If you are like me, you’ve recently done some online shopping – if not for holiday gifts, then for yourself. And your experiences have probably ranged from easy and awesome to frustrating and difficult.
Without naming any companies, I’ll describe the optimal experience, but also what we all too often run into.
The most satisfying experience is when the retailer already has some key information about you so the transaction can be completed with just a couple clicks; they also offer a real-time chat with a service rep if you need it. We keep going back to those sites.
The frustrating ones are confusing: too much back and forth between multiple screens and not at all intuitive. If something is backordered, they don’t tell you until the end of the process. Then, you have to start over and give your information again. In the end, you may get the product you want (or something close) but it took too long and was difficult.
Yes, you’ve avoided driving in traffic, fighting for a parking space, and waiting in checkout lines in crowded stores.
In the world of online shopping, we have become accustomed to easy, fast, few-clicks shopping and we now expect the same in other parts of our life. So why not in health care?? Our patients expect seamless, easy access to information and the ability to do basic transactions from any device.
Most health care organizations now have some type of patient portal as an extension of their electronic health record. Basic functionality includes secure messaging with your physician, requesting prescription refills, scheduling appointments, on-line bill payment, and access to your health record. But the ability to do all this and more from your mobile device anytime, anywhere is still a goal for many organizations.
Why not be able to find a doctor, to make an appointment and to even have a virtual e-visit if one is needed? Then to get all your follow-up tests and procedures scheduled, to get your prescription ordered, to access needed health education material, and to view key parts of your record all in that same one easy integrated and secure mobile app? Leading organizations are working at this level and more need to follow.
I am now living in a new city, but I’ve yet to get established with a PCP at the local health care system. I’ve done what I typically do – ask someone I know who is connected to that system to refer a good physician. Next, I’ll call to try to get on that physician’s patient panel. I will be interested to see how easy and accessible their systems are. I am cautiously optimistic given the state of patient portals in 2016. I hope to be pleasantly surprised!
Patient engagement and mobile health will continue to be a focus for health care providers; we still have a long way to go.