Centralizing Patient Access: Operations and Technology Go Hand in Hand
An increase in healthcare mergers and acquisitions, coupled with aging and disparate systems, has created too many silos in scheduling systems. Research shows that over 50% of providers still use manual scheduling tools that create an inaccurate patient view and negatively affect health outcomes. With outpatient revenue driving hospital growth, centralizing patient access has become critical for improving quality of care and hospital margins.
This requires providers to standardize operations across the entire health organization using flexible, integrated technology designed to improve the patient experience throughout the entire care journey. An advanced contact center solution achieves just this, improving patient scheduling, provider capacity management, and patient time-to-service by intelligently coordinating human resources, workflow, scheduling-EMR software and communications technology. At minimum, these solutions should include:
- Multimedia interactions: Multimedia interactions like live chat and click-to-call can be seamlessly integrated—regardless of the device being used—to enable patients to schedule appointments over the medium that’s most convenient to them. The current value of online patient scheduling is $3.2 billion, with 58% of patients preferring to book from a website or mobile app without having to call the office.
- Automation: To lower costs and improve quality, providers need context (e.g., does the patient present with a new clinical concern or pre-existing condition). To deliver a holistic patient-provider experience, leveraging automation in healthcare is crucial for creating patient context. Integrated automation solutions that are flexible enable healthcare entities to gain a full visualization of the patient journey. For example: a provider can automatically validate a caller as a first-time patient and therefore refer the patient to a clinic that is booking two weeks out, versus a clinic that is booking three months out. Minimizing unfilled appointments helps to maximize operational and clinical efficiency. Research shows just two of 10 empty time slots per day can lead to more than $50,000 in annual revenue loss for healthcare providers. Automation also provides a level of personalization and consistency that enables health systems to effectively prioritize scheduling (e.g., prioritizing an in-network referral over an out-of-network referral).
- Workforce management: A top issue affecting healthcare revenue involves patient service representatives inefficiently engaging during scheduling (in many ways, an unprepared show is almost as bad as a no-show). For example, representatives should be reminding patients of details of their care plan and ensuring they bring certain documents prior to arrival (it is estimated that 40-80% of medical information provided to patients by providers is forgotten immediately or recalled incorrectly). Healthcare organizations need a solution that enables scheduling managers to proactively oversee, train and engage these representatives for optimal performance.
- Robust analytics: Advanced analytics is crucial for reducing call abandonment rates and patient hold times, yet less than half of health systems report having a clear analytics strategy. Health organizations must understand such things as patient calling patterns, First Call Resolution rates, and how often patients schedule appointments to decrease patient leakage, increase billable events, and improve quality of care. These analytics, married with scheduling software or the EMR system, offer providers a solid view of what’s working and what isn’t for improving costs and delivering the best care.
An advanced contact center solution—one that offers proactive, digital communication options and flexible integration—centralizes patient access to improve patient experience in scheduling, patient access to healthcare, and ultimately, revenue cycle management.