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Patient experience partly driven by quality of scheduling options

Report shows providers embraced technology solutions, but patients have not.

If doctors want to deliver a positive patient experience, it starts with scheduling of appointments, according to a study commissioned by Relatient. Three-quarters of providers indicated scheduling was an important element in the patient experience, and nearly half say it is the most important.

Most provider groups use technology for outbound communication to patients, but patients are still relying on human-driven interactions by phone or at the front desk at a time when staffing challenges abound, according to the report. While scheduling and patient engagement technology are widely available to provider groups and many have implemented them, patients have yet to widely adopt them.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • Approximately two-thirds of provider groups rely on phone calls and/or use automated phone calls to communicate with patients prior to appointments
  • 60% of provider groups send mass patient messages, and about half send targeted/segmented messages
  • 84% of providers say patients still schedule care with the front desk
  • 73% of patients still call to cancel or reschedule an appointment
  • Only 4% of providers use automated chat

“Provider groups overwhelmingly understand the need for automation and digital tools to improve the patient experience—especially as they face unprecedented staffing challenges,” said Jeff Gartland, CEO at Relatient “The key for them is identifying and investing in solutions that alleviate staffing challenges while providing an experience consumers will embrace and use.”

Staffing challenges impact both staff and patient experience, according to the provider groups surveyed:

  • 35% report negative impact on staff morale
  • 18% report longer wait times for patients
  • 16% report negative impact to patient experience
  • 39% report it takes more than four weeks to onboard new staff

In addition, provider groups cited managing provider preferences as the number one driver of patient scheduling challenges. Notably, 86% of respondents said their organization still relies on staff knowledge or offline resources to manage rules and preferences—as opposed to leveraging an intelligent scheduling platform.

The survey of 359 individuals in c-suite, executive and other senior positions was commissioned by Relatient and conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) in August 2022.

The full report can be downloaded here.

This article originally appeared on Medical Economics®.