Uncovering where your healthcare practice is failing to serve its patients can seem like an intimidating task. One place to start is with the patient journey.
By examining each step of the patient journey, you can better assess and understand potential pain points within their visit. This allows for specific and big-picture improvements that can make all the difference.
What is the patient journey?
The patient journey refers to the path patients take as they receive healthcare services. It includes all of the interactions, procedures, and treatments a patient undergoes from the time they first seek medical care until their treatment is complete — from searching for the right provider to deciding whether to return.
In the modern era, it encompasses digital search, appointment booking, communications between the patient and provider leading up to the appointment, intake, billing and payments, and post-appointment feedback.
Why is the patient journey important in healthcare?
The patient journey is an opportunity for patients to feel deeply known, connected, and cared for by their care team, noted Tebra VP of Product Management Liz Fobare at Kareo Live.
It’s also an opportunity to remove barriers to care, get more patients through the door (whether physical or digital), and free up providers’ time to better focus on those patients, resulting in more billable hours and greater well-being for both patients and providers.
How do you create a patient journey?
To start to examine ways to improve your patient journey, break down your existing approach by answering the following questions:
— How do patients find you?
— Once they find you, how do patients weigh your reputation and learn about your practice and offerings?
— If you have existing ratings and reviews online, how do they reflect on your practice?
— How can patients get in touch with your practice to schedule an appointment?
— Do patients receive appointment reminders? If so, over what medium(s)?
— How do you conduct patient intake?
— Before the appointment, how do you conduct patient check in?
— How easy is it to complete clinical documentation, order labs, and write prescriptions during the appointment?
— How do you manage billing? How do you manage payments and payment and balance reminders?
— How do you collect post-appointment feedback, surveys, or statements from patients? How do you share patient feedback to build your practice’s reputation?
How do you improve the patient journey?
Since the patient journey consists of a series of interlocking parts, to fix a broken patient journey, it’s important to identify each step and explore the challenges and growth opportunities they present.
At the start of the modern patient journey, patients search for services online, but most practices have websites that don’t appear in Google search results. To reach more patients, focus on SEO, paid search advertising, and optimizing your website.
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As they decide on a provider, patients read reviews online, browse your website, and view listings. Most practices have a poor online reputation, outdated website, and very few web profiles.
According to Tebra research, 75% of patients find online reviews important when choosing a healthcare provider. It’s essential to gather positive reviews from patients when they are most likely to give them, make it easy for dissatisfied patients to give private feedback, and respond promptly to both.
After making a decision, patients try to contact the office and prefer multiple channels to communicate. To capture more prospects and have better communication on both sides, implement missed-call-to-text, two-way text, and web-to-text.
Patients want to make an appointment, but only some practices offer a mobile-optimized experience. Three out of 4 patients prefer to book appointments online, so provide online scheduling with a responsive layout on your website and your web profiles to make it easier.
As the appointment approaches, patients rarely receive automated alerts to remind them of their appointments. Implement automated text message reminders to reduce no-shows by an average of 25%.
During the visit, patient intake, check in, and collecting patient payments are not a smooth experience. Streamline by offering digital intake forms in advance and in office, and have patients enter their own payment information to reduce errors.
The workflow needs to be more streamlined, and providers often use multiple systems for clinical documentation, lab orders, eRx, and billing. Instead, implement a secure, cloud-based solution that integrates these functions. =
After the visit, practices often don’t send automated post-appointment surveys or statements to collect patient feedback or payments proactively. In fact, 93% of providers rely on manual and paper-based transactions to collect. Automated post-visit surveys improve reputation management, while automated patient billing can save practices 6 hours a week on collection calls.
Patients often miss payments. Practices aren’t able to monitor accounts receivable and miss out on revenue. To solve this problem, text, email, and mail statements and balance reminders that encourage patients to pay their balances digitally, and track delivery.
Key takeaway: Seek an all-in-one patient journey solution
Knowing how patients experience your healthcare practice is essential in creating a more positive journey for them. By analyzing the patient’s arc, you can better assess and understand potential pain points within their visit.
But examining each step of a broken patient journey shouldn’t mean pursuing a different solution for each step. To do so can mean juggling 5 to 7 vendors, a task many providers simply don’t have time for. It can also be costly to build a comprehensive solution from pieces that don’t work together, or from horizontal solutions that don’t meet medical providers’ unique needs.
“Piecemeal solutions lack system-wide tracking and analytics to measure, report, and optimize ROI,” said Tebra VP of Product Management and Strategy Nareen Sarabu.
Bit-by-bit solutions can also mean a bit-by-bit return on investment. Instead, seek a complete medical solution to address as many steps of the patient journey as possible.