Bahrain continues to see rapid growth of around 10 per cent per annum in the healthcare sector, according to an Oxford Business Group report.
The latest estimates from Gartner are that healthcare providers in the Middle East and Africa will spend $2.8 billion on IT products and services this year, an increase of 2.8 per cent over last year, reported the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
According to Gartner spending is expected to be concentrated on areas like building patient databases, mobile health, and preventive and diagnostic healthcare technologies, there is a dire need for healthcare providers to invest in patient engagement technologies.
Interactive Intelligence territory manager for Middle East and Turkey Shaheen Haque said the healthcare industry is no stranger to rapid evolution and for ages, providers have had to react quickly to innovations.
‘While employing the most skilled professionals and investing in the latest facilities goes a long way in establishing brand image, there are today many more factors that play a role in drawing in patients.
‘Through the Internet and social media, patients are smarter, more educated shoppers.
‘Before they make a choice about a healthcare provider, they research their options through various channels in an effort to ensure they make the most educated and appropriate decision,’ he said.
‘Once the decision is made and the service is provided, the customer experience helps guarantee future business with both them and their peers.’
Experts say regulations, privacy challenges, and increasing research and technology, have all caused the healthcare industry to change regularly.
‘Similarly, patients expectations continue to change in an effort to get quicker access to information they require,’ Haque said.
The idea of patient engagement is providing patients with access and allowing them to communicate with the provider at the time and in a manner they prefer. The downfall for many providers is waiting for patients to reach out to them before they provide information.
Cost-cutting measures, penalties, and potential loss of business are creating an increasing need for automation around engagement practices.
‘Healthcare providers have to be able to provide a secure, efficient, and effective process to engage with patients if they hope to attract and retain their business,’ he said.
‘Whether large or small, every healthcare organisation has a customer service centre that plays a critical role in helping expand patient engagement strategies.
‘The contact centre now serves as the core of the customer service arena and can be leveraged as a tool to achieve customer engagement excellence ‘“ if steps are taken to turn it into a platform for innovation.
‘Through increased integration, improved customer service strategies, and assessment of current business processes, organisations in Bahrain can make the decision to move to a more innovative and proactive strategy for patient engagement,’ he added.