4 digital enhancements to improve patient access

Published: May 9, 2022 by Experian Health


When it comes to patient access, friction can lead to bad patient experiences. If patients can’t see a quick way to schedule a medical appointment when they visit their provider’s website, they’ll click away. If registration involves sitting in a waiting room with piles of paperwork, they’ll be reluctant to attend. If patients are confused by complex billing processes, they’ll put it off until they have the time and energy to engage. A recent survey by PYMNTS and Experian Health found that 61% of patients would consider switching to a provider that eliminates these pain points in patient access and offers more streamlined patient access, for example, through a patient portal.

Beyond consumer satisfaction, convenient and flexible patient access makes financial sense for providers. It can help reduce no-shows, enable better use of staff time and accelerate patient collections. It also paves the way for higher quality care. After all, if patients are deterred from attending appointments and/or thinking about switching providers, it’ll take much longer for them to receive their diagnosis and treatment.

What does “convenient and flexible” mean in practice? It means deploying digital patient access software that allows patients to complete intake tasks at a time and place that suits them. Self-service scheduling, automated registration, and personalized outreach around billing all help to create a friction-free consumer experience – and a more consistent cash flow.

Rethinking patient access with patient-friendly digital solutions

Consumer feedback in the survey by PYMNTS and Experian Health suggests there’s an opportunity to rethink patient access to meet patients’ digital expectations. Here are some examples of revenue-boosting swaps that will help create a patient access and intake experience that keeps patients coming in:

1. Instead of time-consuming queues and call center bookings → offer convenient online self-scheduling

Around a fifth of patients say they’ve used digital scheduling tools, including patient portals, websites or text messages. Patients want to be able to schedule appointments when it suits them, rather than having to call within fixed hours to speak to a call center agent. Online self-scheduling allows patients to quickly find and book available appointments.

Some providers may worry that these systems can’t account for their complex scheduling rules, but that’s not the case. Built-in guided search functions can factor in the provider’s scheduling rules, so patients are only offered appointments with the right providers. It’s easier for patients, and it’s far more efficient for staff. Relying on institutional knowledge and thumbing through giant binders of questionnaires can be stressful, time-consuming and error-prone. Online patient scheduling platforms eliminate these challenges.

2. Instead of patchy patient data → get accurate and complete patient identities

One of the biggest challenges in patient access is capturing and utilizing accurate patient information. Typos, missing demographic details, out-of-date contact information and duplicate data all contribute to gaps and errors in patient identities. Without complete and reliable patient records, providers run the risk of delivering substandard care and suffer from preventable revenue loss.

Instead of relying on manual data input processes, providers need digital systems that ensure the information added to a patient’s record is correct and complete. Experian Health’s Patient Identity Management solution pulls from the industry’s most reliable data sources to verify each patient’s information. It arms staff with automatic updates and alerts them to any potential discrepancies. Identity Verification helps improve the patient experience, minimize payment delays, and protect patients and healthcare organizations from identity theft. With more accurate data, collections are more efficient, leading to faster revenue recovery and fewer costly denials.

3. Instead of losing revenue to unnecessary write-offs → run automated coverage checks to find forgotten insurance

If patients are unsure of their insurance coverage status, providers must invest time and resources to check for missing coverage. This pain point is currently in sharp focus, with the end of the COVID-19 Uninsured Program and the end of continuous Medicaid enrollment. As patients’ coverage status changes, providers must be able to run efficient checks for any potential missing or undisclosed coverage.

Experian Health’s Coverage Discovery tool can run automated checks to look for billable coverage, as soon as the patient first interacts with the organization. Data-driven coverage discovery gives patients clarity about what they owe so they can plan ahead and allows more efficient use of staff time.

4. Instead of opaque pricing information → make it easy for patients to understand and pay bills

Patients want transparent healthcare pricing. However, 15% of patients said they found it difficult to get accurate price estimates before coming in for care. The complaint was more frequent among the most digitally active patients – who are also more likely to switch providers based on the quality of digital services. Despite a recent push toward price transparency, there’s still a long way to go, with many providers struggling to comply with new federal price transparency requirements.

Upfront pricing estimates make it easier for patients to understand and plan for their medical bills. With Patient Payment Estimates, patients get a clear, personalized breakdown of their expected financial responsibility sent directly to their mobile device. Patient Financial Advisor takes this a step further, by offering a text-to-mobile financial experience that connects patients with estimates, payment plans and contactless payment methods. Providers that offer convenient and flexible ways to pay will be best placed to protect profits.

Discover how Experian Health’s digital patient access software solutions can help attract and retain satisfied consumers and bolster the bottom line.

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