Many providers are rushing to adopt mobile patient outreach tools, and who can blame them: These solutions promise to streamline processes, reduce administrative staff workloads, and minimize appointment no-shows.
However, there is one big catch: When implemented as one-offs, these point solutions have a glaring downside: Many of these point solutions lack integration with back-end systems, creating a whole new problem for providers.
For example, a patient named Carol receives two reminders over the course of a month: “It is time to schedule an appointment for your physical with Dr. Brown. Please call the office.”
So far, so good. However, there is just one problem: Carol scheduled her annual physical six months ago. However, the text reminder system was not fully integrated with the scheduling system, so it does not “know” the appointment was already on the books. Rather than seeing the reminder as helpful, Carol greets it as either an annoyance to be disregarded – or one that prompts her to phone the doctor’s office to confirm her original appointment and make sure there are no scheduling snafus.
This fragmented approach does not just create new inefficiencies – it defeats the whole purpose of patient engagement in the first place: to create a more positive and consistent patient experience. If mistakes and annoyances like these add up over time, it could erode satisfaction levels enough for the patient to change providers – or, at least, negatively affect the patient’s reported satisfaction levels on surveys.
Like many providers, our managed service organization had implemented various point solutions to address our needs over the years. We had not set out originally to adopt a fragmented approach to patient engagement; in each case, we were just trying to solve a problem. However, over time, we ended up with separate vendors for appointment reminders, patient engagement, collections, and portal solutions, and so on.