Over the past 40 years, hospital stays have become shorter and the volume of admissions has fallen despite the tremendous population growth in the U.S. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Americans spent one-third fewer days in hospitals in 2013 than in 1975.
As competition for the available patient population grows, hospitals are taking a closer look at the role technology plays in enabling better patient engagement and patient experiences. Specifically, hospitals are considering ways to better integrate healthcare technology in order to increase the quality and personalization of care that patients receive, because study after study points to the positive effects integrated patient information can have on utilization and provider-patient communication.
Vertically integrated healthcare technology should positively impact the patient experience by offering a wide range of patient care and support services, either directly or through a third-party vendor. In addition, the integration of organizations providing similar levels of care can provide efficiency, seamless continuum of care, and better overall quality to the patient.
Some of the other patient experience benefits an integrated approach to healthcare technology can provide include:
Automated Revenue Cycle Management
Automated revenue management tools can eliminate wasteful spending on multiple statements, while improving collections. This is especially important to patient satisfaction because it cuts down on sending overdue notices to patients, which are a satisfaction killer if patients have already paid and are up to date on their account.
Sending surveys after each patient visit ensures you are maintaining a patient-centric practice. Hospitals are just like any other business when it comes to getting consumer feedback to measure satisfaction and gauge expectations and performance. Questions like, “Do you feel enough time was spent with you during your visit?” and “Were you seen close to your scheduled appointment time?” can provide tremendous insight into how to improve the patient experience.
One recent study outlined several other factors that should be touched on when a patient is asked to participate in a survey:
- Access: both geographical location and ease of navigation throughout the facility
- Infrastructure and service: physical condition of the facility and friendliness of staff
- Data and information: transparency and safe collection and storage of patient data
- Professional care: level of medical and specialist care
- Coordination and continuity: addresses the transition from one healthcare provider to another
- Interpersonal care: level of communication and empathy that the patient felt from the experience
- Individualized healthcare: how well the overall care of the patient was managed
Upcoming/Missed Appointment Notifications
Notifying patients that they have a scheduled appointment helps them avoid getting off-track regarding their healthcare. The same for missed appointments.
There are many ways to send out automated appointment reminders using phone, text, and email to advise patients of upcoming scheduled visits. Many of the automated options can be customized to provide personalized messages for the patient. Automated recall announcements not only prepare patients for follow-up visits, but also free staff so they can focus on more pressing activities.
Birthday Greetings or Seasonal Reminders
This is a simple, yet effective, marketing tool that goes a long way with patients who view the contact as a form of provider care. Birthday greetings are an effective way to foster patient loyalty. Seasonal messages such as flu shot reminders, allergy preparedness or insights about chronic conditions keep your organization actively engaged with patients throughout the year.
Improving the patient experience is a major priority for American hospitals. Those that take full advantage of their integrated healthcare technology are better positioned to deliver more personalized, patient-focused care and exceed the expectations of the populations they serve.