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Telemedicine call between a senior woman and her doctor.As we participate in Patient Experience Week, I take a pause to acknowledge that we are living and working in extraordinary times. The COVID-19 pandemic has created massive, yet necessary, shifts in our healthcare system, none like we’ve seen before. We are witnessing 20 years of change and innovation all happening within a span of 12 months. Clearly, this is a time of the “Great Transformation”.

This transformation, caused by the deadly virus, has made it necessary to use formerly restricted systems to deliver high-value services that meet changing consumer expectations. These recent changes highlight the important role that digital technology and data play in helping organizations adapt and transform patient engagement systems. Let’s explore these shifts. 

Connected patient experiences

In her book, Health Consuming: From Health Consumer to Health Citizens, health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn discusses how consumers are playing a bigger role in their health journeys. They place higher demands on healthcare organizations to provide better and more connected patient experiences. As a result of these increased demands, specialty and ambulatory service lines have experienced shifts in traditional care delivery. Virtual health has increased from two to three percent total visits pre-COVID to an average of 30%. Organizations like the CDC use conversational health bots to service the higher volume requests and provide information about COVID precautions. This enhanced technology has made it possible for providers to stay connected to their patients, and to deliver the right information at the right time.

The Beryl Institute white paper, The Impact of Experience in Ambulatory Care, makes the observation that “ambulatory care is often where the healthcare journey seed is planted.” Experience within the ambulatory environment should satisfy both care teams and patients. At Microsoft, we understand the importance of these engagements, which we describe as longitudinal, secure, smart, and personalized.

Patients also want immediate and secure access to their personal health information anytime, anywhere. More than at any time in the past, consumers are focused on health and wellness. They’re using wearable technology and devices to keep track of their health habits and to access health records. Microsoft partners like Andor Health have developed new cloud-based software solutions by leveraging machine learning to help streamline the clinician-patient experience. Consumers are also seeing an increase in healthcare provider options for consumers provided by retail giants like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and CVS.

Care has shifted to the home and The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), a collection of medical devices and applications that improves healthcare outcomes and remote patient monitoring. This has provided ways for treatments and chronic care to be managed from the comfort and healing environment of a patient’s home.  

Prioritizing health equity

Critical to every patient engagement strategy is the shared goal to achieve health equity and improve access to healthcare. Technology has enormous potential to help improve health outcomes and reduce health inequities. A growing number of organizations like Dr. Shalon’s Maternal Action Project have joined the movement to leverage technology to make healthcare more accessible and save lives. Leveraging advancements in technology and shared resources can potentially accelerate pathways to better health outcomes.

Elevating the human experience

This requires the creative use of technology and care delivery models. The experience of “experience” is changing. Traditional patient experience is converging with consumer experience into a consumer-driven engagement model. We at Microsoft continue to be committed to helping the healthcare industry get the tools it needs to overcome its challenges and improve patient experience and outcomes. Microsoft is proud to work with organizations like The Beryl Institute to elevate the human experience in healthcare.  “We are excited to welcome Microsoft to The Beryl Institute family as our newest supporting partner. We have always seen solution providers as a key part of our community and long held that innovators across industry have a significant role to play in positively impacting the patient experience,” said Jason Wolf, President & CEO of The Beryl Institute. “Microsoft’s mission ‘to empower every person to achieve more’ truly aligns with our global commitment to transform the human experience in healthcare. We are thankful for their partnership and support.” 

To learn more, download our e-book, Personalizing Healthcare: Engaging Patients in the Digital Age.