Digital adoption is sweeping not just Australia, but much of the world, due to the speed of digital maturity. Although the rate of digital adoption hasn’t been quite as speedy in the healthcare sector in comparison to other industries, general practices are increasingly relying on technology to improve treatment processes for physicians and make visits less of a hassle for patients.
Thanks to online booking tools, mobile apps and text messaging systems, patients can schedule appointments with ease and receive reminders up to the very minute they’re due for check-in. They can even plan these visits when front-office staff are done for the day, as 54% of HealthEngine bookings are made after normal business hours.
In short, digital adoption has paid off for the medical industry. That said, emerging technologies continue to proliferate, as innovation never takes a day off. And since there’s a tendency to be satisfied with work processes already in place, practices risk letting their competition surpass them by failing to embrace state-of-the-art technologies.
Here are 5 key questions to ask that can help you better assess your practice’s digital healthcare maturity.
1. Have patient wait times steadily improved?
Above: Patients put a high value on prompt care and service.
For the most part in Australia, patients are seen rather promptly. Based on the most recent statistics available from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, close to 75% of all “emergency department presentations” (e.g. Resuscitation, Non-Urgent, Critical, etc.) are seen within the recommended time frame. However, there’s room for improvement, as just 66% of patients classified as “urgent” are seen on time.
One in five HealthEngine users see their GP within 4 hours of booking their appointment and over half who booked GP appointments saw their GP within 24 hours.
Of course, there are many factors that can contribute to patient wait times, and digital technology may be one of them. During emergency situations, patients may be far away from their primary care provider and need the closest practice possible, turning to Google for help. Practices may want to consider growing their online presence with the help of Google Ads.
2. Are your patients using online booking tools?
Our Patient Behaviour Report found an estimated that 77% of smartphone users have consulted with their phone to find local health services at least once within the last six months. The key phrase here is smartphone users. While it may seem like everyone is one, 18% of Australians are not, which is a considerable number in a country of 25.4 million. You may want to do a survey of your patients when they visit to get an idea of where they are with digital tools and whether you can adopt communications systems more amenable to their lifestyle.
3. Is your practice scaleable?
In line with Australia’s growing population, practices are also increasing in size. As referenced in our GP Industry Insights Report, corporate practices account for between 10% and 15% of all practices. GPs now top 35,940 nationwide, an increase of 53% from a decade ago. If your practice hasn’t already grown, it likely will. You’ll want to ensure your software is able to process, analyse and catalogue massive amounts of data so nothing gets missed and there aren’t any growing pains.
4. What is your competition doing that you aren’t?
Above: Alongside technological innovation, service is still a key element of delivering care.
This is an age of options, particularly in the healthcare sphere. Patients have a variety of locations and options for the treatment they need. Do some research into what technologies other medical offices are adopting to improve the overall experience. The failure to adopt the communication and appointments patients turn to can be a key differentiator, as 19% of patients that attend a rival clinic do so because their primary practice doesn’t make online booking available for patients to use, according to our Happy Patients, Happy Practice report.
You may also want to attend electronic shows and conventions where state-of-the-art technologies are presented to the public, often for the first time. You can ask questions and gain insight on emerging technologies’ commercial availability and whether the practice management technologies unveiled are intuitive enough to consider adopting.
5. Does your tech provider offer superior customer service?
Digital tools aren’t foolproof and can break down when you need them most. The provider that sets up your online booking systems should be sensitive to this reality and provide round-the-clock support services. Nothing about seeing the doctor is convenient, but patients rightly assume you’ll be there for them at their beck and call. The same goes for your tech provider; they should be as responsive to your needs as you are to your patients’.
Whether you’re a GP, dental or allied practice, or a specialist, HealthEngine has the digital healthcare solutions that can pay dividends.
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