Revisiting the Doctor Visit

Today we are more in tune with our health than any other time in history. This new focus on health and change in consumer behavior is largely being driven by startups in Silicon Valley and innovative tech companies around the world.

The innovators are disrupting and consumerizing healthcare to the benefit of all of us.

As tech companies consumerize healthcare and create more frictionless experiences, it would behoove doctors to take notice and implement certain technologies and services into their practice to improve the patient’s overall experience.

Focusing on user experience, many tech companies are developing healthcare products that consumers want to utilize on a daily basis. This is resulting in higher engagement rates, which means users are more likely to take their health more seriously, focusing on exercise and diet.

While doctors are clearly focused on the health needs of their patients, many haven’t adjusted to the consumerization of healthcare by taking into account the whole user experience.

Take the doctor’s visit. When you visit a doctor, you have to sign in, fill out paperwork, share your insurance card, then take a seat in the waiting room. Wait times now average 21 minutes before seeing your doctor, an increase of 6 percent since 2012, according to healthcare data analytics firm Vitals.com.

To improve the patient experience, doctors and employees of medical practices should start to consider how to create value for their patients. “The value experience is unknown in the medical field,” says Dr. Daniel E. Thompson of Commonwealth Orthopaedics, the official orthopedic and physical therapy partner of the Washington Redskins.

While creating value is a relatively new approach in the medical field, it is the bread and butter of the hospitality industry. César Ritz, founder of The Ritz hotels, had the famous saying, “The customer is never wrong.” The staff at doctor’s offices could learn a lot from Ritz and his focus on providing excellent customer service.

With a fresh new attitude and approach to customer service by staff, doctors should focus on eliminating friction with the office visit. Instead of filling out paperwork, patients should be able to wave their smartphone in front of a near-field communication (NFC) device, which would enable the staff to instantly view their patient history and insurance information on a tablet.

Staff checking in patients would know their required co-pay and whether they hit their deductible. This data would allow the provider to charge the correct amount for the office visit, without overcharging or incurring any friction, since the patients’ credit cards would be on file.

A receipt would instantly be emailed to patients, notifying them about complimentary Wi-Fi and encouraging them to post a review of their visit online. The receptionist can send opt-in updates via iBeacon technology, informing patients about their remaining wait time and their exam room.

By staying in constant communication with patients, doctor’s offices can help reduce stress level. Even after a 21-minute wait, patients will be more satisfied with their visit if they’re kept in the loop. Once the appointment ends, patients could receive any additional paperwork via email, eliminating the risk that they could misplace important health documents.

Technology will only enhance the doctor’s visit, enabling doctors to focus on what they do best: providing care for those in need.

Revisiting the Doctor Visit is an article written by Brulte & Company Co-Founder Grayson Brulte that was originally published on General Electric Reports.

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