Healthcare providers often see patients at their most vulnerable, when something has happened to their bodies that they don’t understand. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that the majority of patients wish they had greater control in managing their care.
For many patients, increased agency in navigating their healthcare comes through digital interactions. More than 75 percent of patients want to book their own appointments, according to a recent survey, and almost 80 percent of patients want to pay clinicians online. This desire to have ownership over one’s care also extends to information. For example, 92 percent of patients would like to know how much they will owe prior to a clinician visit. Yet only 9 percent of those surveyed used an online portal to set up an appointment with their doctor, and only 20 percent made healthcare payments online.
This lack of technological savvy on the part of providers may have increasingly serious consequences: according to a recent Harris poll, nearly 60 percent of millennials and 64 percent of Gen Xers would switch providers to be able to make physician appointments online. Using a dynamic scheduling platform to allow patients to book their own appointments is just one example of how technology can addresses patient concerns and benefit providers.
“Patient and self-schedule through that widget accomplishes two things,” said Formativ Health’s chief technology officer David Harvey. “It satisfies the patient [in that] maybe that’s the way in which the patient wants to interact with that health system. But it also avoids a call into our contact center, deselecting work away from our agents.”
Northwell Health is one provider determined to not only meet patient requests, but to exceed them. As they work with Formativ Health to redesign their digital capabilities, Northwell is also giving patients the ability to review previous appointments and stay up to date on their medical information. They can easily access lab reports and medical records, as well as see which providers they previously met with—a feature that has been very well received.
“If you’re someone who only goes to the doctor every two or three years, which is a lot of Americans, you may not even remember who your primary care doctor was,” said Northwell’s VP of digital patient experience, Laura Semlies. “Having the ability to just go in and see the inventory of doctors, and scroll through your past appointments to find that physician, is actually rising up there as one of the things that patients are finding most interesting.”
Ultimately, giving patients the ability to book appointments online or review their medical history isn’t just a question of logistics. Employing a digital strategy that helps patients take ownership over their care can strength the relationship between patient and provider, making for a lifelong partnership.
For more information about best practices for communicating with patients and fostering patient loyalty, read our white pages “Building the Digital Front Door.”