Health systems have a multitude of “front doors” (i.e., patient access points) and, as today’s care networks continue to evolve in size and scope, linking those points is becoming a growing priority. Recently, Katie Logan, VP of Experience at Piedmont Healthcare and Andy Hare, Associate VP of Access Services at UAB Medicine, joined Healthcare Informatics and Kyruus on a webinar, “Taking a Multi-Channel Approach to Access.” Both Piedmont Healthcare and UAB Medicine are pursuing significant initiatives to transform how patients access their health systems and transition within them.
In a 2017 survey of 1,000 consumers, despite the prevalence of online research about providers, phone remained the top method of booking appointments with 62% of consumers citing a preference for it. While that is likely to shift as online scheduling offerings expand in healthcare, it underscores an important insight (and one that will endure): patients often interact with multiple entry points to a health system (e.g., online, phone) – even for a single encounter. Making sure those access points have consistent information, deliver a unified experience, and reinforce your desired brand image is key for effectively engaging and retaining patients.
Below are four other related takeaways from the webinar:
- Brand Attracts. Conversion & Retention Require More. While a strong brand reputation is an enormous asset, it won’t always compensate for a poor access experience at your health system. Access sets the tone for a patient’s entire experience with your organization. If competitors offer a higher level of service or better access to care, you may face challenges converting demand and retaining patients.
- Convenience is King. Healthcare consumers not only want easy appointment booking processes and quick access to care, but also convenient location options. An integrated patient access strategy needs to look beyond traditional sites of care to also factor in both alternative physical sites, such as urgent care centers and retail walk-in clinics, as well as virtual care offerings.
- It’s Not Just About Initial Access – Transitions Matter Too. Delivering a differentiated experience requires not just looking at how patients access your health system the first time, but also how they experience other entry points and move within the network. Piedmont’s “Seamless Transitions” initiative focuses on creating a unified, hassle-free patient experience across its large, geographically-dispersed network.
- First, Understand Your Providers. As Andy emphasized, helping patients find the right providers for their needs at your health system–accounting for key criteria such as location, timing, and insurance–requires first gathering, validating, and consolidating information about your providers. You’ll also need a plan for keeping the data accurate over time. Robust, reliable provider data lays the foundation for effective access.
As health systems continue to expand, participate in M&A, and innovate around their delivery networks, patient access strategies will need to evolve as well. With a truly integrated strategy in place, health systems can drive consistency and deliver differentiated experiences – not only at multiple, traditional entry points, but also at a growing number of sites of care.
Missed the webinar live? Catch it on-demand now!