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How Digital Can Improve the Patient Experience

Caucasian Mother And Her Kid Wearing Medical Masks In Clinic

As with many people, 2020 was a big year for me personally. In October, my wife and I welcomed our first child to the world. It was a C-Section, so that meant we had an extended stay at the hospital. With the COVID precautions in place, I can’t say it was a vacation-like stay. In fact, we were required to:

  • Wear a mask 24/7
  • Not able to come and go from the hospital to get outside food or air
  • No visitors or family were able to visit – FaceTime was the only option.
  • All DoorDash or outside food orders had to be sanitized before entering hospital grounds.

It was great getting home from the hospital and being back in our bed rather than being on a foldable chair for 5 days. We were home for about 3 weeks, adjusting to the new life of parenthood, until we both woke up feeling sluggish, achy, and lacking smell. We immediately went to a rapid-testing site to get COVID tests, son in the backseat, and we pretty much knew the news we were expecting. That night we got the phone call that we tested positive. We had read all over the news and from friends that we shouldn’t worry about our newborn because “babies don’t get it,” or “babies don’t have symptoms.”

Around two in the morning our son was crying and when I picked him up, he was clearly burning up. We checked his temp several times and it was 101 degrees – very high for a baby. The hospital had us go to the closest hospital to have him admitted. This is where it felt like life was falling apart.

Our Physical and Digital Experience

We were in the COVID ward, everyone wearing full-on protective suits, and watched them try to put an IV in his little hand. They didn’t have a child care unit, so after 4 hours of him struggling with the pricks and pokes, they had us move him to a different facility that had a Pediatric Center.

My wife and son were in the hospital for nearly a week with no visitors allowed. Trying to get food sent to my wife was nearly impossible. DoorDash was my best friend, but the food was always cold because of how long it took to get the food to the room. The hospital has a fantastic food court, but there was no way to call and order that food to the room. There was a cafeteria which had a phone line. However, because friends and family are all competing to get food to their loved ones, the phone line was regularly busy or had extremely long wait times.

As much as the hospital did everything in its power to make our stay pleasant, there could have been so much more.

Here’s where the million-dollar question came to mind: “why can I not simply go to the hospital’s website and order some food from the food court and send some magazines to the room?” As a commerce and digital specialist, this seemed like a no-brainer to me.

The Million Dollar Idea and Resolution

Imagine the response patients would provide the hospital if this existed today. Families across the county (or overseas) could show their family members they care by sending flowers, a gift, some tasty food right to the patient’s door as if you were ordering from Panera (Panera has a GREAT online platform). And during unexpected times like COVID, being able to go that extra mile to show your loved ones you care, is digital health at its finest purpose. The ultimate goal with any digital enhancement, feature, or functionality is to make patients feel thought of, cared for, and overall connected. Some of my colleagues have even shared similar experiences with their healthcare journey and how small changes can make a lifetime difference.

There are levels of infrastructure that exist today at hospitals that can be built on to bring this sort of experience online. Through people (food/gift delivery), process (Change Management, Merchandising, POS), and technology (Commerce, Content, PIM) this vision could be achieved. With some digital changes, hospitals could bring peace of mind to patients everywhere, while also helping build exceptional experiences for their patients that will remove any additional boundaries.

How We Can Help

Perficient takes clients through the entire digital journey, from creating digital strategies, platform assessments, experience design, and content creation. I have seen first-hand the build of an engaging revenue-driving platform. Not only does technology have the ability to do that, but it is able to attract new visitors and optimize performance based on the insights gathered through data.

From my personal experience, I witnessed a real digital need. Thankfully, because of my career, I know that accomplishing that digital need is a reality that I can help create. Like so many people who helped me with what I needed when I needed it, we are here to help you!

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For more information on how Perficient sees commerce evolving the healthcare member experience, check out some of our content.

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Nick Horlock

Nick is a digital commerce and omnichannel specialist at Perficient. He helps Enterprise Brands along their digital journey through strategic commerce engagements, platform evaluations, and launching digital experiences.

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