March 9, 2023
Rather than a one-time event, patient engagement is a connected journey. It spans from the first time patients learn about your organization—possibly during price shopping, viewing an advertisement or talking with a friend—all the way through scheduling an appointment, receiving care and paying for service.
No matter how your organization is structured—or if your work happens in the clinical, operational or payments arena—patients perceive all healthcare touchpoints as one connected brand, not a collection of individual processes. That connectedness presents many opportunities for making the entire patient experience easy, seamless and empathetic.
How do healthcare providers tackle this multi-faceted, yet interconnected challenge?
Understanding what patients experience in every aspect of their engagement is a great place to begin. Asking tough questions—and acting quickly if the answers reveal missed opportunities—will put your organization on the road to providing the best possible patient experience: one that is purposefully connected to create ease, convenience and trust.
Put yourself in your patients’ shoes and evaluate how easy or difficult it is to find your organization online. Check to see if your website clearly delineates specialty services and how to access them. As the federal Price Transparency and No Surprises Act dictates, hospitals must list at least 300 shoppable healthcare services and related charges on their websites. Make sure this information not only is simple to find, but also clear and easy to understand. Ideally, patients should be able to make appointments with links found on those service listing web pages.
Speaking of appointments, does your system help busy people remember their appointments with digital messages? How about helping them easily make copays—perhaps when they make their appointments—or reschedule appointments without playing endless rounds of telephone tag? All of these tasks can be simplified with smart technology that simultaneously reduces burdens on busy staff.
Technology solutions for patient registration also are evolving. Now patients can be spared the time-consuming process of filling out pre-appointment paperwork by hand thanks to digital forms. Not only can the forms pre-populate information already known, information can be shared system-wide to avoid repeatedly asking patients for the same information in various departments within your system.
Patients want to feel safe and comfortable when they check in. Walking into a waiting room filled with coughing sick people is enough for some patients to turn around and leave. Imagine patients checking in from the convenience of your parking lot—and even making their copay using their mobile device in their car. Technology developed in the early days of the pandemic means these convenient, safe and germ-free check-in options are available today. Digital technology solutions also allow providers to send patients pre-appointment instructions and any registration paperwork well in advance, so patients can prepare and respond in a leisurely manner using their own technology devices.
Now think about your patients’ financial experience. Make sure patients understand how to apply for financial assistance and request a payment plan if they qualify. Take a good look at your billing statements to make sure they’re easy to read and understand. If a patient has received multiple services related to one care episode from various departments within your system, invest in a solution to create one comprehensive statement to avoid confusing patients with multiple bills.
Offer patients many payment options—online, via phone, email or text—as well as traditional printed statements delivered in the mail for patients that prefer them. With the right technology, you can make online payments so easy that patients won’t even need to remember user names and passwords!
If patients have billing questions, make sure your CSRs are empowered to answer their questions. CSRs also should be able to take payments over the phone without actually hearing personal credit card or banking information. That level of security makes patients feel safe and confident.
Connecting all aspects of the patient experience means harnessing the power of effortless engagement for every patient. With enough insight, empathy and automated technology, you will find it easy to make every aspect of the patient journey smooth, convenient and connected!