Self-scheduling is a high-priority enhancement for hospitals and health systems seeking to elevate patient access…
Striving to meet revenue goals, improve the patient experience, and address staffing and labor challenges means healthcare organizations are under immense pressure. Some are accomplishing these aims by prioritizing what consumers want from healthcare. Reports show that while the industry is getting closer to meeting consumer and patient expectations, there is still work to be done.
What consumers want from healthcare
There are a few functions top-of-mind for patients, such as digital communication with their providers, self-service functionality for things like appointment scheduling and prescription refills, and more streamlined access to manage their care. These capabilities are vital to health systems’ digital front door strategies, because when the patient experience soars, so do care and quality outcomes as well as visit volumes. At the same time, many digital functions that drive patient satisfaction simultaneously benefit overworked staff members by relieving them of manual, time-consuming tasks.
What’s the hold-up?
Patients want to manage their care, including self-scheduling and self-rescheduling appointments, through digital, asynchronous communication channels that connect them with their care teams. But these capabilities may not be available in the first place. If they are, they aren’t as convenient as they could be—for instance, patients may have access to request appointments via a patient portal, which requires a login and password and can be cumbersome to navigate. In other cases, these common interactions are fielded by over-burdened staff members. For example, healthcare teams often juggle high inbound call volumes, recall patients who are due or overdue for care, and manually manage rescheduling requests—all while providing direct patient care and supporting colleagues and providers. This is a huge problem given rampant burnout among this group (data has shown that 14% of clerical staff and 7% of administrators intend to resign in the next two years). Given this trend, healthcare organizations should consider what they can do to “hand over the keys” to patients and alleviate their staff’s workload.
Why now is the right time to grant patients “admin access” to manage their care
There is a simple way to address patient expectations and mitigate the administrative burden on staff members. By automating common, time-consuming interactions for a variety of care needs—and doing so via preferred channels like SMS text—self-service healthcare access becomes a reality. Automated patient engagement technology blends the latest workflow innovations with two-way digital communication that lets patients take the wheel. Because patients can respond to their care team’s outreach and do things like self-schedule appointments right from a text, these individuals are granted more control over their care. And it’s all powered by the EHR, meaning staff can take advantage of the systems they already use every day without additional, manual data entry.
Vik Krishnan expands upon this trend and explains what hospitals and health systems can do today to address what consumers want from healthcare. Read his latest article in HIT Consultant here.