By Brian Maguire, CEO, RavePoint.
It was almost 10 years ago that five roadblocks to patient care were defined, including the following:
- Integration of technology
- Organization culture
When I look at that list of roadblocks now, I wonder if we can really claim to have overcome any of them. But rather than look at this list as what we haven’t achieved, let’s look at it as an opportunity to improve healthcare for patients, practitioners, and organizations.
There are still clearly issues with the first three roadblocks (cost, integration of technology, and technology). I don’t have to tell you that healthcare payment and reform is a major issue of the U.S. presidential campaign. Looking back at the recent past, even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the beginning of the integration of electronic health records, healthcare probably doesn’t cost appreciably less for patients than it did in 2011.
Still, almost a decade after these roadblocks were identified, many electronic health record systems cannot communicate with other such systems. This communication also does not even begin to consider data privacy protection and the need to meet HIPAA regulations.
However, artificial intelligence, new imaging modalities, better prosthetics, and more illustrate how technology is moving healthcare forward.
The last two roadblocks, organizational culture and relevance, come down to patient communication and what patients want and need. We finally have the technology to help practices communicate with patients in ways that are convenient for the patient, not just the practice. Fortunately, the ways in which practices communicate with patients has evolved significantly over the last decade.
Patient relationship management
Organizational culture and relevance are the two roadblocks where real change may be happening. With the further widespread use of communications technology for patients and evolving patient relationship management software for practices, healthcare practices now have the ability to find out what patients want, what kind of care they require, and how the practice is doing in their eyes.
Did you know that around 7% of patients will find a different healthcare provider if they aren’t satisfied with their care or some other aspect of their experience at an office, including how a practice communicates? If a practice has 2,000 patients, that’s 140 patients that may leave each year. And when those patients leave there is additional time and expense in administration and in marketing — just to stay at the same level the practice was at previously.
Patient relationship management (PRM) software can help a busy practice understand patient satisfaction and build better relationships. As an example, a practice can use its PRM software to develop a short survey for its patients. The practice might want to know about a new provider in the office, the front-desk experience, what new services the practice should consider adding, and more.
Better communication and compliance
An October 2019 report in Medical Economics stated that 83% of practices that used PRM technology said they were able to communicate better with their patients and 81% of practices that used PRM software now had a no-show rate of 10% or less.
What this means for practices may be no less than a revolution in how healthcare is communicated to patients. Patient relationship management software, fully integrated with a practice management system, offers the opportunity to increase patient treatment compliance, increase practice efficiency, and boost a practice’s revenues.
Systems that safely integrate with new monitoring technologies such as wearable devices can provide the patient and the practice with important information to monitor and improve a patient’s health. Privacy and security concerns must be well thought out and constantly monitored, but an opportunity exists to work with the patient on a scale never before seen.
This includes how a patient wishes to be communicated with. Does a patient want to receive a text (that does not include HIPAA-protected information) about appointments or general health reminders? Or would that patient rather receive an email newsletter from a practice?
Does a patient have a condition that requires monitoring or regular at-home testing? Patient relationship management software facilitates sending these reminders to patients in a way in a way they welcome rather than find intrusive.
Maybe a patient at a dental practice has severe dental anxiety and often neglects appointments and basic oral healthcare. Rather than just include this in the notes the practice reviews in their morning huddle, patient relationship management software allows a practice to address the patient’s treatment anxiety beforehand, sending gentle reminders and building trust with a patient.
While the benefits are numerous, so are the risks of data breaches, data being held for ransom, and other security concerns. No client is too small to ignore the risks, but this is an opportunity to allay many of these concerns and build ongoing trust with your clients.
However, these concerns should also be presented as an opportunity for a practice to build trust with and educate their patients, as it is for your company with your client. The opportunities for practice growth and improved patient health are considerable and can be achieved for everyone’s benefit.