Anyone who has been around for a while will remember how different healthcare was just 20 years ago. Go back 40 or 50 years and it would be unrecognizable. Those were the days when most people saw a family physician for everything. Specialists worked at the local or regional hospital. You only went there when it was really serious. Billing was simpler. There were no EHRs.
That is a very different picture than the healthcare of today. We know more and can diagnose and treat more conditions than ever before. As a result, healthcare has expanded with everything from independent practices to large group and multi-specialty practices and networks of physician groups in addition to large hospitals and health systems. The trend is towards consolidation. A new report from the American Medical Association showed that employed physicians outnumber independent for the first time.
This trend has had a big impact on patient experience. Back in the day, patients had a very personal relationship with their doctor and his or her staff, who were likely part of their community. That’s rare today. Changes to reimbursement and organizational structure mean that people often don’t see the same person. Even in smaller practices, there may be a Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner as well as the primary physicians. There may be several front desk people or nurses. You might not see the same doctor, nurse, assistant, or front desk person twice in a row. It’s part of why larger healthcare organizations have higher no-show rates and may be less preferred by patients.
It’s also why patient relationship management (PRM) is playing a growing role in healthcare. From patient communication to education and reviews, PRM can help automate to save time while also helping to personalize and customize to improve the patient’s experience. PRM has been around for just about 20 years. So, what has the impact been as PRM vendors look to help improve the experience in an ever-more complex healthcare system?
A new report, the State of PRM, sought to answer that question. More than 700 providers and practice staff across several specialties were surveyed. Their responses showed some clear trends—Three main priorities for PRM stood out:
· Improve patient communication
· Reduce no-shows
· Save staff time
At the same time, the majority of practices had the same two concerns about implementing PRM technology—lack of time and lack of budget.
The data shows that PRM has been able to effectively help practices meet their goals while also addressing their concerns. The key insights from the report include:
· Better communication. 83 percent of those using PRM technology said they can communicate better with patients.
· Increased engagement. 62 percent said that patients were more engaged when PRM was used.
· Decreased no-shows. 81 percent had a no-show rate of 10 percent or less and 41 percent had a no-show rate under five percent.
· Added revenue. 83 percent use automated recall and 55 percent of those said it generates $5,000 or more in revenue each month, with 14 percent saying it adds over $20,000 a month.
· Reduced phone time. 76 percent said they spend less than two hours a day on the phone and 33 percent spend less than one hour.
· Less time spent on reminders. 76 percent say they spend less than one hour on reminder tasks each day and 68 percent said they spend less than one hour on recall tasks per day.
This is in contrast to practices that said they had no PRM technology in place. Those practices were more likely to have a no-show rate over 10 percent and to have staff spending more than two hours on the phone. In addition, they were far less likely to have a recall program in place, with 39 percent saying they conducted no recall of any kind.
All healthcare organizations face challenges around time and budget when it comes to patient engagement. However, those using PRM technology are able to mitigate that by meeting their PRM goals, including:
· Reducing no-shows
· Increasing recall revenue
· Decreasing time spent on the phone
For organizations or networks trying to create a better experience for patients while watching the bottom line, PRM may be one solution.
Jim Higgins is the founder and CEO of Solutionreach.