Health Care Has to Change the Status Quo to Improve Access (Part 3: Availability)
By Jerrod Ullah, CEO & Founder
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine define access to health care as the “timely use of personal health services to achieve the best possible health outcomes.”
Expanding access to health care services has never been more critical, especially for underserved populations. Health inequities and SDOH barriers are a major factor, and physician shortages and inefficient workflows also keep practices from reaching many of their most vulnerable patients.
Today’s health care practices need to address both of these issues in order to deliver the availability necessary to reach more patients and bring about better outcomes. The diagram below shows the relationship between health care supply and demand — as well as the importance of giving patients insight into the availability of services offered.
Whether you’re a provider (on the supply side) trying to figure out how you can scale your services or a patient (on the demand side) wanting to know what services and appointments are available, we need the process to be easier and more transparent. We often forget patients are consumers. Patients now expect their health care services to be easily apparent, like ordering from Uber Eats. They want to know what’s available and how they can obtain it. Otherwise, they’ll either put off getting the care they need or if they are very concerned, they’ll try and find it somewhere else.
One thing we’re doing to help our healthcare delivery partners is equipping them with convenience technology like our Digital Open Door. It’s available in both web and mobile and exposes their critical access points to the population they serve — essentially making their services viewable if not available to patients 24/7. Available services are clearly presented and messaging and scheduling is automated via our proprietary bot technology — thus eliminating much of the manual and administrative tasks for clinical and front-end staff. Use cases can include:
Self-Scheduling In-Person, eVisits or Telehealth
Virtual Check-In and mobile e-sign for consents
Confirming, Cancelling or Rescheduling
Our care coordination engine also ensures that the appropriate resource (provider, social worker, educator, community resource, etc.) is connected with the patient based directly on the patient's feedback.
One last capability I can’t help but mention when it comes to making clinical resources more available is our load balancing functionality. Coupled with our on-demand Telehealth, our customers are making resources more available in various ways, including:
Streamlining their on-call after hours Telehealth process
Collaborating with multiple specialists (virtually) to determine next steps
Emergency Medicine practices are using it for surge support by triaging patients virtually and providing on-demand Telehealth visits as part on their follow-up strategy to reduce hospital readmissions or unnecessary returns
Emergency Medicine practices are also advancing ET3 delivery by providing paramedics with on-scene ED support
Stay tuned for part 4, where I’ll introduce another one of the 5 A’s of Access. And if you missed parts 1 and 2, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2.
If you have any thoughts on how you think healthcare organizations and HIT companies can make health care access more available for patients, I’d love to hear them!
Interested in learning more? Contact us to discuss your patient engagement and access priorities!