Time for an Upgrade: Technology’s Influence on Patient Experience in Healthcare

by | Mar 25, 2022 | healthcare software solutions, Industry Resources

Digital Healthcare Platforms Technology

Influenced by shifting consumer demands and regulatory changes, the healthcare industry continues to focus its attention on creating a better patient experience and improving patient satisfaction. While many of these efforts center on enhancing the delivery of patient care and cultivating stronger relationships between patients and providers, there are ample opportunities to leverage technology to enhance the patient experience. Delivering a convenient healthcare experience that is technology-driven is essential for your organization to improve patient satisfaction. Recent industry surveys and studies are showing that the patient experience is ready for an upgrade. This article examines why now is the time for you to evaluate technology’s role in your patient’s care journey, from pre-service to point-of-care and post-service. The article will highlight shifting patient expectations and the growing impact of patient experience on healthcare providers. It will also outline key functions that are essential to your organization’s patient engagement strategy.

New Trends Shaping Patient Engagement Strategy

Analyzing new and emerging consumer trends can help your organization quickly respond to evolving consumer needs and drive a better patient experience. Recent studies have shown that while patients still want to receive the best clinical experience, their focus is expanding beyond care. The first interactions in the healthcare journey are becoming increasingly critical to not only patient engagement, but also patient loyalty and retention. A new Harris Poll provides insights into how patients view technology’s role in delivering a convenient and empathetic experience. Here are several focus areas for your organization.

Patients are prioritizing the use of technology in their care

Among one of the key findings in the poll is how the role of technology is changing. In the past, patients viewed technology as a convenience. However, today patients view technology as a necessity. In fact, 80% of those polled wanted the ability to use technology when managing their healthcare experience. Perhaps even more telling is the role technology plays in a patient’s decision of selecting a care provider. According to the poll, 59% of consumers said a convenient experience is more important than having a designated provider. And 70% of those polled said they would consider switching to a provider that offered more appealing services. It is not that surprising given that the customer experience has been revolutionized by the online convenience of service apps from Amazon and Uber to Netflix and Airbnb. Patients are so accustomed to these digital consumer experiences that they are demanding the same convenience in their healthcare experience. The Harris poll found that 61% of consumers wanted the same experience in healthcare.

Technology is already making a difference

Unfortunately, if you haven’t started incorporating technology into your patient’s journey, you are already behind. Leading healthcare providers are successfully leveraging technology to improve patient engagement, and it’s working. According to the Harris poll, 75% of consumers said technology integration can minimize struggles by helping them with everything from getting test results and asking medical questions, to paying their bills. The providers who are integrating technology into the patient journey are also finding it is giving them a distinct competitive advantage regarding patient perception and expectations. It turns out that technology is a key factor that could persuade patients to switch to a new provider. The Harris poll found three top drivers that could inspire patients to make a switch. Availability of same-day appointments for non-routine issues (35%) More convenient locations (30%) Self-scheduling (29%)

Does your welcome experience meet modern patient expectations?

While integrating technology into patient care may peak a patient’s interest, it does not guarantee they will switch. Friction in the onboarding experience can quickly deter new patients as well as hinder the retention of existing patients. Patients want providers to offer them 24/7 access and ease of use, but they also want a provider that values their time. It is a crucial component to building a positive patient experience. Scheduling is one area where your organization can make significant inroads into improving patient experience. The Harris poll found that 81% of consumers believed the ability to self-schedule appointments online would make the process much easier. It is particularly important when trying to establish relationships with new patients. The poll found that 55% of consumers said a lack of available appointments would cause them not to schedule with a new healthcare provider for the first time. And 25% said it took over two weeks to schedule an initial appointment with a new provider.

Digital Front Door’s Impact on Patient Experience

New and emerging consumer trends identified in surveys and studies like the Harris poll make it clear that to build a positive patient experience your organization needs to focus on its digital front door. It is imperative that technology simplifies patient entry points and addresses changing patient expectations around scheduling, care options, communication, and payment options. But more importantly, you need a unifying technology solution that understands that virtual care, revenue cycle, chronic care management, and clinical and operational workflows are now all interconnected. Evaluating and selecting the right front door solution is important given the impact it can have on your organization and patients. Here is just a snapshot of the different ways a front door solution can impact your patient experience. Improve Patient Care

  • Enhance quality of care
  • Increase patient safety
  • Become a provider of choice

Reduce Cost

  • Lower utilization costs
  • Decrease length of stay and ED visits

Improve Provider Experience

  • Reduce burden of care
  • Enhance patient provider interactions
  • Clinician resources work at top of license

Improve Population Health

  • Decrease health disparities
  • Close gaps in care
  • Improve chronic care management

Strategic Considerations and Opportunities

When evaluating existing digital front door solutions or selecting a new one, you should ask yourself these questions to evaluate strategic considerations and identify potential opportunities.

  • Does the front door solution reduce friction for patients? Is it easy-to-use, easy-to-access? How will it impact patient recruitment and retention?
  • How will it impact patient-initiated engagement? Can new patients easily enter the system and engagement loop?
  • Does your front door solution improve your organization’s reporting functionality? Does it help identify and communicate ROI metrics?
  • Does the solution integrate and unify the patient experience across all your EHRs and care settings seamlessly? Will the solution help your organization meet current and future regulatory, compliance and reimbursement changes? Is the solution static or can it easily adapt?
  • Does the front door solution help reduce complexity by eliminating manual processes and leveraging automation?

Key Functionality Requirements

Digital front door functions and requirements will vary by organization. It is best practice to assess the specific needs of your patients and organization. Evaluate your processes and workflows to identify those requirements that are necessary, a priority, nice-to-have, and high-end wants.

Flagler Health+ Case Study: Technology’s Impact on Patient Experience

Healthfully has developed a comprehensive platform that is designed to engage and empower patients through a personalized and convenient service. Flagler Health+, a total care enterprise located in Florida, is using Healthfully technology to reduce friction and engage patients. The platform is integrated directly into Flagler’s EHR, capturing patient information once and sharing it across services for a consistent, synergistic, and frictionless patient experience. Specific services that are integration include in-patient, out-patient, wellness, remote patient monitoring, patient portal, and social determinants of health communities. Recently Flagler Health+ shared some key insights into how the organization is benefiting from the technology. A unified patient experience and consistent patient data across a multi-EHR environment is seen as the biggest benefit. Patient scheduling and appointments modules are the most used. However, Flagler Health+ also mentioned it didn’t expect the positive response regarding the patient online health communities and forums. The technology enabled Flagler Health+ to improve the new patient experience. First, it enhanced the organization’s ability to match new patients to providers. It also simplified the registration and onboarding experience. Healthfully also enabled Flagler Health+ to advance its payment process and reduce costs. Specifically, it provided unified payments and statements, as well as improved eligibility and the prior authorization process.

Conclusion

As outlined in this article, a convenient healthcare experience, fueled by technology, will improve patient satisfaction and drive patient retention. Healthcare providers who upgrade their technology and processes now will be in a better position to offer the convenience and services patients are demanding. As an industry leader in digital consumer health solutions, Healthfully is ready to support your organization’s patient satisfaction initiatives. Healthfully’s unified platform was designed to provide a better patient experience across the continuum of care, not just clinical services. For more information on how Healthfully can help meet your patient needs, or if you would like a demo of the platform, contact us at info@healthfully.io.

Mark Boudreau
Co-founder Mark Boudreau is the COO of Healthfully and brings more than 30 years of success across the technology, product and service, and healthcare industries. Mark previously served as a partner at Accenture and Vice President of Strategy at Orion Health.