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4 use cases for patient access tools

Published: July 13, 2023 by Experian Health

4 use cases for patient access software-blog

How do patients rate their “patient access” experience? For most, the rating comes down to how quickly they can see their doctor – and many don’t feel like their expectations are met. In December 2022, Experian Health surveyed more than 1000 adults who’d accessed care in the previous 12 months to gauge perceptions of patient access. Most think the experience remains unchanged or has gotten worse in the last two years, despite advancements and providers’ heavy investments in technology.  Almost 8 in 10 of those patients say “seeing a doctor/practitioner quickly” is their biggest pain point. Other major factors include the level of friction involved in scheduling and registering for care and obtaining accurate pricing estimates before services are rendered. Patient access tools can help ensure that patients receive the care they need in a timely, efficient manner.

Breaking down barriers for friction-free patient access

What hinders patients’ ability to see their doctor quickly? For some, the obstacles are logistical: patients may live far from facilities or lack reliable transportation to get to appointments. Others may have financial concerns, where a lack of insurance coverage or fear of mounting bills prevents them from seeking care. Language and cultural barriers can make it difficult to engage with healthcare services.

But for many, it comes down to friction in the “patient access” process itself. This includes long wait times for appointments, disjointed scheduling systems, manual registration processes, and limited payment options. These processes are not only critical to patient satisfaction but also have real consequences for the patient’s health and the provider’s bottom line. One effective approach to improve access to care is to continue leveraging patient access tools, which has been proven successful in several use cases.

Use case 1: Reduce wait times with online self-scheduling

Among patients who think access has worsened over the last two years, 49% say their main challenge is finding appointments that fit their schedule, while 40% blame the scheduling process itself. Online self-scheduling solves both, making it easier to book and reducing wait times.

With online self-scheduling, patients can log on to book appointments any time they like. There’s no need to wait until the phone lines open and speak to customer support representatives. A self-scheduling tool like Patient Schedule can incorporate each provider’s business rules and scheduling protocols, so patients get real-time access to the earliest available appointments. By allowing patients to easily cancel or reschedule appointments, same-day slots can be opened up to other patients, so they can see their doctor sooner.

Use case 2: Increase operational efficiency with digital patient registration

Staffing shortages are an ongoing stressor for providers, so making the best use of available staff time is crucial. Patient intake software can automate many of the manual activities associated with patient registration, such as helping patients fill out forms or manually entering information into electronic health records.

In addition, more than 8 in 10 providers say their patients prefer an online registration experience. This corroborates earlier findings from a study by Experian Health and PYMNTS, which found that a third of patients prefer to fill out registration forms at home. Experian Health’s Patient Intake Solutions allow patients to complete registration from their mobile. Data can be automatically pre-filled and checked against existing records to save time and avoid errors. Not only is this more appealing to patients than filling out forms in a stuffy waiting room, but it also helps drive down the risk of costly and time-consuming denials.

Use case 3: Boost patient engagement with targeted patient outreach

Another way to leverage patient access technology is through targeted, automated outreach. With automated text message (SMS) and interactive voice response (IVR) campaigns, patients can receive a personalized link to schedule their appointment directly. Alerts can be sent when earlier appointments become available, which both reduces wait lists and makes it more likely that patients will book. Patients can be sent bill reminders and payment options in the same way.

Automated outreach solutions that incorporate reliable consumer data make sure patients get the details they need in a format and timeframe that helps them take action.

Use case 4: Speed up collections with accurate estimates and payment plans

As rising staffing and supply costs put a squeeze on healthcare profit margins, expediting collections is crucial. This begins with patient access: if patients can pay for care right at the start of their healthcare journey, this eases pressure on both parties to make sure bills are paid in a timely manner. Upgrading payment technology to include upfront pricing estimates, payment plan recommendations and convenient payment methods can all help patients better manage their financial responsibility.

Unfortunately, it’s still common for patients to go into procedures without knowing how much they’ll owe. In Experian Health’s survey, 65% of patients said they did not receive an estimate prior to care, and 40% said they were likely to cancel care without advance notice of costs. Leveraging tools such as Patient Financial Advisor and Patient Payment Estimates can automatically arm patients with the information they need to plan and manage their bills.

Utilizing patient access tools to meet patients’ expectations

It is evident from the results of the State of Patient Access 2023 survey that patient access remains an issue. To ensure patients receive the care they need in a timely and efficient manner, providers must make a concerted effort to leverage digital technology. Although healthcare providers have made great strides in providing more efficient patient access solutions, clearly there is still much progress to be made.  The success of any patient-focused initiative relies heavily on being able to meet patients’ expectations with timely, effective tools and resources. As healthcare evolves and continues to put a priority on improving outcomes, it’s important to take proactive steps toward ensuring the best possible experience for patients when accessing their care.

Find out more about how Experian Health’s patient access tools can improve patient access and increase profitability for healthcare providers.

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