Delivering the Patient Healthcare Access Consumers Crave

A Guide to Success in Today’s Healthcare Landscape

What matters most to American healthcare consumers comes down to access, or the ability to receive care when and where they need it.

At a time when consumers value access to care even more than cost-effectiveness of care, one out of three consumers rate their access to healthcare as “below average,” an EY survey shows. Yet more than half of consumers give high marks to U.S. healthcare for being technologically advanced, the EY survey indicates. This begs the question: Why can’t a technologically advanced healthcare system provide simpler and more timely access to care?

The Disconnect Between Technology and Patient Experience

The disconnect between a healthcare organization’s desire to deliver on patient healthcare access and its ability to do so typically comes down to two factors:

1. Operational maturity, or the extent to which an organization successfully leverages internal processes and technology to efficiently accommodate provider preferences and simplify operations and,

2. Patient experience, or the degree to which patients feel empowered to engage with the organization on their own to find providers, schedule appointments, coordinate care and more.

In our experience, most healthcare organizations fall into one of four quadrants on the Patient Access Maturity Matrix:

Quadrant 1Subpar patient experience. High operational maturity.

Organizations that fall into this quadrant typically have patient access solutions at their disposal, but they struggle to make good use of these tools. These organizations also face challenges in consolidating tools from multiple vendors and struggle to develop a coherent IT strategy.

What to consider: For these organizations offering multiple, integrated options and access points—including mobile options for patient scheduling, check-in, communication and payment—could allow patients to feel empowered while ensuring organizations don’t miss out on vital payment or appointment opportunities.

Quadrant 2: Superb patient experience. High operational maturity.

Among organizations in this quadrant, most aspects of patient access and operational efficiency work quite well. These organizations often seek help in maintaining their competitive edge and making better use of human capital. For instance, they may lack a detailed view into their patient access performance, typically due to lack of data, which can hinder continuous improvement.

What to consider: To maintain their edge in the market, these organizations must continually measure outcomes, set goals, and iterate and smartly onboard technology that will further ease operational burden on their staff while enhancing the patient experience.

Quadrant 3: Subpar patient experience. Low operational maturity.

Generally, these organizations haven’t implemented the necessary technology and business updates to stay competitive. Just 5-10 years ago, these providers might have relied on their patient portal to help keep patients feeling engaged. Now, their inability to keep up with the continued rise of consumerism and digital advances has them playing catch up.

What to consider: While these healthcare organizations might still enjoy a loyal patient population built years ago, their reliance on outdated, manual processes for patient access—such as scheduling processes that depend on multiple phone calls and lots of paperwork—puts them at risk of losing patients to a more experience-friendly provider.

Quadrant 4: High patient experience. Low operational maturity.

These organizations tend to deliver a high-touch patient experience that requires a lot of manual effort from staff. For instance, while organizations in Quadrant 4 might offer an automated solution for scheduling, their version of this technology is often a less mature “request an appointment” feature rather than a true self-scheduling platform. Patients may be happy and engaged, but high-touch processes can quickly lead to staff burnout and turnover.

What to consider: Look for opportunities to automate tasks and implement improved workflows. This will ensure an organization can scale its approach to patient access and the customer experience while reducing staff burnout and turnover.

Making the Right Moves for Improved Healthcare Access for Patients

By identifying where their organization falls on the Patient Access Maturity Matrix, leaders can develop a plan of action that takes into account evolving consumer expectations, the need to decrease pressure on staff and their short-term and long-term business goals. It’s not uncommon for such an analysis to uncover patient access challenges stemming from multiple areas of operations. For example, organizations may find they not only need to add scheduling automation capabilities, but also invest in tools that simplify patient intake.

Curious to know where your organization falls on the Patient Access Maturity Matrix?

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