relied on physical appointments to receive trustworthy medical advice, make appointments, and pick up prescriptions.

With social distancing measures in place, these processes must be managed remotely. And if a patient doesn't have a registered email address, things can get complex. Internal staff can lose valuable time trying to manage all communications via phone or track down patient contact details. Luckily, digital communication platforms for healthcare streamline these processes.

How to Manage Digital Communications During the Covid Pandemic

A cloud-based patient engagement platform helps healthcare practices to make patient communications more efficient. For many healthcare providers, it has improved processes during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Here are some of the ways it can help yours.

1. Communicate Vital Health Information

Managing your digital communications from a patient engagement platform will bring all your vital patient information together into one place. When you’re looking to send out targeted health information to specific groups, for example by age or gender, it’s easy to do this from a single portal. You can schedule these digital communications in advance – making it straightforward to plan a comprehensive communications campaign to distribute your vital healthcare news.

Also, many patient engagement platforms come with premade or customisable e-mail templates, so your internal teams can easily communicate essential healthcare information. The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the adoption of these systems and while not all healthcare communications can be paperless, digital communications are an effective method of distributing practice news, updates, and information.

2. Automate Patient Reminders

Staying on top of patient wellbeing is a priority as the pandemic continues and staying connected with your patients is more important than ever. A simple way to improve your communications is by automating patient reminders for appointments via SMS or email. And this has proven results. In one healthcare practice, automated reminders reduced the cases of missed appointments from 8.9% to 5.3%. What’s more, these reminders can be adjusted to a couple of days or the day before an appointment, so you send communications at the exact right time.

Digital literacy is rising with each new generation. Quick, digital communications will become the norm – as opposed to the traditional letter or phone appointment confirmations or reminders. COVID-19 has simply sped this transition up.

3. Better Understand Your Patients

Spending time and money on a digital transformation project for your healthcare practice can be fruitless if patients don't engage with it. Therefore, it’s important to monitor and track your digital communications efforts to understand how you can reach your patients remotely. Using a patient engagement platform with a reporting function will help you achieve this.

Reporting and analytics let you see exactly how many users are viewing your communications, pinpoint failed email or SMS deliveries, and visualise and export the data you’ve collected. This can help inform decision making within your practice and identify groups of patients that might not have received your messaging.

For important circumstances, such as a practice closure or possible health risks caused by COVID-19 transmissions, these communication failures mustn’t be overlooked. And even when the pandemic is no longer a global health crisis, obtaining regular data about your patient engagement will continue to be useful.

Transform Patient Engagement with Digital Communications for Healthcare

The growth of digital communications in healthcare has been transformative and positive. While many healthcare practices continue to measure the threat levels of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to ensure your healthcare practice is futureproofed. A patient engagement platform allows you to quickly send and monitor the effectiveness of your digital communications over time, helping to keep patients safe. New call-to-action

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