Three is the magic number of wishes a person is typically granted in fairytales and stories. But if you ask patients what they’d wish for in terms of healthcare improvements, three wishes wouldn’t be enough to cover even a fraction of their demands. Even by narrowing the parameters to just asking patients about their preferences regarding healthcare communication, it is difficult to whittle patients’ wishes down to just three—trust us, we tried. Instead, we identified ten communications that patients wish providers would prioritize as they feel this would lead to better healthcare interactions.
According to survey results, a patient’s wish list for provider-driven communications include:
- Clearer communication about lab results
- Recommendations about which preventive services are needed
- The option to communicate by texting or using an online chat feature
- Automated messages with prompts to take specific actions (for example, schedule an appointment)
- Personalized recommendations based on the unique needs of individuals
- Help understanding current and target health metrics
- Medication reminders
- Communications that support chronic disease monitoring and management (for example, online survey check-ins)
- Explanation of covered-by-insurance costs vs. out-of-pocket costs
- Help understanding and paying medical bills
Interestingly, these wishes can be grouped into three main categories of healthcare communication: routine and preventive outreach, disease management support and financial communications. So, the option to have three wishes granted (if applied loosely) might actually be enough to meet patients’ expectations.
Across the board, patients report that providers could do a much better job of delivering communications that meet their expectations. For example, although eight in ten patients feel strongly that providers should clearly communicate what services are covered by insurance vs. owed by patients, 31 percent of Americans say the healthcare professionals they visit do a fair or poor job helping them understand what they will have to pay out of pocket. Also, while 78 percent of patients say it’s extremely or very important for their healthcare provider to make recommendations for them based on their individual needs, 26 percent of patients say their providers do this poorly. Another 8 percent of patients do not feel they receive any personalized recommendations from their providers.
A key point to recognize is that healthcare teams have the ability and tools to deliver valuable communications to patients. Most healthcare teams are already using patient engagement technology to deliver appointment reminder messages. That same technology can be used to deliver communications that tick the box on every one of the above wish list items. For more information and examples of how patient engagement technology can be maximized to fulfill patients’ communications wishes, download 10 Ways to Fulfill Patients’ Communication Wish List.