A convenient truth: Self-service works in healthcare

Through the course of my work, I speak with many healthcare executives and common concerns emerge from almost every conversation. Healthcare executives across the board lament the changes in reimbursement that are forcing them to find ways to collect payments earlier in the revenue cycle. The second centers on their facilities’ Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores and how to maintain or improve them.

My advice to these executives? The solution to both challenges lies in a “patient centric” technology strategy. By taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to self-service, hospitals can not only enhance the patient experience and build patient loyalty, but also improve their organization’s efficiency and bottom line at the same time. Patients really just want to see the doctor or have the needed procedure done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Patients don’t mind filling out forms in advance and they don’t mind being told that they will own X dollars for the visit, as long as it is done in advance when it is convenient for them. 

Self-service: Not just for retail

Think about it: Choice and convenience are competitive differentiators for today’s busy consumers—in all aspects of their lives. Whether it is self-checkout at the grocery store, paying a bill from a laptop in their living room, or depositing a check through an app on their smartphones, consumers gravitate toward businesses that let them complete tasks rapidly and easily, at their own convenience. And that’s quickly becoming true in healthcare, where patients are asking providers to provide self-service options for transacting such healthcare-related tasks as scheduling appointments, paying bills and filling out or updating forms.

Benefits to patients: One of the biggest misconceptions about self-service technology I see among healthcare executives is that if it’s deployed, patients won’t use it. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Surveys by Gartner and other firms show that consumers strongly desire access to self-service options in healthcare. Moreover, some of these studies say the top pain point among patients is hassling with paper forms and having to answer the same questions repeatedly, along with not having 24/7 access to health information online.

By enabling patients to take control over some aspects of their healthcare, self-service technology can help healthcare organizations give patients a technology experience they expect, which can bolster patient satisfaction scores. Simply making it more convenient for patients to get in and do the things they need to do can go a long way toward keeping providers’ satisfaction scores high.