By Branden Neish, chief product and technology officer, Weave.
Economic challenges are causing small healthcare practices to reduce spending and rework balance sheets. Yet, some healthcare leaders are cutting funds in areas that may end up hurting them in the long run, particularly when it comes to digital solutions.
While digital solutions may sometimes end up near the bottom of a practice’s hierarchy of needs when compared to labor, supplies, rent and utilities, they can have a “make or break” impact on patient experience. And as patients are the lifeblood of any practice, their satisfaction will ultimately determine success or failure.
Amid unprecedented labor shortages plaguing the industry, healthcare staff members don’t have time to be bogged down with time-consuming administrative tasks that take away from patient care. As such, the need for digital solutions becomes doubly important to streamline and automate administrative tasks like scheduling, appointment reminders, payment processing and patient communications.
It is crucial to prioritize patient experience, optimize staff workflows and eliminate unnecessary expenses. Healthcare practices should focus on tools that deliver the highest return on investment in terms of time and cost, ultimately enhancing the experiences of both patients and staff.
Improve experiences for staff and patients
Small healthcare practices must place patient experience as the number one priority, as it can set them apart from larger providers. However, some factors limiting patient experience today are the ongoing staffing shortages and the abundance of administrative work that employees have to manage.
In fact, a Weave survey on patient experience found that 2 out of 3 small healthcare businesses are short-staffed. Patients are feeling the effects with appointments being rushed and a lack of personalization in the in-office experience, which can have a tangible impact on a practice’s bottom line by resulting in fewer appointments and lower revenue.
As staff members grapple with extensive administrative burdens, patients may feel neglected and grow increasingly restless. In the past, providers may have supplemented front desk staff with additional workers, but the limited talent pool has made this nearly impossible.
Oftentimes, phone calls, incompatible software and paper intake forms are the culprits of unnecessary work for staff. To truly focus workers’ attention on patients and improve quality of care, offices should evaluate the manual procedures they have in place and identify areas to streamline processes, such as digital solutions that consolidate patient communication, payments and other administrative tasks in one place.
Streamline operations and eliminate wasted spending
When considering how to improve patient and staff experience with a more constrained budget, evaluate your practice’s tech solutions holistically. Many organizations operate on outdated systems that are costly, don’t play nice together and ultimately inflate spending and waste staff hours. An office may be using separate systems for phones, email marketing, online scheduling and insurance verification, when all of these features can be found in a more modern, all-in-one solution for greater ROI.
A “return on investment” doesn’t solely apply to a dollar amount. Streamlining to one simple, automated solution reaps benefits for staff and patients. Implementing an all-in-one platform that manages everything from intake forms to payments streamlines processes, facilitates easy appointment adjustments and provides flexibility in patient-provider communication preferences.
In addition, staff members can more easily – and more quickly – connect with patients seamlessly through phone calls, texts and emails, requiring less staff time and focus than manual processes. Keep in mind that your employees are your most valuable asset, and retention is crucial to success and business continuity. A happier workforce also improves the practice’s overall relationship with patients.
The healthcare industry has undergone significant challenges in the past several years. If smaller practices are to maintain patient satisfaction and loyalty to remain competitive, they must invest in technological tools that can further their practice, enhance staff and patient experiences and thereby improve the bottom line. By taking stock of your technology and identifying tools that streamline tasks for your employees and offer a high-impact ROI, practices can unlock incredible value for their organization and for their patients.