EHR-integrated patient engagement improves access to care — and generates revenue
One of the biggest gripes about electronic health record (EHR) systems is that they don’t “talk” to each other. That means if a patient has three different providers that each use different EHR systems, their data cannot be easily transferred across their healthcare journey.
While new rules for interoperability should have an impact, providers can get ahead of the game now by implementing EHR-integrated solutions that not only help the flow of patient data between providers but also improve access to care and ultimately help clinics generate revenue. Patient engagement technology has been around for some time, and their ability to automatically update EHR systems based on patient interactions has been a game-changer.
For health organizations looking to implement EHR-connected technology, here are four things to consider to help you get the most out of your EHR:
1. Automated text messaging improves response rates. In today’s world of ubiquitous mobile devices, consumers (aka patients) view basic appointment reminders as just that: basic. Brands across many industries have significantly improved the way they interact with consumers, and care providers must do the same. Artificial intelligence-powered text messaging fueled by natural language processing enables patients to respond to messages just as they would in an everyday conversation. For example, a thumbs-up emoji can be interpreted as “yes” when a patient confirms an appointment. Patients are already responding to messages in this manner, so it’s on providers to implement a system that can properly interpret the meaning in these cases.
The results of this approach to messaging are almost immediate. One family health center in Colorado had been manually calling patients on an attribution list of more than 30,000 — without much success. After turning to automated text outreach to offer patients the option to schedule online, the clinic was able to serve an additional 1,556 patients in just one month, leading to more than $280,000 in additional revenue.
2. Smart scheduling automatically fills open appointment slots. Using today’s technology, appointment slots can be filled automatically when a patient cancels or reschedules via text. A smart scheduling system contacts the next patients in line to offer the newly available slot and assigns it to the first person who responds affirmatively. This not only gets patients to care quicker, but it also prevents staff from wasting valuable time playing phone tag with patients.
Take OB-GYN practices as an example. The average OB-GYN patient has to wait 24 days for an appointment. But with smart scheduling in place, one women’s care facility in Florida was able to schedule 25% more referrals while easily filling no-shows and cancellations. This combined with automated text messaging resulted in a 50% drop in no-show rates, leading to a $10,000 increase in monthly revenue.
3. Referrals are easier to manage (and keep EHRs updated). One of the biggest challenges for specialty clinics is turning referrals into actual appointments. For example, more than 50% of patients receiving colonoscopy referrals never actually schedule an appointment. This changes dramatically when clinics implement automated patient engagement and smart waitlists to handle referrals.
A gastroenterology practice in Georgia did just that to automate referral management, drive appointments and save staff members time. Almost immediately the clinic saw a 99% drop in phone cancellations, which saved significant staff time. It also experienced a 22% stop in no-show rates as well as a 5% growth in newly scheduled appointments.
4. Easy intake creates better patient experiences. While modern engagement tactics are driving more patients to care, it can improve the overall experience for patients in other ways as well. For example, mobile patient intake solutions enable clinics to capture required patient data in advance of each appointment and log it directly into the EHR system. This can include insurance information, patient history, authorizations, and a list of chronic conditions.
This capability creates a win-win situation for patients and providers. For patients, it gives them a similar experience to what they receive from other consumer interactions. Today you can order dinner, call a ride, change flights or pay for parking all with a few taps on your phone, so you should be able to manage your healthcare in the same way. In this case, mobile intake allows patients to provide their personal data at their own convenience, rather than showing up to the clinic 30 minutes early to fill out the paperwork. For clinical staff it saves even more time, eliminating manual entry of patient data into an EHR system.
EHR systems are an enigma of the healthcare industry. They deliver tremendous value, but they can be excruciatingly frustrating and time-consuming. True EHR system interoperability is years away from reality, but there are measures that providers can take now to maximize the value of their EHR system to improve the patient experience, increase access to care, and improve the bottom line.