Monica Bolbjerg, MD, is the CEO and founder of Qure4u, which offers complete digital care for the entire patient journey. At this year’s SIGNAL, she shared how Twilio helps build relationships between doctors and their patients outside the doctor’s office.
Health is profoundly personal.
Imagine turning to a stranger on the street and telling them about your aches and pains, your digestive problems, or your deepest fears about the future. Unlikely, right?
And yet, in many of our most vulnerable situations — when we are sick, scared, or in crisis — we turn to people who we may have only just met, but whose expertise could save our lives.
Trust is crucial to patient engagement and the future of telemedicine.
Whether they’ve known us for years or seconds, physicians are tasked with making deeply impactful decisions with our best interest at heart. It’s a powerful reminder of just how central trust is in the patient-provider relationship.
The way we interact with physicians has evolved slowly over the years. Until early 2020, the majority of patient-provider interactions still took place in person. But that changed practically overnight when countries went into lockdown and providers around the world realized they needed a way to communicate with patients without risking exposure.
Suddenly telehealth was not just an option, it was a necessity.
ver the last 18-plus months, industry experts and digital health innovators have scrambled to stand up more robust telehealth and virtual care solutions — and an increasing number of patients are eager to use them, even now that in-person visits have resumed.
The result is an evolving patient-provider relationship that is filled with new and promising potential benefits, but also fraught with risk. Healthcare organizations in particular face a large and highly complex responsibility to protect growing streams of patient health information.
Healthcare organizations have an opportunity to turn these challenges into competitive advantages and deliver trusted telehealth experiences at scale. Here’s how.
Lay the groundwork for adoption.
When COVID-19 sent telehealth into overdrive, many providers responded by creating new ways to engage with patients digitally. But in the rush to roll out these capabilities, organizations may have spent less time ensuring patients and providers understand how to use telehealth securely and effectively.
At Qure4u, our customers are physicians and the organizations they work within. While our digital health platform is designed to improve the patient experience, we have to first empower providers in order to serve patients. To that end, we’ve created the 7 Levels of Virtual Care, a comprehensive roadmap to help providers incrementally integrate our physician-centric virtual care platform while improving patient outcomes, in-office efficiencies, and revenues.
A step-by-step approach to digital implementation allows organizations to onboard patients and staff at their own pace. For example, they may choose to fully implement the platform one department at a time, or migrate one aspect of operations across all departments. This helps support buy-in from providers, which is ultimately key to successful platform adoption.
Go above and beyond compliance.
Security, privacy, and compliance mandates could be seen as obstacles in driving product innovation and growth. But in the healthcare space, organizations have no way around them, and for good reason — fraud risks related to telehealth are on the rise, and data breaches are a huge concern no provider can afford to ignore. Security and compliance are the healthcare industry’s biggest risks and greatest competitive advantage.
I believe viewing privacy and security as jumping-off points rather than hurdles offers more opportunity to differentiate your customer experiences and gain a competitive edge in the market.
That’s why Qure4u chose to use technology with built-in security defaults as a basis for our platform. Between managing physicians, billing, and navigating the changing demands of healthcare, Providers already have a ton on their plates. Any new effort perceived as increasing their scope of work may understandably be viewed as adding to an already unmanageable to-do list. We package the security, branding, and communications components they need into a platform that is malleable enough to fit into their existing workflows, which results in time and cost savings for our users.
Regulation provides a baseline level of security — but we are always looking for ways to make Qure4u even more secure, so our customers don’t bear that responsibility alone.
Invest in reliability.
When a patient and physician are communicating, it’s likely to be in a high-stress environment where stakes are often high, and potentially life-altering. Doctors must focus on making decisions and taking the appropriate action to address the patient’s condition. In the context of relaying critical health information, there’s no room for dropped calls or undelivered messages.
And from a consumer perspective, patients expect near-perfection from technology in a healthcare setting. Multichannel communication is hugely beneficial to broadening access and adding personalization to the telehealth ecosystem, but it has to work 99.9 percent of the time — neither patient nor the provider can have a negative experience.
Investing in stable, carefully vetted vendor solutions, APIs, and plug-ins might cost more upfront, but the security and scalability of your solutions will be better for it — not to mention the relationships you’ve built with customers.
Beyond meeting the minimum privacy and security requirements, potential partners should prove the reliability and robustness of their solutions are in line with your business goals. Evaluate the risk of technical failure. Any downtime or disruption that results in a poor customer experience could negatively impact your brand. If you have any doubts about the stability of your third-party technology, it may be time to investigate other options that give you more confidence in this non-negotiable aspect of your platform.
In the long run, keeping up with the market won’t be enough to remain competitive as a healthcare provider. Organizations must create systems of trust that enable caregivers to do what they do best: improve outcomes, educate communities, and save lives—one stranger at a time.
This article was originally published by Twilio.