The Cost of Convenience
Healthcare is changing, and the cause is consumerism. With more information online and the introduction of the Affordable Care Act spurring transparency, patients today have more data than ever. As a result, they have the ability to make choices.
Following the lead of others industries, healthcare now needs to focus on being costumer-centric, or rather patient-centric. A trip to the doctor will never be like a visit to the grocery store, but patients still want the care they receive to meet their needs. They want their care in the most efficient and effective manner. They don’t want to wait weeks to see their doctor, nor do they want an appointment or procedure to interfere with their daily life. Patients want care to be as easy and convenient as possible.
As this movement of increased healthcare consumerism continues to grow, providers must adapt. If care isn’t convenient, the impact will certainly be felt on a healthcare providers’ bottom-line, and likely in more than one way.
The first and most obvious impact is loss of market share. Today’s competition in healthcare is fierce. As consumerism increases, patients are more selective on who and where they choose to receive their care. No longer is a referral or simply a good reputation in the community enough. With information at their fingertips, patients look online at facility and individual provider reviews, available appointment times, office locations, patient requirements, and prices, when available. If a physician and practice doesn’t offer care that meets their preferences, that patient is likely going to seek out another provider. Additionally, it will be hard to retain patients if there are other options with more convenient hours, better patient-provider communication, and overall greater perceived value.
The second potential threat to the bottom line involves reimbursement from performance on quality measures, such as patient experience. Convenience is certainly factored into a patient’s perception of their care. Patients who receive care in an efficient manner will likely be more satisfied. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began mandating measurement of patient experience with the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) Survey and reimbursing hospitals based on results under the Value-Based Purchasing program in 2012.
Performance on HCAHPS was also included as one of three quality measures taken into account for reimbursement under the mandated bundled payments as part of the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model, which began this past April. As healthcare continues to transition from fee- for-service to value-based care, CMS will place greater weight on quality, and it is going to apply across every setting. It is no longer a questions of “if”, but rather simply a matter of “when” your reimbursement will be impacted.
While the argument for improving access is obvious, hurdles to changing care delivery exist. Location, hours, staffing, and volume can make offering convenient care more difficult. As a result, organizations need to leverage technology. Technology can assist in offering alternative sources of communication and improvements to access. Moving appropriate patient check-ins and mandatory education online, as well as offering an outlet for patients to communicate with providers, serves to both meet consumer needs and improve the patient experience.
With healthcare consumerism on the rise, the cost of convenience needs to be a concern. Patients have a choice; they will factor convenience into their decision.
About the Author
David Brown is the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of VOX Telehealth. He brings more than 20 years of entrepreneurial experience spanning several industries, including behavioral healthcare, technology, banking, and retail. Prior to founding VOX Telehealth, David spent 10 years overseeing patient engagement for a multi-state behavioral healthcare practice, and understands the importance of connectivity and programs that engage patients in a meaningful and effective way.
About VOX Telehealth
VOX Telehealth was founded to improve patient outcomes by redefining the patient experience and recovery model. Through a state-of-the art platform, VOX delivers procedure-specific, full episode-of-care engagement solutions that provide education, coordination, and monitoring through industry leading content, proprietary SmartTasks™ and a customizable alert escalation and notification system. Engaging the patient throughout their pre-op phase, as well as through transition of care and recovery, patients are connected and accountable, leading to greater satisfaction, improved outcomes, and reduced cost of care. For more information, visit www.voxtelehealth.com.