How Monument Health transformed the patient experience with a digital solution

Patient convenience is rarely something that complex health systems are able to truly tackle, and the issue has only been exacerbated by the need to prepare for possible surges in patient volumes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monument Health, a five-hospital health system based in Rapid City, S.D., was prepared to serve an additional 500 patients in its 400-bed hospitals, but to more-than-double capacity, it had to get creative not only with space but with staffing, according to Robin Zebrowski, vice president of strategic marketing and communications at the health system. To be able to safely serve its patients, the health system had to get telehealth up and running within a matter of weeks, where it would normally have taken a year. 

It is expected that demand for telehealth visits will still be high after the pandemic is over, and to successfully implement telehealth, health systems have to figure out how to offer patient convenience in a way that doesn't lose the personal attributes of engaging with patients face to face. Ms. Zebrowski, along with Craig Daly, vice president of healthcare solutions at Podium, discussed strategies for health systems to increase patient convenience during a Sept. 2 Becker's Patient Experience + Marketing Virtual Forum panel sponsored by Podium. 

Five key takeaways from the panel: 

  1. It's critical for health systems to communicate with patients through their preferred channels. One of the biggest challenges to improving patient convenience is identifying the right messaging platform. According to a Podium analysis, 96 percent of healthcare complaints are related to customer service, and 89 percent of consumers say they would like the option to message a business directly, according to a 2016 Twilio Global Messaging Consumer Report. Offering a video chat option is key to allowing direct communication with patients in a way that still offers the personal touch of seeing each other face to face. Texting is another way to meet patients where they are. About two-thirds of consumers say they'd prefer to text businesses, but only 17 percent of patients currently engage with their providers via text. Podium's platform allows providers to initiate conversations via text and move to a secure web browser to continue the conversation to ensure compliance with HIPAA standards.

  2. Health systems need to keep in touch with patients before, after and in between appointments. Nearly 70 percent of patients say they specifically want more communication after they leave the provider's office and before they return for their next scheduled visit, according to Mr. Daly. A study he cited found that patients could only remember about 40 percent of the advice and instructions they received in a medical appointment and often wish to ask follow up questions after leaving the office. If a provider is able to communicate with patients via text messages to answer any follow up questions, the patient is more likely to report an overall positive experience.

  3. Optimizing your Google search reviews leads to increased visibility. On Google, 75 percent of all clicks go to the top three to five search results. The more reviews an organization has, the more Google drives that organization to the top of the search results list, meaning the more likely patients are to click on your organization. Ms. Zebrowski said Monument Health did a thorough audit of its Google reviews a year ago and saw a need to increase its number of reviews. In the eight months since implementing Podium's software, the health system has seen a 26.4 percent increase in average review ratings and has received 6.5 times more reviews submitted per month. It also doubled its five star review rate and saw an 8 percent increase in calls from Google My Business.

  4. Respond to negative Google reviews. Ms. Zebrowski said it's important to engage with negative reviews, as a lot of times people just want to be heard and if their concerns are addressed, they're more likely to go back and change a negative review to a positive one. Nearly 90 percent of all consumers read a Google review to determine the quality of a local business, Mr. Daly said, and 72 percent of consumers say a positive review increases their trust in that business.

    Podium's software sends a text message to patients immediately after an appointment asking them to fill out a Google review as well as a text two to three days later asking the patient to fill out an HCAHPS survey. Monument Health saw a response rate increase when patients were asked to fill out both surveys, Ms. Zebrowski said.

  5. Improve your revenue cycle management by collecting payments via text message using Podium's software. Mr. Daly said that if texts get opened, bills are more likely to be paid. Podium users have seen a 300 percent improvement in conversion over traditional collections methods and 25 percent savings on keyed-in and card-not-present payments. Offering the ability to pay via text message is also a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself from other health systems, Mr. Daly said. 

To learn more about Podium, click here

To view the full virtual event panel on demand, click here

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