A glance at the news will likely throw up stories of overcrowded hospitals, long ER visits, and endless NHS waiting lists. These paint a disheartening picture of the industry.
Consider the UK. In 2021, 117,000 patients died last year waiting for care on the NHS.
Unfortunately, with significant staff shortages, the chances of the NHS improving upon these figures in 2022 are slim.
So, what is the answer? Some solutions may lie in the following five patient care trends.
1. Integrated Care Systems Gain Momentum
After having a COVID vaccination, patients across the UK and US receive a card as proof. A nice throwback? Perhaps, but more likely, a sign of the disjointed nature of healthcare systems.
After all, the unfortunate truth is that with many partners and disparate systems, complexity is embedded into the heart of healthcare, often resulting in fragmented patient experiences.
To get ahead of this issue, the NHS announced the launch of Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). These split the UK residents into 42 groups, where local health providers and their technology partners collectively design health and care systems to meet patient needs.
Such thinking aims to inspire collaboration between local services, NHS 111, hospital providers, primary carers, ambulance teams and other care teams. Achieving this is a considerable challenge.
Fortunately, the space is making headway, according to Mark Jordan, Managing Director of Babble Contact. He says:
Now, you see many working groups within healthcare where people sit together who didn’t have any direct dialogue two or three years ago, working through problems. Cloud technology, interoperability, and data sharing are at the centre of these conversations.
Indeed, healthcare providers are prioritizing interoperability and offering increased access to data while making it simpler to reach through APIs. Getting that data into a repository, allowing real-time analytics to drive automation – that is where the industry is heading.
2. Collaboration Accelerates Positive Transformation
Integrating various systems across many the functions of numerous healthcare providers is a daunting process. But collaboration in healthcare should not end there.
For instance, collaboration helps functions put performance into context. Of course, performance data – alongside all types of medical data – requires the utmost care. Yet, if medical teams can work together to benchmark performance, functions can uncover what is working and what is not.
The Harvard Business Review suggests another significant “benefit of collaboration between hospitals is that the improvement agenda is set by those delivering care.”
In addition, collaboration enables enhanced problem-solving, peer learning, and idea creation.
A UC platform that runs between many different functions can be the cornerstone to such collaboration – connecting clinicians and other experts with pre-built integrations.
Building on this point, Thomas John, Vice President of Partner Sales at Five9, adds:
What Five9 and Babble can do is integrate the contact centre with Microsoft Teams, facilitating a central knowledge hub and bringing video into play.
Finally, avoid thinking of collaboration as an initiative between healthcare functions; patients may also have a role. Indeed, interactive care empowers patients to have more control over their experiences by making them an intrinsic part of the care team, removing strain from health workers.
3. Virtual Agents Cut Some of the Slack
Many innovations aim to lower the burden on healthcare teams. Virtual nurses are an excellent example, completing some of the work that does not require hands on the patient. These could include admissions and discharges in the hospital setting or patient-family communication.
Yet, let’s step back for a moment and consider those repetitive, low-priority calls that clog-up the phone lines at medical practices across the globe. Appointment bookings, prescription refills, and insurance queries. These all offer an excellent opportunity for automation.
Virtual agents will become a critical technology here. Of course, easy escalation to a human is crucial, as healthcare deals with many vulnerable patients. However, a modern IVA enables this while lowering the burden on medical support staff and offering 24/7 service.
Healthcare teams can also employ bots to automate parts of other queries. As Jordan says:
Even when it is not possible to automate the entire query, a voice bot can collect patient information upfront to streamline the consequent interaction.
Finally, virtual agents can also automate outbound SMS messaging, including appointment reminders, to maximize healthcare efficiency and reassure patients.
4. Prediction Becomes Paramount
From risk scoring for chronic diseases to supporting clinical decision-making, many use cases for predictive analytics are emerging.
An excellent example is suicide prevention. After pooling conversational data, patient behaviour patterns, and electronic health records, healthcare companies can use predictive analytics tools to uncover critical warning signs.
Much of this conversational data comes from speech analytics systems. By monitoring patient conversations, the technology tracks emerging patient issues and passes on potentially critical information to healthcare leaders.
Storing this data and tracking the patient lifecycle through CRM integrations is a critical step forwards for the industry, John believes. He states:
A CRM paired with an omnichannel CCaaS solution enables the collection of a broader customer data set – while they can contact you any way they like. Such a database also paves the way for much more sophisticated analytics projects.
Finally, predictive analytics is critical in modern workforce management systems, enabling
better staff utilization, improved productivity, and lower waiting times.
5. Data & Analytics Support Health Equity
The pandemic shone a light on the health disparities that exist in many countries, particularly across metrics such as mortality, hospitalisation, and vaccine hesitancy rates.
Such disparities caused many healthcare providers to consider which metrics they monitor and whether they should track differences in average length of stay, maternal health, and child mortality rates across various segments. By doing so, they can attempt to understand the underlying causes.
Lots of energy – therefore – goes into data and analytics and patient segmentation, understanding social detriments of health that contribute to inequities.
From this, companies can take steps to understand issues that cause strain on healthcare services and create community service resource networks to address problems.
Partner With Five9 on Healthcare
These are just five trends that Five9 have picked up from working with healthcare providers.
Indeed, there are many others that the vendor is helping its clients to meet, including telehealth, proactive patient engagement, and omnichannel support.
Thankfully, through its Five9 for Healthcare suite, the vendor offers an array of technologies and services to accelerate transformation initiatives in the sector.
To learn more, visit: www.five9.com