- Use of patient engagement technology, access to full medical records via EHRs, and other digital communication tools are a significant determinants of high patient satisfaction, according to a recent survey from Black Book.
Specifically, the way in which healthcare organizations use their inpatient EHRs to share patient health data and communicate with patients outside of the hospital are essential for a positive patient experience, the survey showed.
"Involvement with healthcare consumers through technologies is proving to be a significant element of patient satisfaction," said Black Book Research’s managing partner Doug Brown. "Healthcare consumers more frequently interact through electronic media in 2018, and while they value contact with their providers, they don't have the patience for lacks in hospital interoperability, incorrect billing and access to scheduling and results."
When medical organizations do not use their EHRs in a meaningful way, patients take note. Eighty-nine percent of patients under the age of 40 stated that they are currently dissatisfied with their organizations’ use of patient engagement technology.
Another 84 percent of patients said they are specifically looking for providers who use advanced health IT that helps patients communicate with their doctors and engage with their own health data.
Ninety-two percent of patients said that inability to immediately access their own medical records hindered patient satisfaction, and 85 percent said no access to telehealth was a dissatisfier.
"Patients expect and want to interact more with hospitals through digital channels like email, apps and social media rather than interacting on a traditionally personal level with clinical and financial back office staff," Brown explained.
Although patient engagement technology and effective EHR use are significant influencers for patient satisfaction, few hospitals are doing enough to support health IT. Seventy-eight percent of hospital respondents said they have not set their budgets to prioritize revamping their health IT offerings, including improvements in patient engagement, interoperability, and patient communications.
Hospitals are also falling short when it comes to revenue cycle management technologies, the report revealed. Revenue cycle solutions play an important role in the patient interaction because it can make or break the patient discharge process and patient billing process.
"The revenue cycle management channel of healthcare IT systems had the lowest positive experience," Brown noted. "Hospitals are taking steps to improve it, but they have a way to go."
Sixty-nine percent of healthcare consumers said the discharge process and insurance interactions can ruin an otherwise positive patient experience, the report noted.
"Part of this is probably due in part to patient expectations that have been set beyond most hospital's technological capabilities for interoperability with both other providers and payors," Brown pointed out.
For example, when patients pay in retail spaces, the checkout process is relatively easy. Patients know how much they will pay and can make the monetary exchange relatively pain-free. In healthcare, lacking price transparency and underdeveloped payment processes can cause a headache for patients.
When this happens, patients cannot distinguish between a faulty technology and incompetent hospital workers. Eighty-eight percent of patients said poor patient payment experiences are the fault of the hospital, not the EHR or the revenue cycle management tool.
Healthcare organizations face an increasing imperative to deliver a positive patient experience. As patients continue to assume more financial responsibility for their own healthcare, they will likely shop around to find providers who fit patient needs.
Additionally, amidst national calls for better patient engagement, medical organizations need to ensure they have stable means for communication and patient data sharing. Using an EHR tool that offers patients access to their own health data as well as communication with their providers will be essential to meeting national benchmarks.