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Our Take

Meet the rising bar for virtual patient experience

15 Minute Read

Most patients today report high satisfaction with virtual visits. But as the virtual care market expands to include not only local competitors, but disruptors who have made significant investments in designing an optimal virtual experience, the bar for what constitutes a positive virtual patient experience will rise. Read on for three imperatives for how health care organizations can keep up with evolving patient expectations.


The conventional wisdom

The Covid-19 pandemic has cemented telehealth as a widespread care delivery option, with millions of patients trying virtual visits for the first time. As a result, patient interest in telehealth has increased across all demographics and health care services.

Patient interest in telehealth

76% of patients who have tried telehealth report that they are interested in using telehealth again in the future

69% of patients want their clinicians to offer more telehealth services as an alternative to in-person visits, even after the pandemic

60% of patients would consider a virtual visit in lieu of a one-day wait time to see their regular clinician in person

It’s not just that patient interest in telehealth is high; consumer surveys have shown that patient satisfaction with virtual visits is high as well. And it’s not hard to see why. Virtual visits have the potential to overcome many of the shortcomings of today’s in-person care experience, such as limited scheduling options, travel time and costs, and long office wait times.

Patient satisfaction with virtual visits

74% of patients who have tried a virtual visit report high satisfaction


Our take

Telehealth is now an essential component of even a basic patient engagement and retention strategy. While the safety and convenience of virtual visits equates to high patient satisfaction amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the convenience factor alone will not necessarily be enough in the long-term. The bar for virtual patient experience is only going to rise.

Clinical executives cannot assume that they’ve locked in patient loyalty simply by offering telehealth services. That’s because telehealth doesn’t just give patients more convenient access to their current health care provider—telehealth unlocks convenient patient access to health systems in other regions, as well as to lowcost, well-funded disruptors that have been innovating on virtual experiences much longer than the average health care organization.

Additionally, patients will increasingly compare their telehealth experiences to their virtual experiences outside of health care altogether. These experiences include: the speed of on-demand transportation and food delivery services; or the level of interactivity on social media platforms; or the seamless integration of consumers’ information across cell phones, personal computers, and apps, to name a few.

The bottom line: as patients gain more experience with virtual care, they will become more discerning about what constitutes a positive virtual patient experience. Now is the time for health care organizations to invest in creating a differentiated virtual patient experience and to capitalize on their patient relationships—while those patients are still theirs.


Three imperatives to meet the rising bar for virtual patient experience

For health care organizations to remain competitive, they must keep up with evolving patient expectations for virtual visits. Below are three imperatives to start building toward a higher virtual patient experience ambition—one that goes beyond the convenience factor.

  • Imperative

    Ready patients for virtual care

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  • Imperative

    Respect patients’ time

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  • Imperative

    Reimagine the patient-provider relationship

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Parting thoughts

The foundations of patient experience strategy are still relevant for telehealth—and arguably even more important to get right virtually.

In this report, we’ve outlined strategies to keep up with the rising bar for virtual patient experience. However, there are two foundational patient experience best practices that organizations would be remiss not to adapt for virtual care:

  1. Practicing patient-centered communication: Patient-centered communication tactics that clinicians are well-versed in are just as applicable for virtual visits. While there are some nuances for virtual visits (such as looking at the camera versus the screen to show eye contact), a back-to-basics patient communication strategy is foundational to a positive virtual patient experience—and emphasizing communication techniques that clinicians already know can help them feel better equipped to deliver virtual care. Clinician comfort during virtual visits will help drive patient comfort.
    For tips on how clinicians can improve their “webside manner,” access our infographic.
  2. Measuring patient experience: Similar to in-person care, measuring patient experience is critical to benchmarking and understanding patients evolving expectations. However, most existing in-person patient experience surveys will not capture the nuances of telehealth patient experience. In lockstep with developing a virtual experience strategy, design telehealth experience surveys focused on assessing the unique elements of the telehealth patient journey (e.g. “Did you receive the pre-visit technology instructions?” “Did you find them helpful?”).

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