Leveraging modern communications for patient engagement
With digital transformation accelerating and consumer expectations rising, the healthcare industry reached an inflection point where digital-first and contactless options were no longer nice-to-haves but need-to-haves for patient engagement. And, while the industry’s digital journey was thrown into high gear by the pandemic, the flexibility of software-centric telecom solutions has transformed patient expectations forever. Join us as we talk through how better patient engagement leads to better patient experiences.
Brad Roldan – VP Product Strategy, Bandwidth Inc.
As an experienced product leader, Brad Roldan leads initiatives designed to meet the needs of software-oriented, modern digital engagement platforms seeking to embed communications within innovative applications. Brad utilizes feedback from leading companies in FinTech, Health, and Customer Engagement seeking CPaaS solutions, to help them enable high engagement rates with their customer’s mobile subscribers through SMS, Voice, and Video solutions.
Brad Roldan (00:06):
Hi, I’m Brad Roldan, VP of product here at Bandwidth. I’ve spent the last few years working with our healthcare customers to accelerate their adoption of communication technologies to facilitate patient engagement. Before we jump into our main topic, I thought it’d be helpful if we could do a little background on Bandwidth.
For those who don’t know, Bandwidth is a global CPaaS communication platform, and we deliver service in over 60 countries. We deliver a cloud-ready voice, messaging, and 911 capability for enterprises and application developers. So whether you’re going through your digital transformation journey or seeking a partner for digital engagement, Bandwidth is at the heart of your communication stack. We’re proud to call some of the most innovative tech companies in the world, our customers, and some of the companies you may have even heard of, like Microsoft Zoom and Cisco.
Brad Roldan (00:56):
So let’s overview the opportunities for communications in the healthcare space for patient engagement. In the first area, I think we’re all intuitively aware of improving access to care (It’s what we measure our success on). The next area we’ll look at is optimizing patient outcomes and how communications can improve those. The third area might come as a little surprise, but we’re going to talk about increasing expectations from patients driven by a consumer mindset. And the fourth one (if you’re an implementer) is we will try to answer the questions: How do you actually get started? How do you actually implement it?
Brad Roldan (01:33):
So let’s jump into the first opportunity of access to care. So many of us have had the opportunity to experience some form of telehealth over the last few years during the pandemic; it’s an experience that’s been long and coming as the technology matures.
Brad Roldan (01:46):
We are finally hitting a tipping point where insurance carriers now offer telemedicine services coverage. The experiences have matured to a point where they’re good enough for general use, not just early adopters. So you might be asking yourself, “what is telemedicine?”. You might have heard of live medicine, for example, which we’ve all probably experienced at some point during the pandemic, like a live video session with your primary care physician. You might have heard of remote patient monitoring, which allows doctors to monitor their patients from a distance. And you may even be familiar with mobile health. These are essentially devices enabling healthy practices within our own lifestyles, but have we addressed the problem? Have we improved access to care?
Brad Roldan (02:34):
I can tell you in my experience in the last year, I tried to set up a telemedicine visit with my doctor. And after minutes and minutes of futzing around, my doctor gave up.
She said, “You know what? Let’s meet on something else”. And we ended up picking a consumer-grade platform for our telemedicine visit. It’s not a matter of technology literacy. Ultimately what happened was technology failure. The video plugin failed to load correctly on the consumer browser. So, we find ourselves challenged by trying to deliver a consistent patient experience across an inconsistent set of technologies. Not all of us have the latest web browsers, not all of us have the newest iPhone, and not all of us have gigabit internet speeds at home. And, so I’ll leave you with this thought. As you go through your journey of selecting your partners for implementing your telemedicine solution, make sure you’re picking a partner who understands the challenges of working with inconsistent technology stacks. While everything might be the same on your side of the equation, as a health provider, the consumer side varies. So you’ll want an expert who understands what it means to work with inconsistent broadband access and inconsistent technology stacks in the web browser. Collectively, our goal is to lower the barrier to access to telemedicine for the entire community.
Brad Roldan (04:07):
Let’s move on to the second big opportunity ahead of us, optimizing patient outcomes. This is an area that we likely all care deeply about after all. Moreover, it has a direct ROI that we can track against improving access to healthcare. There are many areas we can try to improve outcomes in, but for today’s discussion, let’s look at three areas that we can likely improve without much effort.
Brad Roldan (04:29):
The first area is health literacy. We know that lack of health literacy costs us hundreds of billions annually. Now, health literacy ultimately answers the question: do people have the information they need that allows them to make health-related decisions? The second area we’ll take a look at is medication support. It’s no secret that non-adherence is a leading cause of treatment failure. And of course, no-shows, we have taken for granted that this is a normal course of doing business. Unfortunately, the reality is that no-shows translate into an inefficient use of our resources. So what tools do we have at our disposal to drive changes in these three categories?
Brad Roldan (05:09):
Why don’t we consider SMS? It’s in our consumer ethos and part of our daily lives. When you consider the ubiquity of SMS, it is more likely to get a response from a consumer or a patient in this case than your attempts to reach that same person through email or voicemails. So let’s put this in perspective of the three areas we just discussed.
Brad Roldan (05:34):
Well, on health literacy, you can imagine that if you have a 98% read rate on SMS, you now have a higher chance of putting the right information into your patient’s hands. In the context of medication support, the near real-time read rate of SMS means that patients are more likely to continue following the prescribed program. All we need is a gentle reminder. And in the context of no-shows, the high response rates for SMS mean that patients are more likely to confirm or reschedule their appointments and reduce the number of no-shows coming to your facilities. And moving on to our third opportunity, increasing patient expectations. Now, in this context, we’re really talking about consumer experiences and how daily interactions influence our expectations. Think about your own lives from a consumer’s perspective: one-day shipping for online orders, one-hour delivery windows for online grocery shopping, and instant access to streaming content.
Brad Roldan (06:35):
And how does this apply to healthcare? The themes are fast and convenient for my schedule. As we modernize our health experiences, we must design those experiences to match or exceed current expectations. Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about inpatient medical procedures here. We are talking about the transactional patient and provider interactions. So some areas for you to consider first consumers are accustomed to multiple communication channels. How are your patients able to reach you? A phone number is not enough in a world where we have WhatsApp, Apple, business chat, and SMS, these feed into our need for fast. It’s okay to introduce A.I. and chatbots to help drive transactional communications. Think about automated scheduling and bill payments. These fulfill our need for convenience. And the last area to consider in patients driven by consumer behavior expect a choice. What alternatives are you enabling patients to consume services in a manner that works for them?
Brad Roldan (07:40):
How are you working with the patient’s schedule? So these are just some of the questions you should ask yourself as your team designs a modern patient experience. Moving on to the fourth opportunity, your journey to the cloud. Now, if your job is an implementer (meaning that it’s your job to implement health), I.T. systems, and help your organization migrate technologies into the cloud, you might be scratching your head. Where do you begin? After all, OCS delayed enforcement of PHI compliance for telehealth during the pandemic. You’ve likely got an existing technology stack that you’re trying to move to the cloud, and you’re probably getting a lot of pressure from your digital engagement teams to turn on new capabilities for patient communications.
Brad Roldan (08:24):
There’s no single path to digital transformation. However, picking a global CPaaS like Bandwidth means that you’re working with a partner who understands the difficulties of managing regulated environments, such as healthcare. And with that, thank you for your time. Hopefully, you’ve learned something new, and we look forward to hearing from you no matter where you are in your journey,