Imagine you’re feeling unwell, and you type out your symptoms into a search engine. Quickly you find a relevant doctor who’s online and ready to chat with you. After clicking to agree, you meet a doctor who already knows your symptoms and can suggest the next step.
Creating a seamless digital path from search engine to consultation room is the next step in improving patient experiences. But it’s not all about the front-facing services, the data systems behind the scenes must have the ability to provide the relevant information effectively.
Denise Kee, CEO of Xtremax, and Saurabh Pandit, Vice President, Asia at Sitecore, explain the challenges that healthcare providers face in creating a seamless patient experience online. They lay out the five key steps that healthcare organisations should take to achieve this.
1. Break the silos
The first step to creating an online patient experience is to ensure that the relevant data is accessible. Healthcare organisations, like other public sector organisations, have their data in silos, says Kee.
Patient data is often kept in several locations, making it hard to combine and share between different services. Xtremax was able to help Singapore’s Ministry of Health link up databases for its Claim Analytics System (CAS).
The CAS was built to address anomalies in the claims system, so information could flow better between medical providers and the ministry. The system flags outlier medical claims that could be over-servicing, over-charging and fraud, allowing for faster approvals for validated claims.
With Singapore’s medical claims programmes such as Medishield and Medisave, “to build this system, we need to break the data silos”, she states. By doing this, hospitals can then adopt “deep learning algorithms or AI that will optimise the claims procedure”, Kee explains.
2. Build the online experience
The second step is to improve and personalise patients’ experience online. Any digital health platform needs to be able to “track users and serve up content that will be most relevant and timely, in the most efficient way,” says Pandit.
This could mean more personalised services. For example, hospitals could give appointment reminders, and recommend diets and exercises tailored to patients’ age group and gender. This data would form part of a larger story of each patient’s health when integrated into health apps such as Singapore’s Healthy 365.
Sitecore, working with Xtremax, has “two very powerful features that really help us”, says Kee.
The first is a multi-faceted search engine. Sitecore remembers each patient’s searches and interactions on the healthcare provider’s website, allowing them to receive more tailored information or get notified on updates to their last search query.
The second feature is a chatbot that will listen and organise care for the patient. This chatbot will ask patients more questions about their symptoms and then use this information to suggest a relevant doctor that can consult virtually on the spot, Kee shares.
By harnessing this ability, this is where “the magic can happen” as healthcare providers give patients a personalised online experience, she says.
3. Connect communication channels
Communication between doctors and patients can become much simpler. Patients don’t want to repeat the whole story, says Kee. One online search should be enough for the doctor to know what they need.
Healthcare providers also need to recognise there are multiple channels and formats available – social media, emails, statistics and reminders. “The challenge comes in where they should host the content and how to distribute it,” Pandit shares.
Every Facebook post and email should be aligned so patients get a clear, cohesive message on their health. All communication channels should point them to the website as the ultimate source of reliable information.
This will allow healthcare providers to encourage patients to take action. For instance, if an unvaccinated patient has visited health ministry’s sites searching for vaccination centre locations, it could later send an email reminder to book a vaccination appointment.
4. Creating a collaboration platform
Hospitals need a messaging platform to speak to one another and collaborate. Without one, it is difficult for clinicians to securely exchange patient information.
Xtremax is helping hospitals to develop a messaging platform to help clinicians quickly pull up information about patients, making collaboration more convenient. This platform may also be used to connect healthcare providers and patients virtually.
To do more in the pandemic, healthcare providers should consider ad-hoc and spontaneous video conferencing to speak with patients. The information collected would add to the patient’s profile and help hospitals suggest relevant information each time they visit the website.
5. Adopt the cloud
Once silos have been broken, Xtremax has found that “we have to redesign the whole entire IT ecosystem”, Kee explains. The way to do this is to adopt the cloud as an alternative.
The cloud enables data to be more shared and used more conveniently. Singapore healthcare players can do this by moving more applications to the cloud, she says.
Xtremax has experience with developing large-scale cloud solutions, having supported cloud infrastructure for the Singapore government. This was after the government mandated that 70 per cent of its applications have to be on the cloud, Kee explains.
Creating better patient experiences starts behind-the-scenes of a healthcare organisation, but impacts the front-facing services that patients will cherish. Capturing helpful information, making data accessible on the cloud and using it wisely will enable these plans to become a reality.
Explore how government agencies can leverage technology to respond better to citizen needs here.