Improve the patient journey with digital tools

Published: June 28, 2023 by Experian Health


To improve the patient journey, providers need to think like consumers. Patients are accustomed to convenience and choice in industries such as retail and banking, and expect the same of their healthcare experience. How quickly can they see their doctor? How easy is it to book appointments? Are they going to be handed a stack of paper forms when they arrive? From scheduling appointments to making payments, every touchpoint in the patient journey is an opportunity to meet and exceed expectations. To improve the patient journey, providers will need to utilize digital tools.

Providers that put themselves in the patients’ shoes and find ways to make patient access as frictionless as possible will secure a competitive advantage. Learn how digital technology can enhance healthcare providers’ ability to deliver flexible, efficient, and supportive care throughout the patient journey. This article draws upon the insights of Experian Health’s State of Patient Access 2023 report to explore the benefits of utilizing digital tools and solutions in healthcare.

In 2023, Experian Health surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. patients & 200 healthcare providers to learn about the state of patient access. Get exclusive insights:

Before the appointment: how easy is it for patients to schedule care?

The patient journey should begin with a welcoming “digital front door”. Demand is clear: according to the State of Patient Access 2023 survey, 56% of patients want more digital options to manage their healthcare. Specifically, 76% say they would like to schedule appointments online or via a mobile device. Creating an inviting, convenient and user-friendly online presence will encourage patients to book more appointments.

A multi-purpose online portal gives patients the flexibility to take care of appointment bookings anytime, anywhere. Automated patient scheduling also reduces pressure on call center staff, who are then able to offer extra support to individuals who need it. Real-time status updates and automated appointment reminders ensure patients see their doctor as soon as possible and reduce the risk of no-shows. By creating a seamless transition between a provider’s online presence and physical office, tools like Patient Schedule can create an efficient experience for both staff and patients.

Arriving for care: is pre-registration simple and streamlined?

Patients deserve a seamless and stress-free experience when arriving for their appointment. Unfortunately, traditional paper forms can be tedious and redundant. Incomplete forms can also lead to delays in treatment.

Online self-check-in options and virtual waiting rooms allow providers to move registration out of the waiting area and into the patient’s home or mobile device. With a digital front door, patients can complete pre-registration tasks, get accurate price estimates and even pay their bills before their appointment, via text or online portal. Automated tools can prefill identity information to keep errors and gaps at bay, and avoid claim denials and delays further on in the patient journey. A painless, paperless registration experience is easier and quicker for patients and saves time and resources for providers.

Planning for bills: are patients getting upfront pricing estimates?

Providers have many opportunities to improve the patient financial journey. Experian Health’s survey found that 40% of patients would cancel or postpone care without accurate estimates, yet 65% did not receive them. That price transparency isn’t the norm is surprising, given the legislative push in recent years. Medical bills can be extremely complex, so providing a detailed breakdown of expected costs is a great way to improve the patient experience.

Patient Estimates is a web-based tool that allows patients to generate accurate estimates using their current insurance and benefits information, before or at the point of service. Patients can also be offered personalized financial assistance options including payment plans and charity care. For patients that prefer to take care of business via their mobile device, Patient Financial Advisor offers a similar service via secure text message. Patients get a clear cost breakdown and a link to make secure payments. When financial management is easier for patients, providers are more likely to get paid.

Paying for care: do patients have a choice of payment methods?

In addition to clear and upfront pricing, providers can enhance the financial experience by offering multiple convenient payment options. Digital-first consumers are looking for the same self-service, secure, one-click payment options that they use for other purchases. Providers that enable digital patient payment tools earlier in the process are not only delivering a more satisfying patient experience, but they’re also more likely to be paid sooner. With Experian Health’s Patient Payment Solutions, providers can collect payments 24/7 via mobile, web and patient portals.

Leveraging digital technology to improve the patient journey

Alex Harwitz, VP, Digital Front Door, at Experian Health, says that patient loyalty is increasingly tied to digital offerings:

“Whether we’re talking about scheduling, registration or payments, the message from the State of Patient Access 2023 survey is clear: patients are looking for transparency, convenience and a significant amount of control. They’re more likely to choose providers that offer these benefits and switch away from those that don’t. For example, nearly a quarter have considered looking for a different provider because of a poor payment experience.”

The realization that a better patient access experience results in better business outcomes is almost universal among providers. And with advancing patient access technology, providers now have more ways to deliver a consumer-friendly experience that allows patients to focus on their health, and not on the admin of care.

Download the State of Patient Access 2023 – the Digital Front Door, to find out more about patient and provider perspectives on how to improve the patient journey.

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