Healthcare providers use technology every day to enhance their interactions with patients and serve them better: electronic billing systems, medical records at their fingertips via computer, text messaging and email appointment reminders. Two additional ways that providers can use technology to improve their patient relations are by helping to manage chronic conditions and offering same-day appointment scheduling.
Patients who suffer from chronic conditions can benefit especially from technology to connect regularly with their healthcare provider. Not only do these patients feel anxiety, depression, and stress as a result of their diagnosis, they can also feel overwhelmed as they learn to manage their conditions, making it more difficult for them to effect changes to improve their health. Patients need resources to become informed about their condition and how to manage it, and support from healthcare providers between visits to check in and assist them with treatment plans and changing unhealthy behaviors. Communication and remote monitoring technology can increase their confidence in managing their condition. A recent study found that 91 percent of these patients would welcome help managing their disease at home in between their doctors’ appointments. Despite these patients typically being older, many of them are using technology in their daily lives and ready to embrace the tech needed to help them manage their healthcare at home.
Same-day scheduling is another tool that practices have found improves patient satisfaction and helps grow their bottom line at the same time. Some offices allow patients to schedule appointments online, while others offer slots to patients who call in the morning to be seen the same day. By setting aside scheduling blocks for patients to make appointments that day rather than weeks ahead, patients receive care more quickly, practices gain new patients, and providers reduce the number of no-show appointments – and lost reimbursements as a result. CrossCHX estimates that no-shows can cost a practice an average of $3,600 a week. Planning time for same-day appointments allows doctors’ offices to serve patients who would otherwise turn to emergency rooms and urgent care centers. One Medical in San Francisco has offered same-day appointments since 2006, and now estimates that 30 percent of their appointments are booked the same day. Another example is Allegheny Health Network, which began offering same-day appointment slots to patients in January of this year to reduce wait times for patients to see doctors, particularly specialists. While anticipating the need for openings and managing appointment inventory can be a challenge, these health systems are finding that their same-day patients are highly satisfied and new patients are coming to their practices. Allegheny Health Network has seen up to 30 percent of their same-day appointments for specialists come in as new patients over the past year.
As time goes on, more technologies will become available to help ensure patient satisfaction and enable providers to serve their population more effectively. Right now, taking steps toward either of these solutions can be a way to keep patients happy and healthy, and have a positive impact on your practice’s bottom line at the same time.