How Digital, Front-Door Technologies Change the Way Patients Access Care While Helping Hospitals Regain their Financial Footing

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By Brian Gresh

Leaders at one of the most advanced health systems in the world recognized one critical, but often overlooked, factor that affects their ability to convert patients: the online experience. They decided they needed to make it easier for the 600,000 unique patients they typically see in a given year to schedule and access care, especially in the wake of COVID-19. As a result, the health system has seen a 148% increase year-over-year in the number of appointments scheduled online or using the unique phone number provided by Guide, Loyal’s healthcare chatbot.

How is it that this health system is scheduling appointments in a time when most are struggling to re-engage their patient base? The answer is simple: they doubled down on their commitment to make accessing care easy. By setting themselves up to communicate effectively with patients, who send stronger signals each day that their preferred method of engagement is via smartphone and other online platforms, they’ve managed to capitalize on consumers’ expectations for health systems to meet them where they are. This shows us that how well operations and IT leaders come together in the coming weeks to meet this need could play a significant role in determining how effectively their hospitals can regain their financial footing. 

While online scheduling wasn’t new for this leading health system, the web page based online scheduling form only converts approximately 24% of patients. Loyal helped the system adapt the form, which includes a designated number for appointment scheduling at the call center, and embed it directly into Guide, Loyal’s healthcare chatbot. In contrast, the chatbot form conversion rate is 33% and continues to climb. Overall, the chatbot scheduling form accounts for 36% of all conversions. The next evolution of this will come soon as we embed the chatbot directly into the patient portal for our clients, allowing for a more personalized and on-demand experience that consumers crave while keeping communications HIPAA compliant and secure. And what better way is there to foster brand loyalty than to give consumers what they want?

Recent events have necessitated a careful reevaluation of daily operations and opportunities to realize efficiencies to keep businesses afloat. For hospital leaders, this task includes taking a closer look at the online experience’s role in converting and retaining patients – and doing so in a way that doesn’t interfere with the organization’s existing tech stack. Understandably, your hospital’s IT leaders are nervous about adding layers of technology and will be looking to you to bring forward solutions that do not add to the operational workflow. As you evaluate ways to improve your patients’ online experience and, by extension, expand your organization’s footprint, you’ll want to choose a platform that will not compromise the existing set of technologies already in place. The right solution also should reduce the burden on IT, call center, customer service and front-office teams to allow for more revenue-driving appointments to be scheduled.

With the American Hospital Association estimating hospitals in the U.S. are now losing $50 billion each month, the time for operations and IT leaders to act on improving the online patient experience is now for the betterment of their hospital or health system’s bottom line. Together, they can bring about meaningful change for health systems in these challenging times that not only benefit the patients, but have the potential to impact the system’s viability in the wake of COVID-19. 

Brian Gresh is President of Loyal.A healthcare consumer experience company solely dedicated to the betterment of patient care, Loyal is the preferred software solution for improved care utilization among the nation’s leading health systems and hospitals. One of the first companies to offer end-to-end digital and AI-powered solutions spanning the entirety of the patient journey, Loyal makes it easier for patients to access and schedule care they need. From selecting a provider best suited for them to closing the feedback loop on their experience, patients who engage with healthcare networks via our proprietary platform quite simply, tend to be more loyal. Learn how to streamline patients’ navigation of your health system and network of clinical services at LoyalHealth.com.   

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