Patient engagement technology is quickly becoming a must-have in urgent care. We all knew that patients would eventually expect certain conveniences — like remote check-in — to be the norm. But COVID-19 accelerated these trends. Urgent care is now seen as on-demand healthcare, and the clinics that cannot deliver digital engagement will soon be considered archaic.
Outside of keeping up with patient demands, what are the real advantages of this technology?
We talk a lot about how patients benefit from engagement tools because we know you put patients first. And engaging them in their own care empowers them to make more informed decisions and take control of their own health.
But what about the clinic? How does patient engagement technology help your business — and your staff — come out better at the end of the day? Let’s explore these tools through the lens of an urgent care operator.
Patient engagement technology refers to patient-facing tools that make scheduling, communication, and healthcare management remotely accessible. It provides convenience for patients as well as a platform to provide feedback and feel heard.
In general, the tools that give patients a better experience simultaneously help staff be more efficient and help the clinic both increase and optimize revenue.
Here are some of the most impactful clinical benefits of the most popular patient engagement functionality.
COVID-19 has triggered a revolution in patient expectations. Pre-pandemic, online check-ins were available but rare. By reducing the in-person interaction leading to an appointment during the public health emergency, remote check-ins became a requirement to mitigate risk.
In today’s world of masks and sanitizer pumps, patients have an increased awareness that the contactless check-in option is safer. One Accenture survey found 74 percent of patients are now likely to digitally submit check-in information ahead of appointments. This improves performance of your front desk staff, who now spends less time registering these patients, and also reduces the risk of making data entry mistakes.
The researchers also underlined the value of remote check-ins as a communication opportunity.
“The pandemic has amplified the need to deliver safe, convenient, and accessible care — but patients aren’t always aware of the measures providers have put in place,” according to the Accenture report. “Personalized communications and targeted outreach should make clear to consumers what providers are doing to deliver care safely.”
This type of communication does more than just put your patients at ease. The study found that virtual care and other safety precautions can make or break their decision to return to a clinic. “Perhaps most critical is that 64 percent of patients are likely — or highly likely — to switch to a new health system if their expectations are not met regarding sanitary and safety protocols, access to up-to-date information and the availability of virtual care options.”
So not only are new patients more likely to choose you when you provide them online check-ins, but they are also more likely to return – increasing the opportunity for future revenue. And by helping your staff cut out tasks, they can better focus on other aspects of the patient experience.
With smart technology to manage your patient queues, you open the door to all kinds of patient engagement optimizations. You can have multiple distinct queues based on patient need, which helps to speed up throughput. Clinics with multiple locations can take advantage of load-balance capabilities, evenly dispersing patient volumes across all of your clinics. This helps you not just manage volume but see more patients in a day.
After the appointment is over, you can use your technology to generate transformational data sets. Leveraging the right queue technology means you can report on operational factors — such as wait times, door-to-door time, and overall patient intake processes.
Queue reporting allows you to make better decisions about next week’s staffing or improve your clinical workflows. At a time when urgent care clinics are seeing record-high numbers, this can both protect your revenue and prevent burnout for your staff.
Even before the pandemic drove us to seek remote healthcare engagements, the Internet had become consumers’ number one source of information about local doctors, according to a Professional Research Consultants survey. Over half of patients were likely to use Google or other search engines to find a new doctor.
Compared to selecting a primary care provider or specialist, decisions about urgent care tend to be quicker. That short customer journey makes it all the more important for urgent care providers to proactively manage their reputation. If a father picks up a sick child from school and searches for “urgent care near me,” what’s the first review they’ll see about your business?
With the right reputation management tool, you have the power to influence those search results. Experity’s tool tracks Net Promoter Score (NPS), a popular metric for customer loyalty and satisfaction. NPS surveys ask one question right after a visit: “On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend our services to friends and family?”
With this simple question, you can extract all kinds of information. You can break down your NPS scores by visit type, location, provider, and patient demographics. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled team scorecards and automated alerts provide immediate visibility into provider and staff performance. Not only can you see trends in NPS, but you can also hear the patient’s feedback in their own words. In addition, with quick feedback to not only positive, but also negative clinic experiences, you have the opportunity to address the concerns of unhappy patients and let them know you want to make it better.
Leveraging patient engagement technology helps you increase your revenue by not only attracting and retaining more patients, but by improving efficiency to see more patients in a day. Furthermore, features like pre-registration improve accuracy — like insurance details — making it easier to process claims and manage billing.
Not all patient engagement tools perfectly fit the urgent care model, though. While you can still benefit from these platforms, you will have the most efficient workflow and reporting functionality with a tool that works the way you do and integrates with your EMR/PM solution.
Experity’s patient engagement platform fuels patient engagement from queue to review, and it provides actionable insights to improve safety and patient experience. Plus, it connects seamlessly with our EMR/PM and other tools.