Patient Access: Creating a Better Patient Experience
In 2017, four in 10 individuals completed healthcare-related activities online. Over one-third accessed their provider online. A surprising three out of 10 individuals communicated with providers via text message.
When a patient can’t access their provider, it’s impossible to receive adequate medical care. That’s why today’s healthcare consumers are seeking convenient patient access. They want and expect easy access to scheduling, information, and customer service.
To stay profitable and competitive in this shifting landscape, healthcare organizations must succeed in digital transformation.
Healthcare consumerism is on the rise as patients are now also customers. And health systems must treat them as such.
What is Patient Access?
Put simply patient access is the ability to ensure that patients can obtain timely care from the right provider in a convenient location.
In the digital age, medical organizations have evolved for many different reasons. One is to provide patients with new ways of managing their healthcare experience.
There have been major advances in patient access software in recent years. Health systems can now achieve their goal of providing better patient access without putting a strain on limited resources by using automation and smart technology. Additionally, patients are increasingly coming to expect these as the standard, so providing better patient access through automation and smart technology ultimately improves the overall patient experience.
Benefits of Improving Patient Access
Improving patient access doesn’t only increase satisfaction for patients. It also leads to improved revenue for health systems.
Improved Schedule Management
For any working adult, healthcare office hours aren’t always convenient. Things pop up at work, or a child unexpectedly needs to be picked up. In most cases, patients will cancel or simply not show up instead of contacting the office to reschedule.
In this new consumer-driven healthcare environment, patients expect on-demand access and modern conveniences. This expectation extends to their healthcare providers. By offering patients a new level of access to your scheduling system, they’re more likely to show up. The more convenient the process, the higher your revenue will be.
These on-demand scheduling management programs also work to ensure that your providers do not go unscheduled.
Health systems that take advantage of patient scheduling software to increase patient access are in a position to succeed over facilities and offices that don’t.
Close Care Gaps in Rural Areas
About 60 million, or 1 in 5 Americans, live in a low populated area.
These areas are not likely to provide many healthcare options. This means that Americans living in these areas are less likely to see a doctor.
These geographic barriers have led to technological advancements in telemedicine. Now, patients have access to their healthcare providers through their computer or smartphones. Most of the visits take place over video calls.
Also, small health systems in rural areas use telemedicine to consult experts. By consulting with doctors in metropolitan areas, they are able to provide specialized care.
Improved Access to Education
Many times, patients aren’t receiving the right care because they’re not looking in the right places. It’s important that organizations educate patients. Doing so ensures that they schedule the right type of appointment with the right provider.
Studies show that many patients do not know where they should seek care for various symptoms. As health systems continue to grow many are adding alternative treatment sites to their offerings. This is great and has a positive impact on the patient experience, but they need to make sure their patients know where to go.
Educated consumers should be able to correctly choose between an emergency department or an urgent care facility based on their needs.
The best urgent care centers and hospitals are investing in patient education materials. They are now a part of their marketing plans.
Hospitals want to clear their emergency rooms, only treating actual emergencies. Urgent care centers want to reserve their appointments for non-emergencies that need attention. Clinics need people to make appointments for ongoing and non-life threatening issues.
When treating patients at the right facility at the right time, providers are happier. Patients are also happier because they don’t have to wait as long and will have a more positive experience.
Overcome Transportation Barriers
Health systems concerned about patient access are also beginning to address transportation barriers.
Each year, around 3.6 million Americans miss an appointment, no-show, or delay care due to a lack of transportation. This statistic applies to individuals who live in all areas of the country.
Common transportation barriers include long-distance travel, lack of a vehicle, and inadequate infrastructure. These barriers keep patients from accessing their providers and affects their health and wellbeing. In fact, transportation often results in the majority of no-shows for a healthcare organization.
Increasingly, health systems are evaluating transportation solutions and integrating them into their strategic plans. They’re beginning to partner with community organizations and larger companies. This partnership is to promote and provide better transportation services.
In some cases and places, health systems taking on transportation challenges directly is not even necessary. Some of the biggest names in transportation services, such as Uber and Lyft, are setting up programs to help patients access healthcare.
Ensure a Better Patient Experience
Hospitals with higher patient experience and access scores generate more revenue.
Healthcare systems should approach patient access systematically. This improves both patient and staff satisfaction.
To work toward improving the patient experience in your healthcare organization these are the big ideas to keep in mind:
1. Upgrade Technology
New technology is leading the push for improved patient access. Upgrading technology is where you should begin. This is especially true if your organization is just beginning to strategically focus on improving patient access.
When evaluating new technology, you should consider the total cost of implementation into your organization. This cost includes ease of use and how well it will integrate with existing technologies. With the right software in place, you can significantly lighten the workload of your staff, which frees them up to provide better patient care.
2. Automate Manual Work
Time is critical to your staff, but to your patients as well. Investing in automated solutions to common problems is one way that technology can be leveraged to save time and, ultimately, money. The big idea here is your systems should make employees more efficient, not slow them down. Automated and smart solutions streamline processes and improve workflows.
The most common task to tackle with automation is manual data entry, but new automation technology is pushing boundaries to allow providers to engage patients before their scheduled appointment. Through automated text reminder systems they can also assist in reminding patients about upcoming appointments, rescheduling cancellations, and rebooking no-shows.
3. Introduce Real-Time Analytics
You can’t improve the patient experience if your staff doesn’t have real-time information. This includes information such as patient medical history, registration status, and appointment history.
Access to this data helps staff members focus on work tasks. In turn, this makes patient activities more efficient. Patients will wait less at the registration desk, and providers will see them in a more timely manner.
These analytics also help organizations measure the performance of individual staff members as well as technology solutions. They also enable health systems to increase productivity.
Provide Excellent Care and Improve Productivity
It’s time to view your patients as customers.
Positive patient experiences are vital to the success of your healthcare organization. A methodical strategy geared to improve patient access directly affects this outcome.
Providing the right care at the perfect time is essential to value-based care. With better patient access, healthcare consumers are happier with their experience. They also may see a decreased likelihood of worsening medical issues. Going to the doctor becomes less of a hassle!
Empower your patients with the right software solution.
With the right product, patients will have access to their providers, appointment information, and automated rescheduling tools. You will experience fewer no-shows, increased productivity, and happier staff and care providers.
Schedule a demo today to see what’s possible with QueueDr for yourself!