Updated March 19, 2023
While there are a lot of differences between metro and rural health care providers, from the resources available to patient demographics, we noticed a few common themes to challenges across the entire sector. Today, healthcare providers face unique revenue-cycle management challenges, such as shortages in physicians, large proportions of financially unprotected patients, and inadequate reimbursements arising from significant obstacles created by the shift toward value-based care. These unique difficulties require more effective business processes, and mobile-friendly technologies may help.
1. Patient Reach/Accessibility/Awareness
According to the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans owned a smartphone in 2017. In lower-income or rural communities, especially, the number of patients with smartphones vastly exceeds that of computers. Making it easier for patients to find your location, find out about your services, and communicate with your staff--all from a mobile device (as opposed to on the desktop or laptop browser)--leads to more enduring, more affordable businesses.
Both urban and rural healthcare providers need help with how to manage daily scheduling. A typical day can quickly get crowded by late appointments or unscheduled patient needs, putting strain on patient engagement and satisfaction.
2. Scheduling Efficiency
Not every patient lives an hour or more away from their healthcare providers, but time is critical for many patients. Understanding exactly what will happen when they get to a facility and for how long they are expected to be there makes it a lot easier to plan the experience. Effective time management is also critical for providers with limited resources. Unfortunately, most appointment scheduling apps do not allow customization in terms of the length of appointments; a strep test might require 20 minutes, but a flu shot might require just 5, yet the software allocates the same time to each.
Building a mobile app that allows for scheduling customization would no doubt result in greater efficiency in the company. Every healthcare provider is different, so being able to personalize the technology that your employees use to perform everyday tasks is crucial for your success. In addition, customized technology will enable you to run your existing processes more effectively and accurately without having your staff take the time to learn a new way to do things, leading to increased satisfaction for both your staff and patients.
3. Process Efficiency
A simple example is using mobile technology to replace paper-based forms and patient profiles. Mobile apps designed to integrate with an existing back-end system can enable a more consistent, reliable data-collection mechanism that can update the current system automatically -- saving you time and decreasing errors. The two biggest drivers behind mobile apps are streamlining processes and increasing availability.
4. Payment Processing
Creating a bespoke software solution that includes payment processing will ensure that the whole patient journey, from booking the first appointment to paying their final bill, is done in an easy, convenient way, no matter where they are. Additionally, being able to pay for services inside of an app takes patients out of the rush of a physical transaction and allows them to take the time needed to understand their bill fully.
As we mentioned earlier, accessing healthcare can be a scary experience, especially for those who do not have it as a routine. In addition, standing in the waiting room with others nearby may not be the most appropriate time to ask a health-related or financial question requiring a little bit of extra privacy.
5. Readmission Prevention and Communication
Since passing the Affordable Care Act in 2012, private and public insurance companies have emphasized value-based care.
Before that, the second half of a patient's journey, composed of recovery and preventive readmissions, might not have been the top priority of healthcare providers. However, better communication among doctors, nurses, providers, and patients is hugely important today. For example, a specialized mobile app allows patients to access and give feedback about their rehab protocols directly from their phones and uses automation to help them stay on track, potentially eliminating the need for regular telephone calls between patients and providers unless really needed.
Together, these features create a win-win situation, improving patient compliance/outcomes with their protocols while saving the clinic time and money. Closely related to preventing and communicating about readmissions is education and patient engagement. Every healthcare professional would agree that educated patients will likely have better outcomes, as they are inclined to comply with rules regarding preparation, medications, and rehabilitation.
6. Patient Education and Engagement
Just like patient satisfaction begins early in a patient's journey, patient engagement begins early. Engagement begins with the right education about a procedure, a health care provider, and how to plan for a better outcome. With that knowledge, patients can become engaged with their care plans and feel empowered to advocate for their best health outcomes. While every health provider would like to work with educated patients, the reality is that education takes time and focus. Providing patients with the opportunity to educate themselves in a comfortable format, such as on mobile devices, allows providers to build space for education in a timely and effective way.
7. Patient Experience and Publicity
A common disappointment we hear from healthcare providers is that current patient-facing technologies they use need to reflect how they are running their practices accurately. From cumbersome workflows inside of an app to gaps in branding, many existing tool sets leave something more desirable when it comes to serving their patients. However, as healthcare providers place a greater emphasis on controlling patient experiences, and focusing on high-quality outcomes and patient satisfaction, having the right technologies in place to address those unique needs is essential. In addition, the technology you use must fit your precise business needs and seamlessly integrate with existing workflow processes. Otherwise, you risk employees and patients declining to use it.
In summary, creating a new app that makes your patients' experiences more compelling and pleasurable will help drive better outcomes. Is your organization ready for a mobile healthcare app?. Book a 30-minute call today to talk about your project.