At its core, the concept of “patient centricity” means putting the patient at the center of their own care journey. That may seem straightforward—patient care should obviously revolve around the patient. But in a health care system that has been notoriously far behind the technological advancements of the country around it, patients have often felt like an afterthought, in the dark on how much their care costs, and unable to access and share their own health records or even to get in touch with their providers.
This has been the status quo for decades, but in today’s digital era, patient expectations are rapidly rising to consumer-like levels. Today, patients want their health care experience to be convenient, fast, transparent and affordable. It’s what they’ve come to expect in most other areas of their lives, and yet it’s a far cry from the general approach to health care.
However, that’s all changing. Not only are these shifting expectations putting more pressure on providers, they’ve also resulted in a flurry of new entrants into the market that have proven track records for meeting consumer expectations. Online retailers like Amazon are increasingly entering the post-acute game, creating a new subset of health care e-commerce. And well-known organizations such as CVS and Walmart are expanding into the post-acute care market with their own in-store care clinics that promise increased access to care, patient engagement and lower costs.
When you look at these organizations, customer centricity is at their core. The industry has reached a point where home medical equipment (HME), home infusion and other home-based care providers need to adopt patient-centric models in order to succeed in the long term.
It sounds like a lot of work, but there are simple ways to incorporate patient centricity into every step of the care journey and the workflow you already follow.
Incorporating Patient Centricity at Each Level of the Care Journey
Starting with the first interaction, patients expect to receive a confirmation when their provider has received their referral and understand how best to communicate with that provider moving forward. This offers transparency and helps the patient feel in control of the interaction.
During intake, patients prefer to complete necessary forms and provide their information in a convenient modality. They also want transparency in the form of confirmation that their insurance has been approved, insight into what they may owe in the future and progress updates along the way. They also want an easy payment experience, like the option to keep a card on file or enroll in autopay.
For providers with clinical-driven workflows, there are added complexities to ensure the ideal patient experience. At a base level, patients want to receive appointment reminders and to easily reschedule if necessary. They may also prefer to meet virtually, and increasingly want to know their who their clinician is before the appointment.
When it comes to delivery and logistics, patients are really looking for that Amazon level of service. They want to know when their provider is out of a product or their item is backordered, and they want the ability to chat with someone if their order doesn’t arrive as expected. When things are running smoothly, patients want to know when to expect their shipment, when their driver is close by, who to contact if there’s an issue and possibly even who their driver is.
At the billing stage, patients want flexibility, convenience and transparency. They want the option to enroll in autopay and the ability to change their insurance provider when necessary. They also want to receive proactive monthly updates so they can easily view their invoices; they expect to get reminders for an expiring credit card before it creates a disruption in their care and they’d like an easy way to contact the office for billing questions.
At the reimbursement stage, if this is applicable, patients want to know why their insurance sent a denial, as well as receive notice and a reminder that the denied amount will be charged to their card. They also want to conveniently work with their provider to resolve financial reconciliation.
Lastly, in regards to resupply, patients prefer to be notified when they’re eligible for supplies and want the ability to order from their phone or computer and to receive notifications when their order ships.
At each level, these desires boil down to two core things: improved communication and access.
Digitizing the patient journey is the only way to effectively offer these personalized services to both empower and engage patients without adding or burdening existing staff.
The Far-Reaching Benefits of Patient-Centric Care
The good news is patient centricity doesn’t just benefit patients. Digitizing the patient journey can significantly improve the provider experience as well.
For example, digitizing referrals makes it easier for prescribers to send new orders and eliminates paper chasing. Digitizing the intake process makes it easier to train new staff, qualify patients and understand the status of each order in intake. Digitizing billing reduces days sales outstanding and helps providers be proactive in collecting their patient portions. And a digital, patient-centric resupply solution maximizes resupply orders while minimizing involvement in the resupply process. On the whole, empowering and engaging patients with digital, patient-centric interactions drives greater financial transparency, predictability and convenience, while improving therapy adherence and reducing manual burdens.
With consumer-centric business flowing into the post-acute care market, it’s vital for providers to meet the rising expectations of their patients. Whether an organization is driven by equipment sales and rentals, resupply, clinical-driven therapies or a combination, there are impactful strategies to incorporate patient centricity at every level.