Top use cases for leveraging technology to improve outcomes, save time, and reduce costs
In part 1 of this blog, I outlined how patient leakage can be prevented by balancing in-person visits with technology-enabled care delivery models, such as virtual visits and asynchronous (text-based) interactions. In this installment, I’ll provide some specifics on how today’s technology is being leveraged to enhance traditional care processes to ensure better patient experiences and outcomes.
Built-in symptom assessment supports triage, care navigation
You’ll recall that in part 1, I somewhat bemoaned the term “digital front door.” It’s a cool concept—don’t get me wrong. But in 2022, it still has a long way to go to reach its full potential.
Compared to other industries, healthcare is way behind the curve on this one.
Take symptom checker applications, for example. When integrated into a virtual care solution, they have been shown to optimize care navigation, reduce provider burden, and optimize patient outcomes. This technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) based on input and validation from medical professionals and thousands of evidence-based practices to perform a preliminary symptom assessment of patients and generate a recommended triage level.
In much the same way that Amazon and Netflix personalize their consumers’ experiences, the ability to assess a patient’s condition ahead of a visit allows providers to offer more personalized health services. The technologies involved can include digital care and triage options such as asynchronous (text-based) interactions, live chats, and video visits for non-urgent cases.
These up-front interactions enable providers to quickly assess more serious conditions and route patients to appropriate in-person care settings such as an urgent care center, primary care facility, or the emergency department when appropriate. Symptom assessment technology can also help expedite prescription refills or mental health support that must be provided on the same day.
EHR integration saves time and money
When integrated with electronic health records (EHRs), a virtual symptom checker also allows providers to quickly refer to a patient’s health data to improve preparation and enhance the patient interaction. Placing this data at the provider’s fingertips also helps to support diagnoses and decision making while reducing unnecessary repeat testing. All these advantages contribute to patient satisfaction and reduced leakage.
When coupled with your preferred EHR, a symptom checker not only supports faster, more appropriate treatment and care, it can also be instrumental in avoiding unnecessary healthcare costs and reducing the burden on care teams. Studies have shown that assessing patient symptoms and providing multiple options for care based on acuity significantly helps patients make more informed decisions that are best for them or their loved ones.
For example, an Infermedica study found that 20% of patients who required medical consultation qualified to use telemedicine instead of an in-person visit. Among patients who had intended to go to the ED prior to using a symptom checker, 12.8% decided to consult with a physician first and 5.1% stayed at home after using the tool. Among those who intended to seek medical consultation, 7% stayed at home and administered self-care as advised by the symptom checker, helping patients safely avoid unnecessary trips to the ED.
4 use cases for technology-enabled downstream patient engagement
Beyond improving triage and serving as an alternate—and often preferred—vehicle for delivering care, today’s digital landscape can be leveraged to positively impact the patient journey. Here I’d like to expand on some ideas introduced in last week’s blog post and my recent Healthcare Business Today article about using technology to improve patient outcomes and satisfaction throughout the care continuum:
- Patient intervention and outreach: AI and machine learning (ML) technologies can assess patient medical histories and abnormalities with existing care plans to identify care gaps. Patient intervention and outreach to close these gaps can then be initiated via a variety of communication methods, including reminder emails, SMS (text) messages, or provider-initiated phone calls based on patient preferences.
- Referral management: Integration of voice, email, and SMS tools with EHRs can help providers automate referral outreach and scheduling to promote continuity of care. And, these approaches can significantly impact patient loyalty and reduce leakage.
- Post-acute care coordination: Today’s AI- and ML-enabled technology can also be instrumental in coordinating post-discharge and in-home care. These tools can be used to identify appropriate care providers based on specialty and capacity, initiate and accelerate referrals, establish appointments, and determine optimal mediums for care delivery.
- Surgical follow-up: Telehealth can be leveraged as a quick and effective surgical follow-up option for patients who prefer to avoid subsequent visits to a healthcare facility for post-surgical assessment.
These examples just scratch the surface of how digital technology can be applied to support and enhance traditional care methodologies. The key to preventing patient leakage is to develop and implement a long-term strategy for technology-enabled care. To be effective, providers must look beyond the digital front door and implement a balanced solution that helps patients and care teams easily interact with the healthcare system on their terms, regardless of channel.
Find out how the eVisit care delivery platform can help you prevent patient leakage by facilitating the modalities of care your patients prefer. Request a consultation.