How to Improve Patient Experience Scores? Prioritize Digital Patient Engagement

Seismic industry shifts, including the impacts of delayed care during the pandemic, are impacting hospitals and health systems, creating waves in an already financially strained industry. Care avoidance led to lower visit volumes, and while labor costs are increasing, staff burnout is more prevalent than ever—all are affecting profitability.

March 08, 2022

Many seismic industry shifts are impacting hospitals and health systems and creating waves in an already financially strained industry. These include the effects of delayed care during the pandemic. In general, care avoidance led to lower visit volumes, and while labor costs are increasing, staff burnout is more prevalent than ever—with all of these trends affecting healthcare organizations’ profitability. However, these trends also drive a hidden cost to patients as well. Delayed or avoided care can lead to a poor patient experience, thanks to fewer high-quality healthcare interactions, while staff burnout can mean missed opportunities for patient engagement. 

Studies further show that patient experience can also directly impact health system financial performance, adding to these burdens. As such, it stands to reason that health systems looking to improve profitability must focus on encouraging patients to return to care and optimizing the patient journey—in short, to bolster revenue, these organizations should also look into how to improve patient experience over time. 

Industry data supports this assumption. In Intrado’s recent survey of College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) members, health IT leaders shared their top three goals included improving the patient experience (91%), bolstering financial performance through more patient visits (68%) and reducing staff workload (49%). 

Fortunately, digital patient engagement can help solve the top issues on the minds of healthcare executives and enable communication that aligns with these goals far beyond the pandemic.

Additional industry data explains, by examining health IT leaders’ various technology investment priorities, how to improve patient experience scores by better communicating and connecting with patients. There were three distinct areas of interest revealed by respondents when asked to rate their top three technology to-dos.

77% want enhancements to portals and mobile apps

Following significant investments made in patient portals over the years, it makes sense that health systems want to continue to leverage this channel for patient engagement. However, portals come with their own set of challenges including the cognitive burden associated with log-in and password information for patients, navigational difficulties and perceptions of limited usefulness. While patient portals are obviously a foundational technology—they must be supplemented by other strategies that were also top-of-mind for these executives. 

51% plan to engaging patients via SMS for different workflows

Certainly SMS outreach is key among these strategies. Patients have spoken and texting is a resounding “yes”—SMS is the preferred communication channel when it comes to interacting with their healthcare providers. Yet today, only 11% of survey respondents said SMS or text is a top channel used by their organizations.

34% will invest in websites and chatbots

Over a third of respondents said they are prioritizing investments in their online presence, including tools like chatbots to provide human-like, two-way communication when patients need assistance. 

So, while nearly half of those surveyed are still using patient portals as the primary method for communication and engaging with patients, interactive SMS can complement portal usage by addressing real-time, two-way communication needs. And like the synergies between patient portals and SMS, chatbots and web tools can accompany existing technology by providing patients an added level of convenience when staying in touch about their care. In contrast, only 7% of health IT leaders said they would be prioritizing call center software. This low ranking clearly demonstrates that today’s technology leaders and ready to “hang up the phone” on manual phone outreach.

For a deeper dive on what health IT decision makers are prioritizing (and curbing) when it comes to patient engagement, download the full survey report here. And if you’d like to learn more about how to improve patient experience scores using HouseCalls Pro, all while bolstering revenue and reducing the burdens placed on staff members, contact our team today

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