While there are vast differences between metropolitan and rural healthcare providers, ranging from the availability of resources to patient demographics, we’ve noticed some common threads in challenges throughout the industry. Today, healthcare providers are often faced with unique revenue cycle management challenges like physician shortages, a large percentage of financially insecure patients, and insufficient reimbursements stemming from the significant hurdles brought forth by the transition to value-based care. These distinct difficulties necessitate more efficient business processes, and mobile compatible technology might be able help. Here are 7 ways a healthcare mobile application can work for you:
According to Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own a smartphone as of 2017. In lower-income or rural communities especially, patients who own smartphones greatly outnumber those who own computers. Making it easy for patients to locate your facilities, learn about your services and connect with your staff, all on their mobile devices (vs. a desktop or laptop browser), lead to a more sustainable, more accessible business.
Both metropolitan and rural healthcare providers struggle with how to manage their daily schedule. A typical day can easily become overrun by late appointments or unplanned patient needs, which puts a strain on patient engagement and satisfaction. Not all patients live an hour’s drive or more from healthcare providers, but for many patients, time is of the essence. Understanding exactly what will happen once they arrive at the clinic and how long they’ll need to stay makes planning for the experience much easier. Effective time management is crucial for providers, too, especially those operating with limited resources. Most scheduling apps out there do not allow for customization with regards to appointment duration; a strep test may take 20 minutes while a flu shot only takes 5, but the software allots the same amount of time for each. Building a mobile app that allows for customization in scheduling will undoubtedly lead to higher business efficiency.
Every healthcare provider is unique; therefore, being able to customize the technology your staff uses to execute daily tasks is critical to your success. Custom technology will allow the current processes that are in place to be done more efficiently and accurately without requiring staff to spend time learning an entirely new way of doing things, leading to an increase in both staff and patient satisfaction. A simple example is leveraging mobile technology to replace paper-based patient forms and profiles. Mobile apps designed to integrate with your existing backends systems can allow for a more consistent and robust data collection mechanism that can automatically update your existing systems – saving time and reducing error.
Two of the biggest drivers behind mobile apps are process simplification and increased accessibility. Creating custom software that includes payment processing ensures that the entire patient journey, from booking their first appointment to paying their final bill can be done easily and conveniently from any location. Additionally, being able to pay for services within the app frees patients from the rush of an in-person transaction and gives them a chance to take the time that they need to fully understand their bill. As we mentioned before, accessing healthcare can be an intimidating experience, especially for those who don’t make it a part of their regular routine. Standing in a reception area with other people around may not feel like an opportune moment to ask health-related or financial questions that require a bit more privacy.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2012, both private and government insurers have emphasized value-based care. Before this, the back half of the patient journey, consisting of rehabilitation and preventing readmissions, may not have been a priority for healthcare providers. Today though, the need for more effective communication between physicians, nurses, providers and patients is extremely important. A custom mobile application allows patients to access and provide feedback on their rehabilitation protocol right from their phone and make use of automation to keep them on track, potentially eliminating the need for routine phone calls between patient and provider, unless they’re truly necessary. Together these features create a win-win scenario by improving patient protocol adherence/outcomes while saving time and money for the clinic.
Closely related to readmission prevention and communication is patient education and engagement. Every healthcare provider would agree that educated patients are more likely to yield better outcomes because they tend to follow the the rules surrounding preparation, medication and recovery. Just as patient satisfaction begins at the start of the patient journey, so does patient engagement. Engagement begins with proper education – on a procedure, on the healthcare provider, on how to plan for the best outcomes. With this knowledge, patients can be engaged in their care plan and feel empowered to protect the best outcome for their health. While every healthcare provider would love to work with educated patients, the reality is education takes time and attention. Providing a place for patients to educate themselves on their own time and through a comfortable format like a mobile device, allows providers to create the space for education in a timely and efficient manner.
A common frustration we hear from healthcare providers is that the current patient-facing technology they are using doesn’t accurately reflect how they run their practice. From clunky workflows within the application to gaps in branding, many existing toolsets leave more to be desired when it comes to serving their patients. As healthcare providers focus more on controlling the patient experience, with an eye on quality outcomes and patient satisfaction, it’s imperative to have the right technology to meet these specialized needs. The technology you use must meet your exact business needs and integrate seamlessly with existing workflow processes or you run the risk of employees and patients refusing to use it. Creating a new application that makes the patient journey a more engaging and more enjoyable process will help lead to better outcomes all around.