Supercharging Consumer Access to Care

Simple. Seamless. Convenient. Cost-efficient. All words that tie naturally to what people have come to expect out of virtually every digital consumer experience.

All words that now tie to what all forward-thinking healthcare organizations are creating with their own digital front doors – enabling consumer ease and delight in every step from online search to appointment scheduling and beyond.

Three health system leaders took the stage at our recent AVIA Network Summit to offer insight into their efforts to build digital front doors for their organizations and supercharge consumer access to care. Discussion themes touched on the need to balance data and stories to catalyze change, as well as barriers to action and pathways to success.

Moderated by Jason Lineen, AVIA’s Senior Vice President of Advisory Services, the panel included:

● Kari Beam, Vice President, Customer Relationship Management, Bon Secours Mercy Health
● Katie Logan, Vice President, Experience, Piedmont Healthcare
● Russell Rein, Vice President, Ambulatory Services & Practice Management, University of Kansas Health System (UKHS)

Key takeaways from their conversation follow.

Consumers Don’t Grade on a Curve; Health Systems Need to Move Closer to the Pace of Digital Change

Kari Beam, Bon Secours Mercy Health: The piece that I see as our biggest challenge right now, and we’re extremely focused on cracking this nut, is speed in general. The pace at which the digital environment is evolving and the pace at which the healthcare industry moves, do not match up. And so by the time that many health systems get their ideas implemented, they’re outdated.

We’re working on making decisions faster as an organization, fund projects faster, and reinventing how we work with other teams, like legal and security … so that we can move quickly and continue to evolve.

Combine Data and Stories to Catalyze Change

Kari Beam: To create the necessary level of urgency for change in our organization, the team did a great job of getting buy-in at the executive leadership level. I’ve seen two things that drove that. Some people learn and respond to data, while others learn and respond to stories, and I saw those coupled together quite well to make it work.

We have data that clearly show opportunities for growth, in areas like Net Promoter scores or patient experience scores. We have targets that include the number of patients who call into our central scheduling system who end their call with an appointment … or the percent of callers who report satisfaction with calls into our clinics. If those numbers aren’t where they need to be, that speaks volumes to the team and drives the case for change.

Russell Rein, UKHS: UKHS has a group practice — the physician practice — with over a thousand physicians. Up until three years ago, that group practice was 22 independent group practices of physicians: the ED, the GI, cardiac surgery, etc.

There was an opportunity to provide consistent operating procedures and patient experience across these practices. The best way to get attention from the board and our staff about the need for digital change, was to just literally record the voice of the patient trying to make an appointment and trying to navigate our system.

When we played them some of those snippets and brought out the stories, our leadership—all the department chairs and the executive leadership—understood immediately where we want to be and how quickly we needed to move to get there.

Fight Organizational Complexity with Focus and Strategy

Katie Logan, Piedmont Healthcare: Something my team and I are trying to move toward more is investment in a portfolio of work versus a project by project basis. The challenge we’re trying to solve is familiar to all innovation leaders: We have this vision and we have this set of programs that we want to deploy and have commitment to address … but each step of the way, we start the vendor contracting and relationship diligence and security review and budgeting all over again. To move a portfolio forward with speed, we have to start treating it as a full portfolio through all our internal processes.

Russell Rein: I like to use the phrase, “If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.” …You’re chasing a lot of things, yet we’ve got to finish what we’re started, this is important for the patient experience. We need our patients to see and feel smooth handoffs and put in place an infrastructure to support our employee’s daily needs.

One significant part of addressing that is in our work with AVIA’s Advisory Services team, which we’ve partnered with to develop and secure funding to execute a multi-year digital roadmap that will transform patient access and experience across all UKHS interactions.

Consumers Aren’t the Only End Users — Physicians Must Buy In, Too

Jason Lineen, AVIA: In one organization that AVIA has worked with – a primary care-dominated multispecialty medical group – 75% to 80% of their patient base is actively using the patient portal on a monthly basis. Why? It’s because every clinician in the group tells their patients, “Book your next appointment through the portal. Don’t call me about the lab results, go to the portal.” That’s what drives adoption – clinicians embracing the new, digital communication channels. It’s been proven in study after study. You get exponentially better adoption of your portal if the clinician just says in 30 seconds or less, “Don’t call my office. Use the portal”

Kari Beam: I think physician scheduling and capacity, and optimizing that accessibility is a challenge. But I do believe that we have a solid plan to partner with our physician champions and allow the physicians to maintain control of their schedule, while providing that accessibility for our patients.

Katie Logan: Depending on how you look at it, change management is the most significant barrier or opportunity. Today, we’re just over 600 providers live with online scheduling. And in turning on online scheduling for all of them, we’ve had to think through how templates are structured provider by provider, practice by practice What are those preferences that each location is managing around? How do we mitigate that fear of the wrong patient getting in the wrong slot? So we just keep iterating, working through those pieces and proving that it works. And the data bears that out: 30% of new patients are booking outside of normal office hours, when a phone call isn’t even an option.

On Results: Increased Patient Satisfaction and Engagement

Katie Logan, Piedmont: With Press Ganey, we started looking at ease of access as a metric to validate if this is really meeting the mark for patient satisfaction. And patients who book online rate us an average of 7.2 points higher than those who booked through other traditional modes, via phone or at the office. So it’s really proving to be a satisfaction opportunity.

I’ll mention the build out of MyChart, we now see about half of our online booking is happening through MyChart. And that’s been really powerful because it’s a good experience. It’s almost a better experience for existing patients because we know who you are, we know who your provider is, it’s a couple of clicks. You don’t have to fill out any forms.

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