More efficient visits and better reimbursement rates are just two examples of why providing a safe and positive experience for patients – whether through technological innovation, due diligence, or collaborative community care – is a winning combination.

Shorter, more timely visits
Improving care can help make exams go more smoothly so delays are fewer in number. Medical offices and facilities are stretched thin these days. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in. Even when appointments are scheduled, wait times in waiting rooms can be quite lengthy. Maryland has the most protracted period, averaging 53 minutes for emergency room admissions, the longest in the nation. Washington D.C. isn’t much better (52 minutes).

“Wait times can be addressed by taking advantage of mobile technology.”

No one wants to spend that amount of time waiting for anything, certainly not when it involves one’s health. Wait times have been an ongoing issue for years, but frequently, they can be resolved by taking advantage of mobile technology.

For example, many of these delays are patient-related – not necessarily in terms of volume, but rather their failure to arrive on time. Tardiness pushes everything and everyone back, and the issue only grows worse if the next patient is late even by a few minutes.

Technology, however, is helping medical facilities resolve this problem by sending reminders to patients 24 hours before they arrive by phone or text message. Additionally, the leveraging of technology helps patients save time by taking care of clerical tasks from home – like updating contact information – so they have one less thing to do before their scheduled appointments.

When patients have the means with which to make better use of their time, medical facilities can improve the patient experience by enhancing engagement.

Better reimbursement rates
Value-based care is a top priority, particularly for the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Medicare reimbursements are largely contingent upon health outcomes of patients, such as if they had to be readmitted due to complications or poor follow-up. The safety and well-being of patients can’t be overemphasized enough and the federal government will dock those that fall short.

That’s exactly what hundreds of medical facilities are learning the hard way. As reported by Kaiser Health News and Medscape, 800 of them are being compensated less by Medicare than in past years due to high rates of infections and patient injuries. Since the creation of the Hospital Acquired Conditions Reduction Program (HACRP), over 1,750 hospitals and medical practices have been hit with a penalty. On top of that, for 110 of the 800 sanctioned, this was their fifth consecutive year.

Missy Danforth, vice president of healthcare ratings for the nonprofit patient safety organization Leapfrog Group, told Medscape these financial penalties are designed not to punish but to remind healthcare professionals about what’s most important.

“Enhancing communication and connectivity can improve patient safety.”

“The fact that everyone’s talking about it, from front-line nurses to boards of directors, is positioning patient safety where it should be, which is at the forefront of everyone’s minds,” Danforth explained.

Every patient care scenario that goes wrong is different, but these incidents can often be avoided by enhancing communication and connectivity. That may be with other healthcare providers – such as the sharing of medical records and more systematized transition of care management – or by better understanding what the patient really needs to have a better experience. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality offers insight, such as timely appointments, the ease of access to medical records and other health information and seamless communication between or among health care providers.

It’s important not to confuse patient experience with satisfaction because satisfaction can be subjective. As noted by the AHRQ, what one patient expects may be different from the next person. Patient experience gleans from patients themselves whether what should have happened – like being seen in the allotted appointment window – actually occurred.

For a quarter of a century, Tangible Solutions has been providing the tools, information technology and community interfaces that enhance the patient experience. Whether through cloud services, healthcare application systems or patient engagement utilities, we have the optimizations that pay off in more ways than one. Contact us to learn more.