When you’re sick or you have questions about a medical issue, you want solutions and answers quickly – if not immediately.
Digital technology has allowed hospitals and health systems to extend their interactions with current and prospective patients through tools such as online appointment schedulers and chatbots. They’re convenient ways to generate leads by helping move individuals through the decision-making funnel, and, ultimately, get the care they want and need.
Except for when they don’t work. That was the case with a friend who tried to access a telehealth phone service through his health care provider when he was sick during the holiday break.
The phone consultation went well, but the follow-up left much to be desired. He never received confirmation of the interaction, which was a red flag (especially when we’re so used to immediate email confirmation after, say, an online retail purchase). Then, his prescription didn’t arrive at his pharmacy as planned.
He was persistent (because he wanted to feel better), but as he followed up, he struggled finding the paper trail for the initial interaction of the provider associated with his consultation. The worst part? After all those phone calls, he had three charges on his credit card – one for each interaction with this initial service. They sure got that part “right.”
The whole point of his call in the first place was to get care to make him feel better. On the flip side, I had a cold before the holidays, went to immediate care, stopped by the pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions and was home within a few hours. A totally different experience.
He could have easily posted about this poor experience on social media and turned many people off this service. We’ve all had unsatisfactory experiences with (not just) health care, but opportunities lie in the customer service, the follow-up and the lessons learned.
Why does health care feel so behind in some of these areas? That’s a blog for another day. Don’t let the potential challenges deter you from exploring the benefits of these services. Knowing consumers increasingly want more convenient online access options for a host of medical services, here are a few easy steps to keep top of mind.
Train your staff. Yes, there are so many topics your staff needs to be prepared to address. But, if you’re going to pay for, implement AND market a service, make sure your team members have talking points and procedures in place to help your patients. And if they don’t have the answers, prepare them with the steps to find them – especially if you’re contracting/outsourcing services.
Test the technology. I learned a good lesson in this at a previous company where I was developing marketing collateral for a new facility. I consulted with the supervisor of said facility to confirm the phone number, and she picked up the phone and dialed the number. Turns out, the call center was routing the number to the wrong place. Before you launch a service, test it out and make sure it works. Even after the launch, secret shoppers are a great way to make sure it’s still working.
Fix it and learn from it. As I said, don’t let potential challenges scare you from adopting new technology. If issues do occur, the gold is in the lessons learned. That likely means devoting specific team members to patient engagement and system improvements. Don’t be afraid to delay a service launch until all your ducks are in a row.
These digital tools are another reminder to be proactive rather than reactive, which we strive to help our clients do on a regular basis. Understanding their capabilities on the front end, testing them out and having a system in place to address issues when something will inevitably go wrong are a few ways to set yourself up for success.