How patient engagement solutions support the clinician mission — 3 takeaways

Patient experience is one of the most important benchmarks of success in healthcare. Organizations that offer digital convenience consistently see better outcomes and competitive advantages.

During Becker’s Hospital Review’s 12th Annual Meeting, in a roundtable sponsored by Nuance Communications, Tony Oliva, DO, vice president and chief medical officer of Nuance, discussed why patient experience is a top priority for health systems. He also described how a patient engagement strategy that combines automation with human-to-human interaction enhances the patient-clinician experience and achieves financial benefits.

Three key takeaways were:

  1. Patient experience is the new battleground. Consumer experiences in areas outside of healthcare have raised expectations everywhere. Patients increasingly expect to be able to reach their healthcare provider via any channel at any time of day. Further, three-quarters of patients expect consistency across channels, and as many as 85 percent prefer self-serve options that bypass wait times and live agents, according to research cited by Dr. Oliva.

    With telehealth on the rise and a more expansive geography of providers to choose from, evolving patient expectations mean an unsatisfactory digital experience is more likely to prompt switching providers. “Most patient experience challenges have nothing to do with me as a provider,” Dr. Oliva said, describing the gravity of digital experiences on care decisions. “They happen before I ever got involved.” Patient experience is critical to attracting and retaining patients — and a key factor in patient outcomes. Engaged patients are more likely to adopt preventive health behaviors and treatment plans, improving health outcomes. 

  2. Although a patient engagement strategy aims to improve the patient experience, clinicians can benefit from the technology. Automation gives physicians valuable time back in their day and allows them to focus on higher-value clinical tasks. Tools that automate patient support — resetting patient portal passwords, getting answers to logistical questions, or readying devices for telehealth appointments — resolve issues and help them manage their care without involving physicians and care teams. Frequent communication builds trust and strengthens the patient-clinician relationship. By automating notifications, physicians can help patients adhere to follow-up and preventative care without time-consuming manual outreach.  As an example, Nuance offers appointment management. This solution helps achieve:

    • Cost efficiencies when appointment reminders decrease no-shows and ensure patient preparedness to increase revenue capture and optimize schedules.

    • Better health outcomes when real-time interactive rescheduling capabilities mean newly-available appointment slots are filled, reducing patient backlogs and promoting timely care.

    • Good experiences since scheduling or rescheduling by phone does not involve frustrating phone menus and long wait times.

  3. A single, omnichannel patient engagement solution unifies interactions and infrastructure. Centralized communication underpinned by a common infrastructure that integrates with organization systems leads to frictionless, personalized online chat, voice, and SMS experiences throughout the patient journey. Flexible convenience empowers patients to manage their care, growing loyalty, wellness, and satisfaction. Meanwhile, unobtrusive, in-workflow technology allows clinicians to manage patient populations better with minimal effort.

For all the heavy lifting patient engagement technology can do, there will always be a need to keep humans in the loop. Automating everyday tasks is a smart way to use technology. Patients complete tasks quickly with self-service. And freeing live agents of those tasks makes them more readily available to patients with complex and sensitive issues. “If you try to create a solution that eliminates the use of humans, it’s probably going to fall short of what you need,” Dr. Oliva said.

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