By Stericycle Staff | Feb. 13, 2020
Making the customer journey as seamless, convenient and easy as possible has long been the focus of retailers and other consumer-centric businesses. Savvy companies understand the impact that customer satisfaction and convenience have throughout the journey, boosting long-term customer loyalty and growing sustainable revenue.
It’s time for health systems and providers to better understand and improve the patient healthcare journey — from guiding patients to the right venue of care to helping them understand how to better manage their chronic conditions. Patients today are desperate for health systems to address the hurdles and disconnects they face on their medical journeys and will reward providers and systems with their loyalty and healthcare dollars when the experience matches their needs and expectations.
The following are three high-impact ways to significantly improve the patient journey, while driving revenue, reducing costs and minimizing penalties.
- Help them find the right venue for their need
Why do some patients overuse the emergency department? Sometimes it’s because they don’t know that a different venue is more appropriate or available based on their condition. The same issue happens with other treatment facilities and providers, where patients are frequently confused about the services offered and where they should really be seen for their problem.
Connecting patients with the right venue of care at the right time is a critical touchpoint in the patient journey and impacts satisfaction, healthcare costs, efficiency and value-based care outcomes. That’s why it’s essential to help patients self-identify the correct venue for their needs.
A virtual triage capability helps healthcare consumers find and schedule access to the right venue of care within your system for the issue they are having. Based on your organization’s typical conditions seen and the symptoms associated with those conditions, you can help patients quickly self-determine whether they should be going to the emergency department, urgent care, primary care or a specialist. Then let them self-schedule anytime day or night.
- Give them the right support after they’ve been discharged
The number one time for complications to occur is when there’s a transition in care, from the hospital to skilled nursing or the hospital to home or skilled nursing to home. Those complications not only impact patient health outcomes, but increase the likelihood of penalties due to readmissions. In October 2019, Medicare penalized 83% of hospitals for excessive readmissions totaling a record $563 million.
To avoid complications and reduce unnecessary readmissions, you need a proactive post-discharge strategy to induce the best response and actions from patients. That strategy should include check-in calls, medication reconciliation, and reminders for follow-up appointments. A July 2018 study showed a 60% reduction of readmissions between patients with at least one follow-up visit (7.30% readmission rate) compared to those without (18.27% readmission).
- Take advantage of telehealth options to deliver continuity of care
According to the American Hospital Association, a 2017 study showed that 3.6 million individuals forego medical care each year due to transportation issues. Other hurdles to obtaining in-person care include language barriers, disabilities, lack of local providers, and lack of child-care options.
When patients miss appointments and services such as preventative screenings, it interrupts the continuity of care. The result is that people with chronic conditions can develop serious complications and those with acute illnesses can go untreated, either of which can become life-threatening situations.
For patients that can’t easily come into the office, telehealth services and home health monitoring devices can make a substantial difference in the quality and timeliness of care. Home health monitoring devices such as connected blood pressure and stethoscope devices let a remote healthcare provider check a patient’s vital signs and quickly determine whether the patient needs to be seen in person. This can avoid hospitalizations by recognizing and treating issues before they become urgent or life threatening.
Complementing home health monitoring devices, telehealth services connect patients at home with remote providers via technology such as videoconferencing, devices connected to the internet, mobile phones, mobile apps, and more. This improves communication and coordination of care for people with mobility, transportation or other barriers to obtaining in-person services.