Setting Your Patients Up for Success Before They Even Step Foot in Your Clinic with an mHealth App
We have worked with a wide variety of clients who’ve each approached the patient journey differently. Without a doubt, we’ve learned that those who build a consistent program around delivering a high-quality patient journey see other benefits to their business as well, through higher profit margins, higher patient satisfaction scores, and better patient outcomes. This overall strategy requires not only a thoughtful use of technology like a mHealth app, but a well-designed internal workflow built for operational accountability, from the receptionist to the physician to the billing office. We’ve outlined some items to think about as you consider updating your workflows (and corresponding technology) to protect the patient experience.
Making an impact before patients walk through the door:
- How do they find you? Google? Healthgrades? Their insurance website? What do your reviews say about you and your team? If you see consistent reviews on, say, long wait times, rude front-desk staff or poor bedside manner, highlight these as areas of opportunity for improvement.
- When your patients find you, how do they schedule time with you? Can they schedule online, or do they need to call? Do you have data insights into what percentage of your clients call or try to book online? Is the patient experience different when it’s a first-time patient vs. an established patient? Have you received feedback on how your patients prefer to interact with you during the scheduling process?
- Does your front desk team have a consistent, friendly, efficient way of handling inbound patient calls? Are patients given “homework,” i.e. forms to complete prior to their visit? If so, in what format? Are those forms easy to complete online? Better yet, are they easy to complete on a mobile device? When these forms are completed, are they sent to the front-desk staff where they can easily store and save relevant patient data?
- When patients first arrive at your office – how are they signing in? Most offices today still require paper-based sign in or completion of paperwork that isn’t available online, which then requires the front-desk staff to manually enter data into their system.
When they’re in your care:
- Once the diagnosis and prognosis of the patient’s condition have been determined, do patients receive a paper and/or virtual copy of all information shared with them? What about communication between the various caregivers? Do physicians and nurses have an efficient method of executing treatment and discharge procedures? Is it done on paper or can it be done electronically? What feedback have you received regarding these processes? Are there manual steps that can be automated?
- How do patients typically arrange payment for your services? Does this happen when they arrive at the office? Can it happen before they arrive? What level of detail and description is included with their bill? Revenue cycle management is loaded with opportunities for automation, both internal and patient-facing. What steps can be taken before the patient arrives and during care to make sure that you receive full payment quickly? What steps can be taken to identify patients that will NOT be able to make a full payment quickly so that your team can plan accordingly? How can technology be leveraged to make this experience easier for both the patient and the healthcare institution?
Once they leave your care:
- Once a patient is discharged, the goal is to prevent readmissions – that begins with information and education. How do patients receive pertinent information regarding diet restrictions, pharmaceuticals and rehab? Education materials that describe the rationale behind post-discharge health related items not only make the patients accountable for their own well-being, but also make it easier for family members to assist in the process. How does your staff communicate with these patients? Some of our clients have automated parts of this process by using technology to conduct daily surveys regarding a patient’s well being. Nurses and physicians are only needed when the patient’s feedback triggers a necessary “call to action.”
- What resources are available to patients after they have completed rehab to help them implement a healthier lifestyle that will prevent further visits? Can this be done online or on their phones? Do these resources connect with other technology solutions in the process to help close the loop?
We recommend you take a look at your overall process, both from a patient’s perspective and an employee’s, in order to identify places in your organization where there are consistent, manual, routine behaviors because these are good areas of opportunity to leverage mhealth technology for automation. Automation can help improve the patient journey, but thoughtful use of mhealth technology can also bring a variety of benefits to your patients as it relates to education, engagement, prevention and procedural outcomes. For your staff, automation and other technology can help with time savings and/or reduction in error, freeing them up to focus on your patients, leading to an overall improved experience for everyone. Regardless of your decision to use out of the box software or a custom software solution, evaluating where mhealth technology can have an impact in your organization will help set your patients and employees up for success.