Tuesday, August 29 | Thought Leadership, Human Services, Partnerships and Collaboration

Extreme Usability II: Enhancing the Client Experience

By Neal Tilghman, Senior Director and GM Addictions and Mental Health

My colleague Tricia Zerger recently wrote a blog discussing the importance and value of enhancing the user experience. She made excellent points about how good design makes not only a better experience for clinicians, it also improves care delivery in general. When I read Tricia’s blog, I was reminded of the old saying in real estate: there are three things that matter when selling homes: location, location, location. Likewise, in our current digital world, , the three things that matter most are workflow, workflow, workflow. Only now, those workflows and user experience are not to limited to just clinicians but also the consumers of care. Clinicians and consumers expect the same user experiences we all encounter daily with e-commerce, banking, social media and apps for specialized activities.

It is about ease of use, intuitive design and delivering value for both the clinician and the consumer.

If the past few years has taught us anything, it is that consumers of healthcare want to access care their way. We live in a digital world which is impacting how we deliver care.  For example, over the past several years the expansion of telehealth has continued to gain momentum.  We are now in an environment that telehealth is considered the norm or at a minimum a preferred option for both the patient and the clinician.   In fact, most people not only liked it, but many did better clinically in part because they dropped out of treatment less often. This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the main things that contribute to premature dropout from behavioral health treatment aren’t related to clinical care per se, they are customer service related. Providers are rightly focused on giving excellent care, but they often forget that just the act of going to an office for an appointment entails a lot of non-clinical stuff. Things like getting to the appointment, arranging childcare, finding a parking space, and checking in for the appointment are all activities that add “friction” to a clinical encounter, and it is these things that often cause consumers to stop coming to their appointments. All those went away with the pivot to telehealth and as a result, premature dropouts decreased.

Now that telehealth is more of a norm, as Tricia indicated our digital strategy cannot just include enhancements to telehealth but must include specialized solutions that keep the individual engaged and as an active participant in their treatment.  Patient portals that foster dialogue, that make it easy to securely share and submit data via assessments and surveys, and that have integrated “self-help” apps are key.

Netsmart is committed to meeting the new and varied needs of providers by developing solutions that meet them where they are, which is often not in an office providing “fifty-minute hour” sessions but also solutions that enhance the clinical process by delivering the right data at the right time. The same is true for consumers. Having had a taste of virtual services, many consumers will want to continue virtual care and prefer much broader digital experiences. Providers are now challenged to differentiate between those consumers who do better, do the same or do worse when care is virtual because this is the new normal. But clinicians would be well advised to take what the consumer wants into this calculation because that may have a bigger effect on treatment outcomes than more traditional clinical considerations.             


About the Author

Neal Tilghman, Senior Director & GM, Integrated Care

As General Manager of Integrated Care, Neal Tilghman endorses a client focused and strategic market model around Netsmart’s solutions with a keen awareness of the current state of behavioral health, addictions treatment and physical health, while maintaining a forward-looking approach as to where our clients need to be and how we get them there with the appropriate technology. Neal completed his graduated studies at East Carolina University and has 30 years of experience in behavioral health.

Meet the Author

Neal Tilghman Blog Photo
Neal Tilghman · Senior Director and GM Addictions and Mental Health

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