The True Meaning of Omni-Channel Access
October 10, 2019
Access should not be a barrier to patient care, but unfortunately for many, it is. Despite advancements in consumer-facing technology, many healthcare organizations still only offer their patients a single way to schedule or book an appointment with a provider, and it’s usually by phone. In addition to care delays, this creates a poor experience for both patients and provider staff. If patient access is truly a priority for your organization, it shouldn’t be limited just to a phone call. True omni-channel access, which gives patients multiple opportunities and touch points to schedule care, should be top-of-mind. It can only be met when leveraging an array of different access points: the call center, online self-scheduling, and automated outreach.
- Starting with the Call Center
The quick fix to improving call center operations is to move from a manual to a digital process, notably with a digital care coordination platform. This allows agents to see all available appointments for providers and specialists in real-time, making it easy to identify the right doctor and appointment for a patient’s specific care need and then book that appointment on the spot. The time saved allows healthcare organizations to book more appointments over the phone per day and the patient experience is dramatically improved as they no longer have to spend upwards of 20 minutes on the phone trying to schedule an appointment.
- Moving to Online Self-Scheduling
Patients today have the convenience of scheduling or ordering almost anything from their phone, so why not allow them the ability to schedule a doctor appointment from right from that same device? True online self-scheduling allows patients to view and choose the day/time option that works best for their schedule, and then book on the spot without having to log-in to a separate service. The most effective solutions will also incorporate providers’ scheduling protocols and business rules as part of the scheduling process, ensuring patients are guided quickly and efficiently to the right care.
- Optimizing with Automated Outreach
While many organizations might be using automated outreach as part of their patient communications, they typically don’t leverage that platform as an opportunity for patients to schedule care. With automated outreach sent from a digital care coordination platform, patients can be engaged with interactive voice response (IVR) or text (SMS) outreach messages that include the ability to self-schedule. It’s convenient and easy for patients, and the call to action linked to the ability to act increases booked appointments for providers.
We live in a digital world where 77% of patients agree that possessing the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online is necessary. And it’s not just younger patients – older adults are using technology more than we realize, with a whopping two-thirds of people over the age of 65 using social media and an even higher percentage using smartphones. Healthcare providers should heed this consensus and change in pattern and make omni-channel access a focus for 2020.
Curious to learn more about what omni-channel access can do for your organization? Check out our guide here and learn how to get started today.