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Customer Experience and Design

The 2 Act Play of Telehealth Patient Engagement


Many healthcare organizations have implemented telehealth pilots and programs under the premise of “if we build it they will come”. Unfortunately, patients are demonstrating that they will not engage without the correct onboarding infrastructure. This infrastructure is based off of two key elements or, shall we say, acts of this great play towards healthcare everywhere.

Act 1: Build Consumer Awareness

No two patient populations are the same. Therefore, creating a plan that generates awareness amongst your unique patient population, or sets of patient populations, and draws them towards a first interaction is key to igniting telehealth engagement. It’s easy to understand that what will work in New York City will not work within southern Mississippi. However, it is much harder for organizations to consider that what will work in Wassau, Wisconsin will not work in Madison, Wisconsin just a short two hour drive away.

Using models for converting unknown consumers into patients and utilizing telehealth systems as population health enablers, an organization must design consumer awareness programs that are the right fit for their unique patient engagement challenges.

Act 2: Create Habit Forming Technology

When you think about it, some social media and mobile technologies have motivated us to do some pretty bizarre behaviors as daily habits. Over the span of just a few short years, billions are using these technologies as day-to-day habits that require little to no conscious thought. How’d the Facebooks and Mint.coms of the world do it?

Creating habit forming technologies requires us to consider the hook model, and the brain science it depends on, to create technologies that change habits. This requires us to consider telehealth in a completely different light. Most provider organizations are looking for the telehealth vendor or homegrown system that will meet their internal needs. In doing so they are forgetting that this system must provide ongoing value, through a habitualized system, for telehealth to meet the aims of lower cost care. A content strategy specifically tailored to making telehealth technologies habit forming will do just that.

Steering Clear of Comedy and Tragedy

The number of patients using telehealth services is expected to jump from the 350,000 in 2013 to about seven million by 2018. One gregarious healthcare CEO has been quoted as saying that upwards of 80% of care will be online in ten years. However, there are still some barriers preventing its wide-spread use. The main barrier, as shown from telehealth pilots within our industry, is a lack of patient adoption, and without patient adoption we have no telehealth play at all.

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Melody Smith Jones

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