Consumers increasingly expect digital tools, open access, and more control to manage all aspects of their lifestyles from their personal devices, and the healthcare industry is increasingly struggling to keep pace with these evolving demands. In fact, many healthcare organizations lack the core infrastructural support now required to offer the care path most associated with positive patient experience and outcomes in this new era of healthcare.
In 2023, the push to intelligent healthcare automation and easier patient access will be critical to maintaining operations. And the providers who do, will quickly discover a new, sustainable operational model that will fundamentally alter care delivery in three ways:
Staff will adjust to more digital tools and automation in their daily operations… and won’t look back
With staffing shortages impacting staff morale and bandwidth—and the shortages predicted to last for years to come—the roles most closely aligned with scheduling and patient communication will see instant relief with technological intervention.
The first major transition will be adopting a patient scheduling solution that scales to specification quickly, digitizes historical knowledge—like the hard copy binder that captures provider preferences—and shifts daily operations into a click of a button rather than a decision-making tree. Staff will no longer train in processes and personalities, but in tools and automated workflows in the same way they are trained in practice systems like EHRs.
In addition, the expansion of automation tool set includes the availability of two-way communication channels that will untether staff from a desk phone. Secure inbound chat and texting, and even in-practice team-to-team chat, will replace phone tag and waiting for answers. Staff will be able to proactively manage their time and check-in on their digital task list to quickly address any outstanding items.
Healthcare organizations will automate operations to address the financial squeeze of rising healthcare costs and low reimbursements… and use this data to optimize physician utilization
The administrative staff that field patient communication and requests won’t be the only ones to greatly benefit from new technology. An intelligent solution not only bridges resource gaps, but it also refines schedule capacity which impacts the bottom line at the same time. Through the next phase of healthcare automation technology adoption, providers will look for solutions that:
- Support more than a single capability, such as patient scheduling, appointment reminders, and engagement
- Collect data points, such as appointment duration or provider preferences
- Are foundationally agile to be configurable as conditions change
For example, a patient scheduling solution that collects data on provider usage will help continue to balance the schedule. Providers can adjust appointment types to the exact durations they need to deliver care, and the system can use analytics to predict and reduce no-shows for a seamless calendar.
Patients will own their care delivery and condition management… and success will hinge on improved patient access
Patients who are used to interacting with an eCommerce market are applying these behaviors to healthcare and are switching care providers like they switch brands after evaluating how their experience matched expectations. However, these expectations increasingly align to consumer preferences over healthcare interaction.
According to a recent Accenture report, younger generations are six times more likely to switch providers after a perceived poor interaction—such as inconvenience navigating the practice, difficulty getting questions answered, or lack of digital tools available. In the same survey, they found 71% of consumers cite patient access as a top factor in selecting a new physician. As a population that values convenience, customer service, and trust over price, patients who develop loyalty—much like they do for high-profile brands like Apple—will be more likely to stick with their providers and follow a care plan.
To meet patients where they are—seeking to own more of their care options—providers must improve patient access to remain competitive and retain their patients. Capabilities like online self-scheduling and two-way communication will become foundational to acquiring new patients, reducing leakage, and improving practice image on online review sites.
Learn how providers are bettering digital capabilities in From Volume to Value: 5 Considerations for Providers in 2023.