By Patrick Creagh, Marketing Specialist

Any software developer will espouse to you the value of user engagement. As a metric, it defines the level of product usage on the individual and collective level, and leveraging engagement metrics can be used to forecast future behavior, diagnose potential problems before they fester, and deliver an exceptional customer experience.

No wonder healthcare is eager to engage their “users.”

Currently, the biggest challenge facing patient engagement advocates is the number of sheer possibilities surrounding the concept. Like most concepts that trickle down from the retail sector into healthcare, approaches to user engagement in business are so developed and customized that a healthcare CIO has endless possibilities to improve patient experience with the application of one or several technologies.

The best part is that patients are ready to be engaged. Though most healthcare providers only recently adopted electronic health records, during that time the average American became computer-literate to the extent that e-Commerce, social media, and online correspondence are practically universal concepts.

As a 24 year old, I grew up side by side with the Internet, and over the past decade I’ve had little contact with snail mail and paper checks. The doctor’s office and the DMV are the last 2 places I can remember filling out physical paperwork. Lack of interoperability and standardization among health records places the former slightly ahead, in terms of technology.

Healthcare providers, for their part, have begun to roll out their own engagement solutions like online patient portals. These portals are a great start because they allow a patient to take advantage of having their medical records and access to their provider at their fingertips. From a clinical perspective, patients are now starting to have real online visibility into their care delivery.

But this blog is not about the current state of patient engagement- it’s a vision for the future.

Because healthcare lags the private sector in (customer-experience related) technology, we can look to just about any consumer-focused industry to discover opportunities to improve the patient experience. The patient experience, by the way, includes so much more than the clinical aspects of care.

The future of patient engagement should include a digital accompaniment to every aspect of care delivery. From seeking out a provider to scheduling an appointment to managing prescriptions to paying medical bills, a patient should not need more than a smartphone with an Internet connection.  As providers race to catch up to the technology demands of the 21st century, the ones who will succeed will be those who not only meet but also exceed the expectations of consumer-minded healthcare shoppers.

The path to this vision has many routes, whether it is a single software solution or a combination of patient tools; however, any consumer software guru will advocate seamless functionality and integration as the ultimate driver of user engagement.

It’s time to start think about patients as healthcare users.

Learn how Patientco can help you automate your patient payment process here.