Digital care coordination is the application of smart technology to improve the appointment-making experience for healthcare patients and providers, and there is no question that every practice will someday embrace it. The myriad of short- and long-term benefits of the technology, as described below, far outweigh any growing pains and start-up costs.
While the healthcare industry has always been slow to adopt digitization (According to 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report on digital progress, healthcare ranks at 19th of 22 industries surveyed), we’ve seen some significant markers of improvement in recent years. More and more healthcare providers are upgrading and enhancing their processes through use of digital care coordination, and it’s easy to see why.
What is Digital Care Coordination?
Digital care coordination is a collection of technological tools and solutions that facilitate fast and easy patient appointment bookings, streamline the patient referral process, strengthen health systems’ provider networks and drive both new patient acquisition and existing patient retention. Put simply – digital care coordination gets patients the care they need, quickly and easily.
What are the Provider Benefits?
The provider benefits of digital care coordination include:
- Time Savings – Staffers spend less time on the phone scheduling appointments as patients self-book
- Cost Savings – Fewer hours on the phone means fewer dollars spent on staffing and scheduling
- Patient Follow-Through – Automated reminders help keep patients coming in on-time and reduces no-shows
- Closing Gaps – Digitization improves outreach and helps close gaps in care
- Customization – Providers have better control of their individual calendars
- Patient Satisfaction/Retention – Easy self-scheduling reduces wait times and keeps patients coming back
What are the Patient Benefits?
The patient benefits of digital care coordination include the ease and convenience of self-scheduling, self-rescheduling and self-cancellation, the power of choice and control over the booking and referral process, the ability to utilize the digital technology many patients prefer, enhanced privacy and improved health outcomes.
How Does Digital Care Coordination Improve the Referral Process?
Digital care coordination isn’t just about self-scheduling appointments with consumer friendly interfaces. It also includes a highly effective system for referral coordination. Following a patient’s discharge or office visit, referrals to primary care physicians and specialists can be an arduous process. It’s common for patients to plan to make these referral appointments at a later time, then fail to follow through. With digital care coordination in place, that doesn’t happen. Instead, patients are booked with their referral appointments through the digital system immediately. They walk out of the office with an appointment that fits their schedule and preferences, already in hand. When this process is in place, the rate of follow-through and patient retention is exponentially higher.
How Does Digital Care Coordination Improve Call Center Activities?
In order to close more gaps in care, many healthcare organizations are using proactive call center strategies. An example would be a health plan using population health tools to identify their members with gaps in care – and then systematically calling them to get them booked and close the gaps in care. It’s a noble strategy, but it often falls apart when it comes to booking the appointment, because a three-way call must be initiated or the patient is left to their own devices to book the appointment later. Digital care coordination solves this problem and completes the last mile of this outreach effort by enabling the call center agent to book an appointment directly into a provider’s calendar digitally in real-time with no three-way call. To further enhance outreach efforts, patients/members can also be allowed to book via IVR and Text through automated outreach that is tied directly to our core scheduling platform. This technology is a no-brainer for call centers trying to close more gaps in care.
How Can Digital Care Coordination Automate Patient Engagement?
Another foundational use of digital care coordination is to automate patient engagement. Many provider groups and payers want to connect with their patients in ways that don’t require additional headcount. MyHealthDirect’s technology has been used to enhance outreach email campaigns with real-time online scheduling. Using the same population health example as before, an email blast can be sent to patients or members with gaps in care with the ability to click a “Schedule Now” button. After clicking the button, they are brought to an online scheduling interface where they can book with the right provider at the time that works best for them. Moreover, the providers availability can be controlled to offer only the inventory the provider wants to be made available – allowing them to maintain ultimate control over their calendars. It’s a true win-win.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Patients are consumers of healthcare, and they want the same ease, convenience and flexibility in their health services that they enjoy in every other aspect of their lives. We are confident that in the years to come, all providers will be on the digital care coordination bandwagon. Why not lead the way and create more value today?
If you're interested in learning more, please contact us to set up a demo to see how digital care coordination can help your organization or download this guide on one of our core differentiators - our ability to automate business rules in the scheduling solution.