Healthcare organizations can no longer rely on their institutional reputation or quality of medical care metrics if they hope to compete in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry. That’s because more patients are assessing providers based on customer service and their digital experience, with 82% of patients saying that “quality customer service is the most important factor they consider when choosing care.”
Research on healthcare software underscores this notion. A recent survey found that an estimated 50% of patients say that “a bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins the entire experience with that provider.”
Given the intense feelings associated with poorly designed patient software, it is essential that executives concerned with the patient experience embrace robust, easy-to-use healthcare software solutions that streamlines their experience from appointment setting to provider followup.
Executives that embrace robust patient engagement platforms will see tremendous benefits. That’s because healthcare organizations that “discover and apply customer insights” into their healthcare software “are 5x more likely to grow revenue” compared to organizations that don’t utilize customer insights.
Healthcare executives can use the following guide to design powerful patient engagement platforms that increase efficiency and improve the patient experience.
Introducing the Patient Engagement Platform
The patient engagement platform is the most important type of software in the healthcare industry. This integrative software combines several aspects of medical record-keeping, billing, provider communication, and patient self-service options into a single web portal.
Custom patient engagement platforms, like those built by I-ology, help hospitals streamline their administrative and medical processes alike–while simultaneously putting patients in the driver’s seat of their medical care.
Organizations that have not yet embraced digital transformation and who lack self-service software will suffer in patient satisfaction metrics and reduced growth. Research backs this up: an estimated 72% of healthcare organization executives believe that “digital customer engagement is only going to become more important to their organization.”
Read on to learn more about these user-friendly digital healthcare solutions and their impact on patient engagement and satisfaction.
Improve Patient Engagement
Many hospital systems and doctor’s offices have implemented these custom digital healthcare solutions because of the cost savings. That’s because patient engagement platforms are proven to reduce staffing requirements, eliminate time spent answering phone calls, increase profits, and improve patient health outcomes.
But, these patient portals are also a valuable tool for increasing patient satisfaction and quality of care metrics. That’s because this type of program allows patients to take their healthcare into their own hands–without the front office middleman of the past.
Today, patients can utilize their online portal to schedule appointments and request prescriptions, pay bills, message their doctor, and more.
Self-service scheduling is one of the most important aspects of a quality patient engagement platform. While many medical practices took the patient experience for granted in the past, the patients of today expect the same high-quality customer service and seamless technology that they are used to in other customer-facing industries.
Long gone are the days of 30-minute telephone wait times and clunky scheduling processes. Today’s consumers expect their medical providers to offer robust self-service scheduling options–eliminating the need for long hold times and old-fashioned phone calls. In fact, a recent survey found that 43% of patients prefer to book their medical appointments online–with that number expected to rise rapidly in the coming years.
This new expectation is why 100% of the top 100 U.S. health systems offer self-service scheduling options, while 50% of smaller medical practices offer the same service.
Healthcare executives can improve their organization’s patient experience by implementing self-service appointment scheduling options into their patient engagement platform. This also has the added benefit of minimizing staff time spent on scheduling phone calls–reducing the front office budget and improving morale.
Robust patient engagement platforms, like those built by I-ology, offer more than just self-service appointment scheduling. They also allow patients to quickly message their doctor or nurse practitioner for a rapid response.
Patients report using the digital platform’s messaging feature to request prescription refills, ask for doctor’s notes and electronic health records transfers, solicit care instructions, ask over-the-counter medication questions, and follow up on recent appointments.
Doctors and nurses love this digital communication as well. They no longer have to play phone tag with their patient or drag their colleagues out of meetings to ask a time-sensitive question.
Medical Records Access
One of the most often overlooked, but essential functions of a patient engagement platform is medical record access. Without such a robust web portal, patients would have to manually request medical records from their primary care provider.
Often, this requires calling their provider, requesting a form, and submitting the signed form to the office for their HIPAA record-keeping. This is a time-consuming and frustrating step.
However, the introduction of patient engagement platforms disrupted this process. Today, doctors and nurses enter patient medical information into their off-the-shelf software during the appointment. This information is automatically filed, uploaded to the patient folder, and is made available for immediate viewing and downloading by the patient using I-ology’s custom systems integration.
This change in medical record keeping revolutionized patient care. Patient engagement platforms make it even easier for patients to access their records and take control of their own health outcomes–resulting in a happier and happy patient.
Bill Pay Options
Self-service bill pay options are another beloved feature of modern patient engagement platforms. By streamlining the billing and payment process, this web application saves valuable staff time and improves patient satisfaction metrics. That’s because this self-service is such a dramatic improvement over the past bill paying process.
Previously, patients rarely received a bill other than their insurance co-pay at the time of service. Instead, they had to wait for their doctors office to reconcile their services with their insurance policy–resulting in a mailed bill weeks down the line. The patient could only pay the bill by sending in a check or giving their credit card information to the billing department over the phone, frequently after a long wait on hold.
However, modern doctors offices now upload patient bills online. The patient engagement platforms sends an email to the patient notifying them of the bill and giving them the option of paying it online–a process that takes less than five minutes. This saves valuable patient time and simultaneously improves patient satisfaction.
It can also enable offices to reduce accounting staff numbers, since such a larger portion of their job is automated through this digital healthcare solution.
Telehealth, which refers to a medical appointment conducted over the phone or video chat, was long seen as an inferior option compared to traditional, in-person appointments. Insurance companies and regulators alike viewed this service as inferior. As a result, many state regulators refused to allow these appointments and several major insurance companies refused to cover them.
However, the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. For the first time in the digital age, a viral pandemic was overwhelming hospital systems across the world. This led to dramatic and unprecedented changes in patient care. The widespread adoption of telehealth is among the most important of these developments.
Since the start of the global coronavirus pandemic, the use of telehealth has grown to 38 times its pre-pandemic levels. Just as importantly, roughly 80% of people intend to continue to use virtual healthcare visits even after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Healthcare systems that offer telehealth options can improve their patient experience and satisfaction metrics. That’s because many small issues, like medication requests, doctor’s notes, and follow-ups can be completed digitally and without the need to risk infection during a pandemic.
Research also demonstrates the continued importance of in-person options for their patients. That’s because while an estimated 87% of respondents reported high satisfaction with their telehealth visits, 82% of patients still prefer in-person appointments when their schedule allows. Hospitals can meet both types of expectations by offering patients the choice between an in-person and video appointment.
As the healthcare industry continues to grow and the US population ages, customer service and patient-centric technology will become even more important for organizational success. Executives can embrace digital transformation today by working closely with their IT team to develop custom patient engagement platforms and digital healthcare solutions with extensive self-service options.
Executives who take this transformation seriously and build-out intuitive software for their patients will see benefits almost immediately. These include increased profits and new patient numbers, reduced staff costs, and improved patient satisfaction results.
Just as importantly, organizations will witness dramatic improvements in patient surveys, reduced wait times, improved health outcomes, and higher hospital rankings.
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