Combating Physician Burnout in the Digital Era

Physician_Burnout.jpeg

Physicians are burning out at alarming rates, and we should all be paying close attention.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), provider burnout now exceeds 50%.

For physicians, the negative health effects have serious consequences. Physicians now have the highest suicide rate of any profession In real terms, one physician is lost in the U.S. every day to suicide. This is an epidemic affecting all service lines, women and men, across rural and urban settings. Stories of depression, lack of desire to perform at a high level, and chronic fatigue abound.

Obviously this is impacting patient care. This makes conceptual sense—a burnt out provider will be less effective, resulting in declining outcomes, reduced patient engagement, frustration in the ‘system’ and poorer population health. And while the human costs are highest and most important, there are also financial costs for health systems and practices. Discussed at a panel at this year’s Becker’s Hospital Review Health IT + Clinical Leadership 2018 Conference, Dr. Tim Lineberry of Aurora Health made an important statement about physician burnout: “Burnout is a business issue. If you lose one physician … that's an immediate issue from a revenue standpoint.” This makes a troubling human issue a troubling business issue for health systems and hospitals.

One industry-wide, measurable effect of physician burnout is a physician shortage. Recent research by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicts a physician shortage of 100,000 by 2030. This shortage will be partially caused by physician burnout while simultaneously driving physician burnout, as efficiency and productivity expectations continue to increase for physicians. The result is an accelerating and deepening crisis.

How can we address physician burnout?

Many experts have pointed to the EMR as a primary culprit for physician burnout. This is because physicians spend roughly 50% of their day interfacing with an EMR. One solution to the EMR issue is to increase the usage of scribes. Currently underutilized, scribes are proven to improve physician satisfaction and reduce burnout by cutting the time a physician spends on documentation in half.

Scribes are certainly not the only group that can help address physician burnout. To more directly address the current physician shortage, policy and regulatory changes should be made to place more investment in Nurse Practitioners. A growing base of skilled providers, Nurse Practitioners are crucial to filling care gaps and to meet patient needs that do not require a physician. Given limited time and resources, physicians need to focus on the most urgent and crucial medical needs of the population, and leave pap smears and other procedures to other providers who are trained and able to give quality care.

The Keys to Any Physician Burnout Improvement Strategy

Most importantly, addressing physician burnout requires a clear strategy that takes into account the following components. According to Karen Weiner, CEO of Oregon Medical Group, “Best practice is to identify the sources of stress for the physicians of that particular setting, identify relevant interventions, create metrics with baselines and goals, then watch closely for improvements over time, and tweak the interventions as needed.” Following this expertise, there is no silver bullet or one-size-fits all solution to address physician burnout. The daily sources of stress for an orthopaedic surgeon will differ from the sources of stress that an urgent care provider has.

Technology: Friend or Foe?

What role can technology play in addressing physician burnout? Is technology only a hindrance? If utilized for peak performance, technology can alleviate some daily stressors for physicians:

  1. Patient intake and workflow management - for physicians who view decreasing control over their schedules as a daily source of stress, there are solutions that address patient intake and workflow management. The goal of these solutions is to replicate nuances, like intake protocols and custom workflows, within the provider’s schedule. This ensures the right patient sees the right provider at the right time.

  2. Algorithm-driven patient navigation - allows the patient to be ‘steered’ to the optimal provider. This could be closest/soonest, a member of the care team, or a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant, all designed to alleviate the schedule stresses of the physician and her or his practice management system.

  3. Telehealth - a key component of the physician shortage issue, and by extension physician burnout, is location. There are not enough providers in certain localities. Telehealth solutions exist that take location out of the equation, allowing greater access to care for otherwise underserved communities. For these localities, greater access to telehealth translates to decreased burden on local providers.

  4. Healthcare IT compliance automation - in a highly regulated environment, physicians need automation to remain in compliance with all regulations. Solutions that automate compliance lessen the burden on physicians and support staff when it comes to compliance.

In summary, there are a multitude of methods to address the physician burnout crisis including manpower and technology. Prior to implementing any solution, however, the first and most crucial step is to listen to providers, determine their top sources of stress, implement solutions and refine them on an ongoing basis. This strategic thinking and listening should guide any and all investments in alleviating physician burnout. The human issue of physician burnout will only be solved by listening to physicians and addressing their specific needs.

Protecting Network Integrity in an Evolving Digital Landscape

Faucet.jpeg

Protecting Network Integrity In an Evolving Digital Landscape

What exactly is network integrity?

According to The Advisory Board, “Network integrity is your system’s ability to keep patients within your defined network of providers who are employed, affiliated, or in some way aligned with your organization. This could include a hospital, employed medical group, an ACO, CI network, or an independent physician organization.

By this definition, network integrity is an enterprise-wide effort. Providers must be on board with a health system’s network integrity efforts to minimize patient leakage across the enterprise. One of the most important parts of network integrity is the patient experience. While patient experience involves a number of factors, including in-patient experience, communication with the provider and the care administered, an increasing component of patient experience is mobile engagement.

Mobile engagement and patient experience are both rapidly changing and increasingly important to health systems and practices. According to a July 2018 Black Box Market Research survey, consumer expectations for healthcare providers are increasing. 92% of healthcare consumers surveyed say that improving customer experience should be a top strategic priority for medical providers over the next twelve months.  

These changing expectations are changing consumer behavior at a rapid pace. To illustrate, 88% of consumers under 40 say they'll choose their next provider based on online presence. Simply put, if providers and health systems fail to meet consumer expectations, which include having provider profiles and schedules online—network integrity will diminish as patients switch to more modernized providers. The key takeaway is that provider switching and shopping is happening now—and is threatening network integrity for health systems and practices across the country.

How to Maintain Network Integrity in a Rapidly Changing Market

There are at least three things that providers can do now to invest in network integrity to achieve real benefits over the coming years:

1. Improve your digital front door and digital curb appeal

To welcome consumers and retain them, providers need a welcoming digital front door. Consumers should be able to access a practice and its providers through a variety of digital access points including search engines, maps, digital assistants and social media. Additionally, practices need to develop digital curb appeal online through a consistent brand experience that promotes the provider’s brand.

While digital front doors and curb appeal are often associated with customer acquisition, the rise of doctor shopping and switching have turned these components into core tenets of maintaining network integrity. Having poor digital curb appeal is a threat to any health system’s network integrity because loyalty is being replaced with rapid provider switching.

2. Syndicate provider profiles, location data and schedules across digital channels

While it’s clear that provider profiles need to be visible across digital access points, less literature exists on effective ways to achieve this. Fortunately, companies such as Yext syndicate provider data across digital access points. Solutions such as Yext allow for control over the brand experience, thereby promoting a health system’s brand and providers.

3. Referral management

It’s simple—broken referral processes cost the healthcare industry an estimated $150 billion each year. Therefore, referral management is a high impact piece of any network integrity initiative. While there are several ways to address referral management, including reducing lead times and sharing data across constituents, a comprehensive referral management solution should be in place to protect network integrity.

With referral management, patient-provider matching is an often overlooked component. By ensuring that patients are navigated to specialists with the right expertise, waste is reduced and the patient experience is enhanced.

Many factors including patient experience, referral management, digital front doors, patient-provider matching, patient access and patient engagement affect network integrity. At the end of the day, however, network integrity is about getting a few key things right: first, welcoming patients into your network at multiple access points; second, providing a positive experience; and third, making it convenient for consumers to return. In a rapidly evolving landscape, these core tenets can help protect a health system’s network integrity.

4 Keys to Accurate and Standardized Healthcare Data

Data_Person.jpeg

Accurate and standardized data. It sounds a bit aspirational, doesn’t it? The struggle of interoperability and standardized healthcare data is an ongoing battle. With well-documented barriers, it isn’t clear when healthcare data will become more accessible and standardized. According to some industry experts, the lack of healthcare data standardization is a key barrier to interoperability in the healthcare industry.

While barriers are often high, the advantages of standardized data are significant. Benefits can range from taking less time for statistical analysis to requiring less oversight and resource allocation. Regardless of the application, from clinical trials to supply chain management, data is king when it comes to saving money.

While an individual or an entire organization doesn’t have the bandwidth to tackle all data standardization and interoperability challenges within healthcare, these issues are still worth addressing, even if on a smaller scale. By developing a model for standardizing your data for a small subset, you can create a blueprint for success.

Four keys to developing accurate and standardized data

1. Capture data from disparate sources

For your database to contain all of the most relevant, accurate and up-to-date data, the database must capture that information from various sources. For different use cases, sources can range from patient intake forms to electronic health records (EHRs) to CRM systems. Across applications, the ability to capture this data through integration is crucial to data standardization.

2. Reconcile data

If different sources have different values for a record, two things need to happen. First, no duplication should occur. Second, the most accurate or up-to-date record should become the ‘master record’. For example, if the patient Sally Ride changes her last name to Morris and has records that contain both her current and previous name, then the following must happen: you must have a process to determine which record is up-to-date; the accurate record must become the ‘master’ record; and thirdly, any duplicates containing the outdated name must be deleted.

3. Data mapping and normalization

When standardizing data, it’s important to determine what will be normalized. This approach will determine which key pieces of data can be used across applications. To aid this effort, we recommend that you develop a normalization matrix. Additionally, you should create or refine your data mapping, which describes the relationships between different entities in your database. This allows you to map your “dirty data” to new, standardized fields and values. By creating an accurate data mapping, you can avoid repeating old mistakes in the future. Click here to learn more about creating a data model (also known as an entity relationship diagram).

4. Consistency is key

Data mappings, data normalization and data cleaning result in consistency. Once data is standardized and clean, it can be easily used across a myriad of applications. Some common applications in healthcare include clinical data used for digital health apps and intake protocols for provider schedules. Applications are most effective when powered and empowered by accurate data, which translates to improved patient outcomes and significant cost savings for health systems. 

These four steps won’t solve all of the healthcare industry’s data issues. However, they can help you start to solve your own organization’s data issues. With standardized, clean data, you can make better business decisions across departments. Additionally, you can save significant time for reporting, and can better explain and back up the value that your organization brings its clients. By tidying up your own data, you are doing your part in making healthcare work better for all.

How to Improve the Curb Appeal of Your Practice

Curb Appeal.jpeg

You’ve likely heard of the term curb appeal. A widely used term in real estate, there’s even a television show on HGTV named after the phrase. Curb appeal is the general attractiveness of a house or other piece of property from the sidewalk to a prospective buyer. In other words, curb appeal is the impression a prospective buyer gets when viewing a property from a short distance.

Houses have curb appeal—why can’t healthcare practices?

Some might point out that not every healthcare practice or health system has a physical street curb or sidewalk parched directly in front. The reality is that prospective patients are  viewing practices constantly—though they are viewing with mobile devices, tablets and laptops. 

Real estate for healthcare practices: the digital front door

Healthcare practices have digital front doors. The digital front door is an online place where users can view, and enter, a health system or practice. Multiple sources already cite the importance of the digital front door. According to Modern Healthcare, “That digital front door is key to acquiring new patients and building the kind of brand awareness and loyalty that keeps them coming back.”

The term digital front door is slightly misleading because it implies one main opening or entrance to a practice. In reality, users are searching for care in a variety of places online. These places include search engines, maps, digital assistants and social media. Yext, a leading location data management company, has notably stated that a company’s website is not their digital front door. Health systems and practices therefore need to have multiple access points across digital channels to welcome prospective patients.

Extending the digital front door analogy

In the analogy of the digital front door, patients are already looking at the practice’s entrance and potentially choosing to enter. Digital curb appeal, then, is the overall attractiveness of the practice from a glance. These glances are online and can come from channels such as search engines, third party sites, display banners, maps and social media. Additionally, user experience and brand experience greatly affect the overall appeal of the practice in the eyes of prospective patients. This is the essence of digital curb appeal.

Why is digital curb appeal important?

Digital curb appeal is a fundamental part of any patient acquisition strategy. It encompasses visibility, access, user experience and more. Beyond a digital front door, which focuses on patient acquisition, curb appeal is developed using a mixture of user experience and branding. The results of strong digital curb appeal are increased brand awareness and a consistent flow of patients to your practice.

How to develop digital curb appeal

1. Drive traffic to your digital front door

Since the proliferation of digital media, there are a multitude of ways to efficiently drive traffic to your digital front door. These methods include search engine optimization, social media posting, paid search ads, display banners, video and native advertising. You should ideally employ search engine optimization, organic social media and at least one paid channel to deliver quality traffic to your digital front door.

2. Provide a consistent brand experience

Your users will most easily remember your practice if they have a consistent, memorable, positive brand experience. This can be achieved by ensuring that all brand visuals and messaging are consistent across digital touchpoints.

3. Differentiate with an innovative user experience

One way that your practice can stand out and “cut through the clutter” is with a differentiated user experience. There are two major ways to differentiate user experience: first, providing a seamless experience; and second, by providing a truly innovative experience. By enhancing your user experience with technologies including chatbots and digital assistants, you can transform user experience into a strategic differentiator.

Putting it all together: Digital Front Door + Branding + Differentiated User Experience = Curb Appeal

Building digital curb appeal is a broad initiative that involves an investment in branding and user experience as well as the development of a digital front door. With a great looking front door, a welcome mat, consistent style and curb appeal—prospective buyers will come knocking at your door.

What My Doctor Told Me About Online Scheduling

Online_Schedule_Button.jpeg

When I recently told my primary care physician that my company sells online appointment scheduling, he replied with “there are a lot of those companies...we get calls from them all the time”. While I was taken aback by his comment, he isn’t wrong—there is an increasing number of companies that offer online scheduling. Despite these many choices, there is a lack of information on the topic of online scheduling, especially through publicly available, digital channels. More importantly, there isn’t an abundance of companies that provide accurate online scheduling.

I elected against explaining these nuances to my physician, as he clearly didn’t have the time (which is a separate healthcare issue that you likely already know about). Instead, I nodded in agreement, and we moved forward with the consultation.

This quick exchange stuck with me after the appointment was over. Some things that I knew about the online scheduling market, including the fierce competition and constant outreach by “cookie-cutter” solutions, were all made much more real by experiencing it first-hand. For my physician, these realities translated to a lot of noise—which he and his staff classified as such.

Winning versus cookie-cutter solutions: accurate online scheduling

Accurate online scheduling is a winning proposition. However, a majority of online scheduling solutions today do not meet the accurate qualifier.

What is accurate online scheduling?

Accurate online scheduling is an online application that intelligently navigates patients to the right provider in the right setting at the right time. It replicates your rules, workflows and protocols. The result is a solution that works for patients, providers and health systems.

What are the key benefits of accurate online scheduling?

1. Improved care quality

According to Nitin Goyal, MD, who contributed to the Forbes article “What Healthcare Technology Will Do The Most To Improve Patient Care?”, online scheduling is listed as part of improving patient care. In this article, DocASAP is called out as a top example. Conceptually, by matching patients to the right provider, proper care is delivered which improves health outcomes.

2. Improved patient satisfaction and retention

Patients are beginning to expect online scheduling, and choose their providers based on the ability to book online. According to Accenture, 77%  of patients think that the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online is important. This functionality is and will continue to be used widely by patients. By the close of 2019, 64% of patients will book appointments digitally. Moreover, patients will increasingly switch providers for the ability to schedule appointments digitally—adding online scheduling to the increasingly long equation of patient satisfaction.

3. Increased new patient acquisition

New patients are acquired via streamlined patient access. By improving patient access, health systems, hospitals and practices create a digital front door through which patients can enter. Access drives acquisition which in turn drives growth—a goal for most leading health systems and hospitals.

4. Reduced overhead costs

A newly released article by Modern Healthcare describes why online scheduling drives down costs. According to the article, “Patients might call a clinic and make an appointment by talking to a digital assistant, they might type out their request to a chatbot online, or they might self-schedule through a patient portal. Each of these methods saves money by freeing up administrative staff time.”

Accurate online scheduling enhances these cost-saving effects by ensuring that front office and call center scheduling rules are replicated accurately. This results in an automation that works effectively and more efficiently.

Why does accurate online scheduling matter?

You may be wondering—what is the big deal about accurate online scheduling? Why does it matter whether a health system implements accurate online scheduling versus a cookie-cutter solution?

It’s simple: cookie-cutter solutions are ineffective. Without the ability to replicate rules, workflows and protocols, physician schedules become filled with suboptimal appointments. This situation leads to negative experiences both for patients and providers. Moreover, inaccurate scheduling leads to losses in revenue for the provider, which, when replicated across an entire health system, can cost millions of dollars in lost revenue over time.

Implementations of cookie-cutter solutions cost a significant amount of time and money. Additionally, physicians tend to become distrusting of online scheduling once they have had one bad experience. This distrust only adds more barriers and friction to solving a health system’s access challenges.

Accurate online scheduling helps health systems, hospitals and independent practices solve their access-related challenges. Cookie-cutter solutions, which are widely available, fail to address these issues.

While many providers, including my primary care physician, may never understand the difference between accurate online scheduling and cookie-cutter solutions, those that do can benefit greatly. It’s important to remember that not all solutions are created equal—and vendor selection can determine whether or not your practice or health system solves its access challenges.

Dead Ends and Green Lights: The Value of Intelligent Navigation

Dead_End.jpeg

Have you ever enjoyed seeing a “Dead End” sign while driving?

Not really?

Well, this is how a patient feels when they aren’t given alternative options while searching for a care provider. The solution for this is intelligent navigation, which steers patients to the optimal provider.

What is intelligent navigation?

Intelligent navigation is the utilization of algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence in conjunction with navigation applications like online appointment scheduling. For the navigation to be intelligent, alternative options must be presented to the patient to avoid the dreaded “dead end”.

For intelligent navigation to reach its potential, the goal, and measures of accuracy, need to be defined. This allows intelligent navigation to optimize toward a specific outcome. In the case of online appointment scheduling, we have to define who the “optimal provider” is for a patient.

So, who is the “optimal provider” for a patient?

We define the optimal provider as one who meets the following criteria:

  • Can treat the patient’s need based on stated medical requirements and visit reason

  • Has specific expertise and experience with the specific visit reason and sub-visit reason reported by the patient

  • Is in-network

  • Is geographically close to the patient

  • Has convenient availability based on the urgency of the patient’s needs

Notice that this definition of the optimal provider is one that meets more than the patient’s clinical needs. Beyond clinical needs, a patient’s needs include time and setting. For online scheduling, these needs translate to operational protocols. It is a mix of clinical and operational protocols that navigates patients to the right provider in the right setting at the right time. This seemingly small nuance is a key differentiator between intelligent navigation applications and cookie-cutter technologies.

What are the benefits of intelligent navigation?

Intelligent navigation is not jargon. The optimal provider, similarly, is more than a platitude. Intelligent navigation is the vehicle that steers patients to the right provider in the right setting at the right time.

The right provider means that the patient’s clinical needs are being met by an expert who is capable of providing excellent care. The right setting means that the care is being provided in the appropriate context. The right time means that the patient’s access to care is timely and as urgent as the need requires. The result is quality care, which translates to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs. For providers and health systems, initiatives that improve health outcomes and reduce costs merit consideration.

Patients deserve better than dead end signs when they are trying to find care. Better options, or “green lights”, already exist. Intelligent navigation is one of these green lights—steering patients not only to your providers, but to the optimal provider.

To learn more about intelligent navigation, visit our website.

Guest Blog: How to Prepare for Consumerism in Healthcare

Carrie Liken is the Head of Industry/GM - Healthcare at Yext, where she has visited with 230 health systems over the last year and a half. As a former Google employee and graduate of Harvard Kennedy School, Carrie provides deep knowledge of the health space and how technology impacts patient discovery and acquisition.

Yext_Blog.jpg

Consumerism. This term is not new in healthcare. However, in visiting with over 228 health systems in the last year and a half, I can say that health systems are grappling with this concept and not really succeeding. To start, I’m more frequently hearing health systems refer to patients as consumers. And, they should be, because the patient is — in fact — a consumer, and there are specific things health systems can do to prepare for this shift. A consumer is defined as someone who purchases a good or service for personal use. Given that patients are starting to own more of their healthcare decisions and are becoming more financially responsible for their healthcare, it is only natural to begin to think of the patient more as a consumer and less as a ‘patient.’

In January of 2018, we conducted a study charting the evolving patient journey and found that patients exhibit similar behaviors when searching for healthcare as they do when they search for products. Our study showed that over 76% of people search for providers (rather than physical locations) and one of the key decision-points in the provider selection journey has to do with where the provider is located. (Yext Study 2016 and 2018) A Think with Google study in retail showed that 66% of people look for the location of the closest store when identifying where to find a product.

In this case, the provider is the health system’s “product”. Consider how patients are consumers in other parts of their lives: When a consumer wants to purchase a kitchen towel, all she needs to do is consult Amazon, perform a search for a kitchen towel, click on the kitchen towel product and the Buy Now button, and voila! she has a kitchen towel within 2 hours to 2 days (assuming she has a Prime Now or an Amazon Prime account). This flawless execution of search to purchase to receipt is the norm for a consumer, and one that the consumer — when becoming a patient — is jarringly something she is not experiencing for her healthcare. Search to purchase to receipt is easy in every vertical (think restaurants, hotels, flights, products, etc.) except in healthcare.

It is not easy for a patient as a consumer to find the right provider for the right treatment at a convenient time that both matches the patient’s and the provider’s schedules. But, the patient as a consumer is trained to expect that this should be easy, because it is easy in every other vertical that touches a patient’s life.

So how can health systems prepare for Consumerism in healthcare and meet the patient’s expectations for her healthcare as a consumer? You can take three critical steps:

  1. Organize Your Provider Data. Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc., are building public knowledge graphs that can answer any question a person asks of them. Health systems need to be responsible for ensuring that their internal knowledge graphs are able to feed the public knowledge graphs with accurate, consistent information to ensure the right answers are provided when a patient asks. The only way to do this is to ensure that your provider data is cleaned up and structured in a way that these public knowledge graphs can consume. How do you do this? Determine where your data currently lives (and in how many places) and start to consider how to pull it all together into one single source of truth. Without a base layer of knowledge about your providers, it will become increasingly more difficult to succeed in marketing in the intelligent future.

  2. Activate Your Provider Data through Syndication. There has been a 32% decline in visits to health system websites in the last year. (Yext study, 2018) Currently, 83% of people are visiting other microsites and micro experiences without ever reaching a health system website to make an appointment. (Yext study, 2018) It is all the more important that your correct provider data is fully activated and syndicated on third party sites to ensure brand consistency and patient acquisition. Don’t leave the patient experience up to third party sites without taking full control of that experience. You, as the health system, need to own the experience on and off your website, now more than ever.

  3. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule. Patients are consumers. They have high expectations in healthcare and are frequently disappointed by the digital experience. If you haven’t started to activate Online Appointment Scheduling within your health system, you’re missing a huge opportunity to provide a positive patient experience as well as address patient expectations for their healthcare. How many of those patients will opt to find another provider who does provide online appointment scheduling? By cleaning up your provider data and activating it through third party channels, it’s now up to you to close the deal in the final mile of the patient journey. For those health systems I’ve spoken to who have activated online appointment scheduling, I’ve heard that the patient who books via online appointment scheduling is more likely to no-show at a much lower rate. That is literally revenue contributing to the bottom line of a health system!

Your consumers expect more of your health system — and it’s only going to get more complicated. By taking these above-mentioned steps, you will undoubtedly be setting yourself up for the future of intelligent search in healthcare.

Trust: The Key Component to Finding a Doctor

Female_Doctor_With_Patient2.jpg.jpeg

How can I trust a stranger, whom I have never met, with the most precious asset—my health?

In the past, when selecting a provider, trust was established primarily through word of mouth referrals in addition to baseline qualifications such as education, licenses, and experience. This information allowed people to make judgments on both a provider’s character as well as their competence.

While these mechanisms still apply, the increasingly digital, fast-paced and less personal 21st-century world has largely replaced word of mouth with modern technologies. These technologies include 5-star rating systems for doctors, and more recently, advertising platforms that require providers to pay money to show up on a provider search function. However, these technologies fail to match patients with the right provider - and thus do both patients and providers a disservice.

Doctors dislike 5-star rating systems because they are:

1. Skewed to negative ratings - one or two poor ratings based on a misunderstanding can ruin a provider’s patient flow.

2. Patients want “the best” - only providers with the highest ratings will take a majority of the patients when in reality there are many more competent doctors with better availability than those with highest ratings.

3. Higher star ratings do not reflect fit - care providers with five stars are often not the best fit for the patient’s specific needs. Star ratings inherently cause sub-optimal patient traffic to each doctor, creating a poor experience for both parties.

In a similar vein, sponsored provider search ads have appeared recently in an attempt to mimic the paid search engine experience available on leading search engines.

However, sponsored provider search ads create a pay-to-play system that:

1. Rewards providers who spend on advertising instead of the physicians that are the best fit for each patient

2. Profits off the patient’s lack of knowledge, and lack of trust, about who their best provider should be

3. Treats providers and patients as commodities and not as humans looking to provide and receive care

Additionally, these technologies do not align with a provider’s or health system’s objectives. In a world where health systems need to drive triple aim to be successful, and volume-based care has been replaced with value-based care, quality, accuracy, and humanity need to be prioritized over volume, inaccuracy, and commodification.

DocASAP: Using Technology to Restore Trust in the Physician-Patient Relationship

Fortunately, there are technologies today that guide patients to the correct provider while aligning to the needs of providers and health systems. The most notable of these technologies is intelligent online appointment scheduling. Intelligent online appointment scheduling has many facets, all of which are central to its ability to meet the needs of patients, providers, and health systems.

The components of intelligent online appointment scheduling include:

1. Matches patients with the right providers in the right setting at the right time

2. Increases patient access to care through omni-channel pathways

3. Replicates the health system’s workflows, rules and protocols

4. Gives the provider 100% control over their schedules
 

The best care can be provided by matching patients to the optimal provider based on the patient’s needs. More importantly, in this model, providers and patients are treated as humans instead of commodities. Accurate clinical protocols ensures that patient needs are awarded the consideration they deserve, while accurate operational protocols drive patients to the right provider. Lastly, because DocASAP focuses on retaining patients within a health system, increased retention leads to longer-lasting relationships between the providers and patients.

To summarize, the physician-patient relationship can still be built on trust, even in today’s digital world. To achieve this, however, healthcare technologies must meet the needs of all parties and treat them as humans, not commodities.

How to Reduce Waste in Your Health System by Tackling No-shows

AdobeStock_165324631_Phone_Message.jpg

You’ve seen it time and time again—the patient schedules an appointment, your provider waits for them a few minutes past the appointment start time, the patient doesn’t show up at all. No text, no call. It isn’t just a poor experience for the doctor involved — it’s hurting the health system’s bottom line.

It’s no secret that hospitals and health systems across the nation are having issues with profitability. A large part of this equation has to do with keeping costs down. While you can’t just choose not to invest in your infrastructure, technology, or your people — something you can control is the money lost by no-show appointments. These no-show appointments are a colossal waste that lurks in your scheduling process and is estimated to cause the healthcare industry an estimated $150billion in losses each year.

What is a no-show appointment?

A no-show appointment is an appointment that a patient 1) makes with a provider; 2) fails to arrive at; 3) does not cancel before the time of the appointment. These are different than cancellations. In a cancellation, the patient reaches out to the provider before the appointment, giving the provider sufficient time to fill the slot with another patient.

Why are no-shows so wasteful?

With cancellations, there is an opportunity to schedule another patient in the canceled time slot. Usually, the window that you have to fill these canceled appointments will be as short as 24 hours but can be as long as three weeks. We call this the replacement window because this is the amount of time that you have to replace the canceled appointment with a new patient. In a no-show, the replacement window is zero, which is why you cannot get your money back. These no-shows translate to lost revenues which hurt your health system’s bottom line. By allowing your health system to continue this wasteful process systematically, you are undermining its profitability.

What tools exist for reducing these wasteful no-show appointments?

Fortunately, there are a few different approaches and tools at your disposal for tackling no-show appointments. The first approach is the old-fashioned punish and reward system. It goes like this: financially punishing no-shows while rewarding (either through a small discount on their bill or another incentive like a sweepstakes drawing) patients who show up on time. However, this carrot-and-stick method isn’t enough to move the needle by itself. While you may limit the return of no-show patients, you aren’t increasing the replacement window or maximizing patient volume.

Thankfully there are technologies already on the market that are designed to reduce no-show appointments and maximize your replacement window. The most effective of these are digital, multi-channel appointment notifications. To appeal to a broader range of patient demographics, we recommend offering reminders via several media, including text message, email, and phone calls. To maximize the effectiveness of reminder notifications, they should include appointment confirmations with options to cancel or reschedule. Additionally, these notifications should have appointment reminders within 24 hours of the appointment start time, and any other information pertinent to the appointment. Examples include directions to the appointment location and appointment preparation procedures.

For additional engagement, some solutions like DocASAP’s Consumer Connect include a calendar appointment that can be saved to the patient’s schedule. Consumer Connect provides a mobile-first, patient-centric solution that helps not only with patient engagement, but also reduces no-show appointments. On average, DocASAP’s Consumer Connect solution, which includes DocASAP Reminders, cuts down the no-show rate by over 35% in the first year after deployment.

How online appointment scheduling maximizes the replacement window

If appointment reminders are a powerful way of reducing no-show appointments, then online appointment scheduling is its significant other, maximizing access which optimizes the replacement window. Think of it this way: you are now reducing your no-show appointments, but still have some patients who elect to cancel or reschedule. Online appointment scheduling, proven to expand patient access, increases the chance that another patient will be able to fill your empty timeslot. By expanding patient access, you can increase the likelihood that you fill empty slots in your provider’s schedule. This maximizes patient volume, which translates to money in the bank. Appointment reminders can truly work in tandem with online appointment scheduling to improve your health system’s bottom line.

To summarize, if you want an impactful reduction in no-show appointments, you need to use an appointment notification service that includes multiple notification types and mediums. To make further improvements, you need to maximize your replacement window by implementing intelligent online scheduling. Marrying reminders with online scheduling is one of the most impactful ways to start reducing waste in your health system — ASAP.

One Fierce CEO: The Origin Story of DocASAP

Fierce CEO thumbnail V2 3.28.18.png

A frightening scenario for any parent: your child is in pain from an ear infection. You search for a doctor, but can’t find anyone local who can see and treat your child within the next few weeks. Your child needs care now, but you just can’t find the right provider. The search drags on, causing your family much anxiety and your child much pain.

In 2009, this was the scenario in which Puneet Maheshwari found himself.

“I realized there was an opportunity to simplify access in our healthcare system,” said Maheshwari.

Maheshwari, a Wharton MBA graduate, developed DocASAP while working full time in Silicon Valley. His background in software development and technology gave him the expertise to create a successful healthcare tech startup. Seed funding and a successful Series A round helped propel DocASAP to the top of its class, quickly gaining ground on larger rivals such as Zocdoc.

There’s no stopping DocASAP now. Not only does DocASAP provide real-time doctor availability information via common online channels such as Google and healthcare insurer websites, but it also allows patients to search only for providers that accept their insurance, and filter providers based on location, health specialties and more.

Instead of calling each provider to gather information, patients simply enter their needs, select an intelligently-matched provider near them and click to schedule an appointment. Email and SMS messages handle the appointment confirmation, cancellations and rescheduling. Mobile messaging is also used to help patients prepare for and understand what to expect at their appointment.

Since the system works so well (in many cases boosting appointment volume by 10 percent or more), many providers use DocASAP instead of the rudimentary online appointment schedulers provided by some EHR systems.

Despite this success, Maheshwari remains humble about the performance of the business and passes much of the credit on to his team.

“It’s all about the team,” said Maheshwari. “But, surrounding yourself with the right team is easier said than done. At DocASAP, we hire for attitude and aptitude. Maintaining an honest and down-to-earth culture has allowed us to bring together some of the smartest minds in the business.”