Managing a healthcare practice is never a straight-forward task, with a new obstacle always on the horizon. How can practice managers overcome the most taxing challenges they come up against?
1. Missed Appointments and Late Arrivals
Missed appointments are one of the biggest issues facing healthcare practices today. They lead to inefficiencies in staff scheduling, poor utilisation of practice resources, longer waiting times for other patients and often significant financial losses – costing taxpayers $4m a month in Queensland alone.
Without a doubt, this has a grave effect on the level of care practices, hospitals and surgeries are able to deliver.
Sadly, there’s no way to entirely neutralise this problem, after all, some of the reasons that patients miss appointments are completely unavoidable. However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the effects on your practice.
Using SMS messaging to remind patients of appointments has been shown to reduce no-shows by over 30% and patients at healthcare practices using SMS reminders are three-times more likely to cancel appointments than just not show up. This is hugely beneficial for healthcare providers who can then offer this time to other patients.
Similarly, patients arriving late for their appointments have a hugely disruptive effect on scheduling. When patients aren’t on time there is always a knock-on effect, pushing back all following appointments.
One of the most common pain points among patients and their visitors is not being able to find their way around healthcare facilities. Simply ensuring there’s clear wayfinding to help patients navigate your hospital or surgery can have a profound effect on how many patients are late for appointments – thereby reducing waiting times.
Preventing visitors from feeling lost during what is likely to be an already stressful time is also a sure-fire way to boost patient experience. This can be an “easy win” compared to the cost and effort required for most projects aimed at improving patient experience.
2. Waiting Room Woes
Unfortunately, there will always be patients unhappy with the length of time spent waiting to see a healthcare professional. Unsurprisingly, studies show that 97% of patients are frustrated by these waits.
One effective solution to reducing the impact of the issue is to simply display estimated waiting times on digital screens in your waiting room. With unexplained waits feeling up to 35% longer than they actually are, this is a relatively fuss-free way to mitigate patient unrest – although it doesn’t solve the root problem.
Many healthcare practices are tackling long waits by ensuring there is a healthy flow of patients through their waiting room. This can be achieved by installing easy to use check-in systems.
Rather than greeting patients who arrive at reception with a long-queue of people ending with an overworked staff member, digital self-check in kiosks allow multiple patients to check in for their appointment in a matter of seconds. This leaves your front-office staff free to deal with more pressing matters and patients are checked in with little fuss, resulting in a much better patient experience.
The key to healthy patient flow is understanding that smooth and speedy check-in processes need to be paired with a comprehensible patient calling system. Patients who are unable to decipher their name being called are likely to disrupt patient flow just as much as a cluttered and chaotic check-in.
3. Increasing the Effectiveness of Healthcare Campaigns
As healthcare moves from simply reacting to illnesses and diseases to preventing them through healthier lifestyles, it’s becoming far more important for practices to promote local health initiatives.
As racks of well-worn leaflets and yellowing posters are replaced by digital signs, practice managers are beginning to understand the exciting opportunity to highlight health information using digital media.
Whether you have the digital skills available to create and upload your own eye-catching collateral, or you download ready-made healthcare content, digital displays empower you to draw attention to ongoing initiatives and even accurately target different demographics.
Digital signage is the perfect platform for such activity, with research showing that:
- Digital signage is among the most cost-effective advertising media, costing as little as 10% of any other advertising channel.
- Digital signage fosters high engagement with healthcare messaging, with 55% of respondents to an OAAA survey able to recall specific messaging displayed on digital displays.
- Three out of four patients and caregivers find digital signage enhances the hospital experience and provides health information they could use.
Digital displays can also help ease the pain of long delays to appointments by brightening up your waiting room with entertaining content for children, up-to-the-moment news broadcasts and even information about what’s going on in your community.
4. Keeping Up with New Technology
Existing at the intersection of technology, science and sociology, progress advances at lightning speed in the healthcare industry. However, many practices have yet to update their front-office processes to better capitalise on the transformative abilities of digital healthcare technology.
Inexplicably, many healthcare organisations are still relying on systems that undoubtedly belong in the past, despite practice managers being well-versed in tackling new challenges.
Until very recently, if you wanted to see a healthcare professional, your only choices were to either brave long queues or deal with awful hold music and even worse automated booking systems. Health initiatives and information were dispersed via unattractive posters and leaflets, while a handful of patients checking in at once could cause chaos in the waiting room.
It’s only recently that online booking portals and smartphone apps have been used to make it easier for patients to see healthcare professionals. Thankfully, modern design sensibilities and digital media are slowly being accepted as potential solutions to spreading potentially life-saving health information, while efficient check-in processes are freeing up front-office practice staff to perform more important tasks.
This isn’t necessarily the norm though, and vital overhauls to healthcare technology aren't being made. This not only reduces the level of care that can be delivered, but also prevents practices from competing on a level playing-field.
The best way to address this challenge head-on is to find a technology partner who truly understands the unique subtleties of the healthcare industry.
As ever, the ideal solution to these challenges is a blend of organisational change and technological innovation. Having the right technology partner ensures you can not only keep up with new technology, but you'll be able to provision a solution that's right for your practice. They can also help with making sure that your staff are fully prepared for any changes.
With many smaller practices now struggling to keep pace with with competitors, vulnerable patients who are unable to travel further to larger facilities are in danger of losing access to convenient and affordable healthcare. Empowering practice managers to overcome these challenges with digital healthcare technology can often be the difference between success and failure.
Click here to learn more about how the Jayex range of solutions can reinforce your strategy to tackle the challenges of managing a modern practice.Back to blog