In the United States, 87 percent of the population uses the Internet. Around 58 percent of adults in the United States have a smartphone. Approximately 40 percent of adults are caring for either a child or another adult with significant health issues, and of that 40 percent, 72 percent have gone online to look for health information. Technology is everywhere, and its use is only growing. Today’s health care system can benefit greatly from increasing its digital communication abilities.
Patient Portals Provide Access to Health Information
Health care facilities can develop patient portals, which allow patients to sign up and have confidential access to their individual health care information. Educational health information can be placed on the patient’s portal that is relevant to the patient’s specific health needs. Clinical summaries can be made accessible. These summaries can be a review of the patient’s last appointment or a summary of recent test results with explanations. The summaries can also include recommendations, such as the need for follow-up appointments.
Increases Communication Between Patient and Clinical Staff
Image via Flickr by NEC Corporation of America
Health care providers, once wary of using email as a communication tool, are finding that email is actually saving them great amounts of time. Responding to patient emails during downtimes is much quicker than returning phone calls. Many emails contain basic questions that can be answered quickly, or reminders to send orders to other providers.
Medication requests are also easily done through emails, which are more time-saving than phone calls.
Social Media Can Reach a Large Audience
Social media is one of the least expensive ways to disseminate information to large numbers of people. General questions can be answered, and information provided. Negative comments made on social media sites can be addressed, which can make a difference in the public opinion of your health care facility.
In times of public health crises, information can be shared that will give people the correct facts and guidance, which can help to prevent the spread of misinformation and panic.
Different Sites Can Target Different People
You have the ability to use several types of digital communication to target different groups of people. You may have a website with educational health information available for those who seek out information. You may offer videos of real people to show how a treatment works.
You could develop an app that people can use to remind them to engage in certain behaviors, like exercising or checking their blood sugar. You may provide a forum where patients with similar issues can provide each other with support. You can also pick times and do a live chat.
If you are thinking about going into the health care field, or just interested in learning more about communication, the University of Southern California at Annenberg has an online Master of Communication Management degree that can teach you not only about digital communication, but about all aspects of business communication. Communication could be the difference between a job and a notable career.