Insights

Reimagine the Patient Journey with Contactless Visits

Sonia Singh, Vice President, Consumer-Driven Growth, AVIA

COVID-19 has resulted in a steep decline in patient visits across all specialties, with 66% of US consumers postponing primary care appointments and a 99% reduction in high-margin services such as knee replacements.1 Accompanying these tremendous losses, health systems face declining revenue, with the latest statistics showing US hospitals and health systems losing an average of $50 billion per month.2

Safely and effectively bringing patients back to your facilities is imperative. However, many patients are continuing to delay necessary care out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Whether it’s putting off preventive care, skipping important diagnostic procedures, or avoiding the emergency department, these delays put patient outcomes at risk. 

“The impact of delayed medical care could become the second health crisis of this year." — Jonathan Lee Gleason, Chief Quality Officer, Jefferson Health

Create the Contactless Patient Journey to Rebuild Patient Confidence
How can health systems rebuild patient confidence and restart delayed visits? The answer requires reimagining the patient experience to enable a contactless patient journey, from pre-visit registration to post-visit payment and documentation. Progressive health systems will not only focus on recovering patient volumes in the short-term, but will reimagine care to meet patients’ evolving demands.

Consumers have come to expect a seamless, contactless experience from industries such as the airlines, hospitality, and retail, which face similar challenges to healthcare: crowded spaces, many high-touch areas, and significant staff/customer interactions. Digital will play a critical role in enabling a smooth, touchless experience that is safe, works for the provider, and supports healthcare consumers along each step of their journey.

Digital Solutions Are Quickly Showing Promising Results
Leading health systems are already creating a contactless experience at key points along the journey outlined above. For example, before patient arrival, Memorial Health in Ohio facilitates contactless COVID-19 screening, registration, check-in, and payment through a self-service platform. Early results show widespread usage and increased efficiencies: 60 days after going live, 80% of patients checked in using the platform and 220+ staff hours were saved.3 

Upon arrival, both Banner Health and UnityPoint Health are using digital solutions to enable the virtual waiting room, via mobile chatbots that enable contactless paperwork and check-in (Banner Health) and text-based platforms that alert patients when to leave their vehicles to enter the building, minimizing contact with others in the facility (UnityPoint Health).

Re-envisioning Care Requires Integration of Strategy and Operations
However, to optimize the contactless patient journey for the long-term, digital solutions alone will not be sufficient. They must be integrated with an updated strategic and operational approach. Progressive health systems will consider some of the following tactics as part of an extensive overall strategy.

  • Optimize mix of virtual and in-person visits.
  • Update workflows to stagger schedules, rotate teams, and roll out new training.
  • Evaluate and renovate physical space to reconfigure patient and staff flows and better integrate digital solutions into the physical environment. 
  • Create marketing campaigns to announce changes, reaching out with personalized communication methods.  
  • Determine needed changes to staffing models (remote workforce, updated shifts/schedules).

Key Benefits Include Protection From Future Surges, Increased Efficiency Today
Reimagining the patient journey will not only enable you to bring patients back to your facilities, it will also help you prepare for the future as we move into the new normal after the initial COVID-19 surge. Key benefits of investing the time and energy today into rethinking your patient journey include:

  • Prepares you for future surges 
  • Builds resilience and agility in your operations
  • Builds back patient confidence 
  • Creates additional efficiency gains from digitizing operations 
  • Reduces risk of exposure to providers 
  • Allows you to optimize your space in new ways

Lean Into the AVIA Network to Get Started
Creating this new contactless patient experience requires a multi-pronged approach, incorporating digital, operational, and strategic solutions. Lean in to the power of the AVIA Network to help you get started. I’m answering your questions on contactless visits all week on AVIA Connect, our online knowledge sharing and collaboration platform, with Gensler’s Global Health and Wellness Practice Area Leader Scot Latimer. I invite you to click here to activate your free AVIA Connect account and ask us your questions.  

Sources:

  1. Mehrotra A, et al. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on outpatient visits: a rebound emerges. The Commonwealth Fund. May 19, 2020.
  2. American Hospital Association. Report: Nation’s hospitals losing about $50B a month fighting pandemic. May 5, 2020.
  3. McKinney M. Memorial Health System and Phreesia partner to respond to COVID-19 [press release]. Market Watch. April 20, 2020.