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How to Drive Patient Experience in Healthcare in 2024: Six Key Takeaways from this year’s ViVE Healthcare Conference

Attendees walking around the hall at the 2024 Vive Conference.

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The ViVE 2024 conference on healthcare was a lively event that brought together thousands of professionals in leading healthcare organizations, systems, providers, and vendors.  There were abundant presentations, panels, and discussions on the latest trends and innovations, as well as common pain points in healthcare. I had the luxury to have over fifteen one-on-one conversations with transformation, strategy, technology, and customer experience leaders in the industry. Solving for patient experience was at the forefront of everyone’s vision and roadmap. Here are the six key takeaways that emerged from the event and the discussions.

Digital Front Door is a Key Focus Area

Although not a new focus area, the need for a digital front door emerged as one of the most common themes. The ask was less about standing up a new digital front door, but rather more about the seamless integration of existing patient touchpoints. Healthcare providers are looking for ways to make it easier for patients to access their services online regardless of the channel. This includes everything from online registration to quick check-ins to virtual visits. Some attendees noted that they are testing kiosks and biometrics to make the digital front door more accessible. This is important to limit friction and speed up connection. Others expressed interest in hands-free or password-less engagement to help patients, especially those who are less digitally savvy or English is not their primary language, to navigate the system more easily.

Patient Engagement is Low Across the Board

Digitally mature organizations with custom patient experiences, as well as those who use off-the-self portals like MyChart, complained about low engagement rates among patients. Those low rates were in the teens and twenties percentiles. They expressed concerns specifically with non-commercial patients—patients covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other public funding. Many providers reported that their patient portals were not being used as much as they had hoped. Everyone had the ambition to increase engagement rates and target more commercial patients—covered by private insurance. Further, many identified the need to understand the patient journey even before they are patients. Engagement includes the identification and conversion of non-patients to becoming repeating customers. Better user experiences and more personalized communication across touchpoints were the main proposed solutions to improving patient engagement.

Online Appointment Booking is Top of Mind for Everyone

There was no doubt that online scheduling and appointment booking were among the main problems discussed. Several providers are in the process of redesigning their websites and improving online scheduling and appointment booking. Others noted that there are currently no ways for patients to request and schedule appointments online. The issue is not necessarily the technical capabilities or implementation. The issue is logistic in nature. It is difficult to balance between the many different methods physicians use to see their patients. Some physicians use 15-minute blocks, others prefer 20-minute blocks. Converging and governing preferences as well as utilizing centralized scheduling systems were the obstacles. Aligning on digital roadmaps was a pre-requisite for most before figuring out how external partners can fit in.

Conversational AI and Patient Chatbots are Highly Anticipated

Discussions were not complete if AI was not a topic. Conversational AI and patient chatbots were highly anticipated by many attendees at the conference. Providers are looking for ways to use these technologies to improve patient engagement with frictionless interactions and seamless access to medical information. Conversational AI and chatbots were also considered to facilitate scheduling and appointment booking without needing to navigate a complicated portal. The main goal is to streamline the patient experience overall and help patients navigate the system with the ease of conversational narratives and communications.

Epic is Big and Many Want to Push it to the Limit

Epic is a popular platform among healthcare providers and its market share continues to increase. Many attendees at the conference reported using it at their organizations or planning to migrate to it. Although Epic’s patient-facing portal MyChart is far from offering a simplistic and engaging experience, organizations want to build from what Epic, as a platform, has to offer and fill in the gaps where needed. Customization is necessary to appeal to their unique brand and customer needs. They want to capitalize on their investments in Epic. They want to exploit all features including geo-location, quick check-ins, and family record management. Epic is going to be the starting point, or a core dependency, of any patient digital experience. Providers are looking for ways to embed and integrate Epic’s features with other platforms and technologies to improve patient care and streamline operations.

Funding is Limited Requiring Creative Cost Management

Funding was a common pain point among attendees at the conference. Lessons from the previous couple years were harsh. Many overspent and failed to recuperate returns on their digital investments. Most providers reported having limited budgets for innovation and improvement projects going forward. They are now being selective about where and how to spend. Some are entertaining creative ways to reduce costs by being open to sharable solutions. Few brought up the idea of co-ownership of digital products. Their rationale was that everyone needs products like a digital front door, why not co-build it. Aside from product co-ownership, licensing and subscriptions were favorable means to advance digital footprint. In the event where providers have to build their own products, they would like to have the opportunity to license it out themselves to balance upfront costs. Providers are looking for cost-efficient solutions that can be easily integrated into their existing systems.

To conclude, the ViVE 2024 conference on healthcare innovation highlighted several key takeaways from healthcare providers and systems. Every takeaway centered on one main theme – how to improve the overall patient experience and engagement. With these insights, healthcare providers can continue to improve patient experience and deliver better outcomes.

Photo credit: Vive.


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