It’s no secret that patient access can be a nightmare.
Research shows that the average wait time in the US is longer than 18 days, and 43% of patients haven’t had success in finding same-day appointments when they’re sick (1).
When you add in complicated and obscure referral processes, difficult and time-consuming communication channels, and overworked staff, you have the recipe for a patient access disaster. And yet this is what many hospitals and clinics face every day.
Obviously patient access problems are frustrating to patients, but they can also contribute to a poor reputation in the community, and negatively impact the bottom line. (1)
Two of the largest challenges in this space today are that patients have a hard time connecting and communicating with their providers, and patients have no visibility on the progress of their referral.
In today’s world of coordinating Uber rides and tracking packages until they arrive on your doorstep, patients have come to expect a more streamlined, transparent experience from their healthcare providers.
Gratefully, there are solutions that can help. Here are just a few strategies that hospitals and clinics have found helpful in improving patient access:
- Develop surge contingency plans for crowded schedules and waiting rooms.
- Utilize telemedicine as a tool for patients who struggle with transportation or arriving at appointments on time.
- Leverage expanded reporting and analytics to help optimize your processes.
- Do a Patient Journey Map to get a clearer picture of your patient’s experience.
- Add digital tools to make your patient access processes available online for self-servicing.
- Make the goal to have same-day or next day access for patients.
- Implement text reminders to patients that they can respond to and confirm or alter their upcoming appointments.
Patient access doesn’t have to be the headache that it currently is. By looking at patient access as everyone’s responsibility, not just the front staff, great results have been achieved. For example, healthcare organizations implementing some of the strategies listed above have found a 25% increase in the amount of visits, and a 35% increase in visit capacity. Others have decreased their average wait time for an appointment from 17 days down to 1 day. (1)
In these stressful times, you don’t want a complex patient access process being yet another barrier getting in the way of patients receiving and experiencing the great care you provide. With the right tools and assistance, you’ll be surprised at how much your patients will come to appreciate and enjoy how much easier you’ve made their lives.
To your success,
The Wixcorp team