WELL™ HEALTH ANNOUNCES VACCINE DEPLOYMENT PROGRAM

As the world anticipates an efficient vaccine distribution to the public,  Well Health Inc., has unveiled the WELL™ Health Vaccine Deployment Program to help healthcare providers rapidly execute secure patient messaging for COVID-19 vaccine communications.

WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program can be implemented in as little as five days and integrates with all major electronic health record companies (EHRs) and patient payment platforms with safety, security, and privacy.

Healthcare providers can use WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program for all aspects of vaccine communications including patient education, vaccine safety reassurance, appointment scheduling, adverse event monitoring, and more.

Since December 2020 when the first COVID-19 vaccine became available in the U.S., WELL™ Health has been used by more than 70 healthcare systems to send over 845,000 COVID-19 vaccine-related communications and schedule around 53,000 COVID-19 appointments.

“With COVID-19 rates skyrocketing and more vaccine supply becoming available, healthcare providers must rapidly identify, educate and engage millions of patients around the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Guillaume de Zwirek, CEO and founder, WELL™ Health Inc. “Using our WELL technology to manage COVID-19 vaccine communications significantly reduces a hospital staff’s administrative burden and call center volume.  WELL also allows healthcare staff to focus on high-touch interactions such as deploying the vaccine itself.”

De Zwirek notes that WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program uses WELL™ ChatAssist to configure and automate hundreds of vaccine-related workflows to manage patient questions, appointment scheduling, virtual waiting rooms, post-discharge follow up, adverse event monitoring, and more.

WELL can be used to communicate with patients throughout the entire vaccine process, making this crucial process easier for patients and healthcare providers. WELL even allows providers to schedule second dose appointments immediately following the first to ensure patients return to get their second dose.

WELL™ Health’s Vaccine Deployment Program:

  • Pre-Appointment Checklist Distribution
  • Outreach and Reassurance
  • Adverse Reaction Feedback
  • Second Dose Follow-up
  • Rapid Deployment and Implementation

Tip sheet and playbook

Beyond the implementation of the Vaccine Deployment Program, WELL™ Health also launched the COVID-19 Vaccine Tip Sheet and Playbook in early December 2020, created in partnership with clinical advisors.  The playbook offers tactical tips and language for healthcare providers to guide patients through the COVID-19 vaccine process. The tips work natively with the WELL™ Health communication platform but can be used with any patient communication tool.

COVID-19 vaccine in the news

Just last week, President elect-Joe Biden announced his plans to release all available COVID-19 vaccine doses, creating a need to make patient communications, appointment scheduling, and monitoring adverse events even greater. As new patients become eligible for the COVOID-19 vaccine, particularly those from underserved communities, the ability to communicate in multiple languages with cultural relevance is crucial. It is also essential that health communications are available via SMS text messages instead of just being internet-based since not everyone has access to internet services. The WELL Health communication platform has become key in helping health providers close the digital divide in order to reach this patient population♥

Strategies for Optimizing Virtual Patient Engagement

Today’s healthcare system is tilting toward more consumer-centered and participatory medicine.  According to a report by Ernst & Young (EY) and the American Hospital Association (AHA) Center for Health Innovation, this trend is forcing providers to embrace on-demand, connected, and data-driven patient engagement methods and technologies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically accelerated this shift. During the first quarter of 2020, telehealth visits surged by 50 percent, compared to the previous year. By week 13, telehealth had increased by 154 percent compared with the same period in 2019. WELL’s own research indicates a permanent increase in telehealth visits, post-pandemic.

Post-vaccine, these shifts will revert slightly  –  but only slightly. Therefore, providers need to rapidly implement new patient engagement techniques and strategies. One such strategy is virtual care, allowing providers to safely attend to patients during lockdowns and stay-at-home guidelines. Now, as we prepare for a post-pandemic world, virtual patient engagement, an approach that encompasses telehealth and other virtual care solutions, is the new reality.

So, how can you optimize virtual patient engagement while maintaining standards of clinical excellence as you administer care virtually? Now more than ever, providers need to consider the following strategies to facilitate virtual patient engagement and interaction. Moreover, you should develop a value-based relationship with patients that is based on mutual trust and credibility.

Improve patient communications

Patient engagement is downstream of the quality of patient communication. And the truth is, for the most part, provider-patient communication is subpar. Many providers learned this the hard way this year when they suddenly had to perform unprecedented amounts of virtual patient engagement, and their tools were lacking.

What providers need is a platform that supports two-way communication between staff and patients, both automated and manual. The platform should integrate and support various modes of communication, especially SMS and other forms of messaging. This way, healthcare providers can communicate with their patients using their preferred media.

For example, Houston Methodist in Texas experienced a surge in virtual care visits when the pandemic broke out. Compared to their pre-COVID engagement rates, they had 50 times more virtual visits. The healthcare institution coordinated with WELL and created a virtual waiting room for over 30 of their outpatient clinics.

“The ability to communicate back and forth,” said Tesha Montgomery, Vice President of Operations and Patient Access at Houston Methodist, “assured patients that we were there for them both virtually and in-person. It was crucial as we continued to safely provide care in the midst of this pandemic.”

Adopt all-in-one portal solutions

Following the popularization of electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs), the use of patient portals has become increasingly prominent for healthcare providers of all sizes and specialties. Such platforms enhance the quality of care while enabling greater virtual patient engagement.

Modern-day providers face the demand for integrating health records across multiple data sources while segregating new products to a diverse audience and aggregating data into a single customer view.

All-in-one portals can not only boost virtual patient engagement but also provide secure, online access to personal health information. This includes lab results, medication lists, allergies, immunization, and discharge data. They can also permit patient-provider communication using secure messaging, payment and appointment management, and prescription refill requests.

While such portals commonly include patient information, we should note that not all patient engagement platforms are equal. Your patient engagement platform should work as a powerful communication tool, delivering messaging that drives financial and clinical results.

A great example is Cerner, who has decided to integrate their patient portal with WELL to improve patient communication, reduce administrative time for clinicians and staff, and close the gap in communication in healthcare.

Prioritize interoperability

Virtual patient engagement tools are only as impactful as their ability to offer a true 360° view of the patient. This is why healthcare providers should vitally prioritize interoperability between their technologies and other existing patient engagement methods and systems.

System interoperability is the ability of different information systems, applications, and devices to access, integrate, exchange, and cooperatively use data in a coordinated way, within and across the organization. The goal of system interoperability for any provider is to facilitate access to and retrieval of information in order to enable safe, timely, effective, efficient, and equitable patient-centered care.

Perceptive healthcare providers are now leveraging virtual patient engagement tools such as WELL and patients are responding positively. Such tools can integrate seamlessly with existing clinical and administrative systems, driving the adoption of patient portals, payment systems, and more.

Once their health information is entered into a system, it becomes available to the patient whenever they need it, wherever they are. Communication becomes effective and efficient. This is the essence of interoperability in healthcare, according to Scott Wallace, the President and CEO of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology (Alliance).

Streamline healthcare reminders

One of the barriers to patient engagement is the sheer volume of patients that need interaction. In today’s age of healthcare consumerism, the focus has shifted from volume to value care. Consequently, healthcare providers should now prioritize 1:1 communication and reminders.

To boost virtual patient interaction, providers need to seamlessly combine outbound communication. This enhances healthcare reminders, increases patient responses, and decreases patient leakage.

They can do this through automated phone messages and emails, or through patient engagement solutions that unifies communications by integrating your EHR and patient-facing vendors. Case studies show that reminders and constant patient engagement can decrease no-shows significantly, increase appointment confirmations, all of which have direct implications on revenue.

WELL offers an unlimited amount of configurable automation rules that streamline repetitive messaging tasks. Moreover, providers can restrict configuration and management of automations to specific users, which enables complete oversight. Furthermore, with its EHR integration, providers can schedule any form of outreach, from automated appointment reminders to thank you messages.

Offer virtual visits

One key benefit of telemedicine is the ability to address patients’ concerns virtually via video chat or web messaging. Often regarded as ‘high-tech’ care, it can also support meaningful connections with healthcare consumers, who may require ‘high-touch’ care remotely.

A recent survey revealed that over 42 percent of patients now use telehealth services. Unsurprisingly, patients have come to appreciate not just the convenience of video chatting with their caregivers, but also its cost-effectiveness. Those surveyed stated why they prefer telehealth visits:

  • 65 percent of patients cite convenience
  • 63 percent says they don’t have to worry about exposure to other potentially sick individuals
  • 44 percent believes it easier to schedule than an in-office appointment

Safety, convenience, and cost-effectiveness are some of the key themes that emerged during the COVID-19 crisis. Going forward, these will most likely continue to impact healthcare consumers’ behavior post-pandemic.

This is why communication platforms with video-enabled functionality are vital to providers’ patient engagement techniques and strategies. Such technologies allow them to connect better with their patients and offer this new form of care.

Moreover, to maximize telehealth investments, providers should integrate with an automated patient communications solution like WELL. Automated message delivery, especially with invitations, reminders, and no-show follow-ups, helps to coordinate virtual care easily. This saves valuable staff resources and time while greatly improving patient satisfaction.

Recognize the consumer aspect

Remember, when you start implementing virtual patient engagement strategies, you are no longer delivering the technologies to other physicians. You are delivering the technology directly to consumers, and it’s a completely different animal.

With doctors and other health professionals, less than optimal interfaces are tolerable but with consumers, this is unacceptable. A virtual patient engagement platform should provide speed, intuitiveness, and ease. This improvement happened for Tandem Health, a multi-specialty community health provider in South Carolina. With their WELL integration, they simplified communications by moving away from their clunky patient portal messaging system to convenient, secure text messaging.

As Marty Martin, Director of Clinical Informatics at Tandem, said, “Just walk into any waiting room. Everyone is on their phones, texting. With WELL, we are meeting them where they already are.”

Everyone who’s got a stake in the healthcare industry needs to start recognizing patients as consumers. This includes understanding how they can provide what the patients want and care about. Millennials, in particular, have grown up in an age of consumer-grade digital habits. As such, they cannot fathom why healthcare is any different.

The age of healthcare consumerism has arrived. As the healthcare industry steadily moves into the 21st century, providers need to empower patients to be smarter, healthier, and better informed. Leveraging the power of digital technology to lift the barriers to patient engagement is a great first step. ♥

WELL COVID-19 Vaccine Tip Sheet

WELL™ Health Shares Top Tips for Guiding Patients Through the Covid Vaccine Process

Healthcare providers are under tremendous pressure to vaccinate eligible patients with the new COVID vaccine coming as early as next week. Whether you are a WELL Health customer or use a different platform, we are committed to helping healthcare providers succeed in guiding patients through the COVID vaccine process.

WELL Health’s clinical advisor, Terrance Lee, MD, MPH — a board-certified emergency medicine physician and Chief Medical Information Officer of the Beth Israel Deaconesshelped create these recommended tips and workflows.

[DOWNLOAD] COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Playbook

This WELL Health tip sheet offers tactical tips and language to guide patients through the COVID vaccine process, including education, appointment scheduling, no-show management, and adverse event monitoring. These tactics can be used with any patient communication tool but work natively with the WELL™ Health communication platform.

Tip 1: Reassure Patients About Vaccine Safety

To sort through multiple channels of information, patients may need reassurance and guidance about the vaccine’s safety, efficacy, and importance.

Example:

The COVID vaccine is now available. This vaccine, which has two doses, is critical in saving lives, stopping the spread of coronavirus and ending the pandemic. You can learn more about the COVID vaccine and its safety at {insert appropriate link}. We will soon be contacting patients who are eligible to receive the vaccine. In the meantime, please read about its safety or text us with any questions or to speak to your healthcare provider to learn more.

Tip 2: Educate Patients About Eligibility, Safety & Doses

Some eligible patients may resist receiving the vaccine when first approached. Leverage your patient communication tools to educate patients about eligibility, why it is critical to receive the COVID vaccine, and what they can expect (i.e. number of doses).

Example:

You are eligible to receive the COVID vaccine, which comes in two doses. It is critical that all eligible patients are vaccinated in order to save lives, stop the spread of coronavirus and end this pandemic. Click here {insert link} to learn more about the vaccine and its safety. Would you like to schedule an appointment to receive the COVID vaccine: Dose 1 or speak to a healthcare provider to learn more? Type 1 to schedule, 2 to speak to your healthcare provider and 3 to decline.

Tip 3: Update Appointment Confirmations & Send Reminders

Update your appointment confirmations to include instructions related to the COVID vaccine, what patients should do if they experience COVID symptoms, how to utilize the virtual waiting room, and safety protocols related to COVID.

Example:

Action: Send a confirmation immediately following the booking of an appointment.

We look forward to seeing you for the COVID vaccine Dose 1 on {insert details}.  If you have questions or need to reschedule, please call or text us. 

Action: Send a reminder 24-to-48 hours before the appointment.

We look forward to seeing you for the COVID vaccine Dose 1 appointment on {insert details}. If you have an elevated temperature, cough, sneezing, or other flu-like symptoms, please reschedule your appointment. Text us back if you have questions.

Action: Send a day-of reminder 2-to-4 hours before the appointment.

We look forward to seeing you today for the COVID vaccine Dose 1 appointment on {insert details}. Text us back if you have questions or cannot make your appointment today.

Tip 4: Collect & Respond to Adverse Events / Side Effects

Within 24 hours of the first and second dose of the COVID vaccine, follow up with patients to collect information about — and respond to — any adverse events.

Example:

Action: send within 24 hours after vaccine dose one and two.

We are following up to see how you feel after receiving the COVID vaccine. Have you experienced any soreness or redness at the site of injection? Or have you experienced any other symptoms?

(depending on patient response)

You’ve indicated a common response to the vaccine, if your symptoms worsen or if you develop new symptoms please contact your healthcare provider.

(depending on patient response)

Thanks for sharing. We will have a member of our staff contact you within 24-to-48 hours. If your symptoms worsen, please contact your healthcare provider. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.

Tip 5: Schedule the 2nd Dose Appointment Quickly

To improve the likelihood of the patient returning, schedule the second dose appointment during or immediately after the first appointment. If needed, remind patients of the importance of the second dose.

Tip 6: Follow Up With No-Shows or Refusals

Uncover the cause of no-shows, mitigate the negative impact, and reduce the likelihood of no-shows in the future. 

Example:

We did not see you at your scheduled appointment for the COVID vaccine today. Would you like to reschedule? (Y/N?)

(based on patient response)

Can you tell us why you are declining? Please select from the list below:

I would like to discuss more with my healthcare provider

I am awaiting more safety information

I am worried about the side effects

I already received my vaccine someplace else

Other

I’d rather not say

Tip 7: Monitor Patient Responses & Gather Information to Supplement Reporting

Monitor patient responses to identify and reach out to at-risk segments.  Use the information gathered during this process to supplement the data you will share with the FDA, pharmaceutical companies, and public health agencies.

More about the Tip Sheet:

The WELL Health COVID Vaccine tip sheet is intended to enable providers to optimize patient response rates. Tips and sample language are offered in “good faith” based on publicly available information at the time of publication. As more information becomes available, these tips and sample language will be updated. 

More about WELL Health:

Automations are self-configurable in the WELL™ unified patient communication hub. Message triggers, text, and timing can be customized to suit the needs of your individual practices.  ♥

Be on the Alert! Telehealth does come with challenges: 3 ways to make your life easier

We continue to struggle in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we see and understand how telehealth is a critical part of care. This recent pandemic ushered in massive telehealth adoption by doctors and patients looking to avoid the risk of infection while continuing to provide care to patients. Providers and health plans are urging CMS and Congress for expanded and permanent policy changes to support long-term use. But for many doctors (who were reluctant to embrace change), the pivot came with angst and a learning curve to integrate telehealth throughout their medical practice. In other words, they were afraid.

A recent WELL™ Insights data report indicates telehealth appointments will continue to account for 15 percent or more of appointments through the end of 2020 and beyond, making it essential to streamline the process of coordinating telehealth care between the doctor and the patient.

To make it all worthwhile for you and those you serve, here are three ways to make your life easier in the new normal.

1. Enhance the patient experience by integrating telehealth with your patient communication and EHR System. Consider unifying your healthcare communication under one hub to simplify matters for your patients and staff. You will get a greater return from your telehealth and EHR technology investments by going this route. WELL Health provides a two-way digital solution to unify the full lifecycle of patient interactions, making all this much easier to implement. WELL integrates seamlessly with the leading EHRs and your existing clinical and administrative systems. It is a simplistic method of use that can make all the difference as your telehealth efforts increase. WELL’s telehealth integration automatically populates visit links from your telehealth vendor in automated messages. Patients receive multilingual conversational messaging through their preferred channel of communication. As you have experienced, change must always be managed. WELL’s communication hub allows you to direct and encourage patients to use your patient portals, payment platforms, and other telehealth services. You will receive concrete data analytics on patient communication so you can deliver the messaging that drives financial and clinical results. And that is what you want.

How it all works:

  • Scheduled virtual appointments in your EMR, generate a link to give your patients access to their appointments.
  • WELL syncs with your EMR and identifies telehealth appointments as well as the patient-facing link for a visit.
  • Using a smartphrase, WELL inserts the visit link into an automated appointment reminder sent in line with all other communication through WELL, which eliminates manual outreach and data entry by your staff.

2. Collect receivables more quickly when you integrate telehealth with your billing cycles. The bottom line is you need to stay on top of your receivables so you can have the necessary resources to offer the best experience and treatment for your patients. As medical practices slowly rebound from pandemic revenue declines, implementing strategies to improve collections is critical. Telehealth systems like WELL enable you to gently prompt patients to pay for services in advance of appointments to decrease your staff’s intake time and accounts receivable follow-up. Advanced payments help increase your cash flow and shorten revenue cycles. WELL expedites your payments with API integrations that pull patient information from your EHR in real-time.

How it works:

  • Patients receive billing notifications by text message from your office number with a convenient link to a secure payment portal.
  • When you prompt patients to act – to confirm an appointment, pay a copay, or clear a past balance – they are more likely to comply and keep appointments, which improves receivables.
  • WELL’s two-way texting allows patients to respond quickly and more frequently to questions and ask questions without the need for staff phone calls.

3. Improve continuity of care by expanding your telehealth services to include follow-up and urgent care. Do you realize how much your patients value your opinion to continue to get the best care for their lives? With hospital emergency rooms overburdened with record COVID-19 and flu cases, it is increasingly essential for practices to offer additional telehealth solutions to alleviate the strain on the healthcare system and reduce your patients’ exposure to the coronavirus. Instead of your patients turning to an online telemedicine provider or an urgent care clinic for medical consultation or assessment on mild to chronic conditions, consider maintaining continuity of care and improving the patient experience by expanding your telehealth services to include your patients’ urgent care and follow-up needs.
When your patients bring these needs to you, it strengthens the doctor/patient relationship and prevents visits to your competitors. It keeps you in the loop about changes in your patients’ health since patients often forget to inform their doctor about visits to other providers. You stay in control while continuing and strengthening the relationship between caregiver and patient.
How it works:

  • Start by focusing on frequent health issues quickly resolved with a video or telephone consultation to triage patients to determine if your services meet their care needs.
  • Realize some patients may have turned to outside providers because they cannot physically get to your office or may be unaware of the breadth of your services.
  • Ask your patients for feedback, address any issues, and educate your patients on the positive changes through your patient communication. Your patients will need to feel comfortable with any new technology or protocols used to enhance their care.
  • As patients become familiar with your expanded telehealth services and rely on you for extended care, you can grow your telehealth offerings to solve other health issues.
    It is evident from patients and providers that virtual care is here to stay. Ensure you have the systems in place to deliver a virtual care experience that is optimal for patients while enabling your staff to spend more time on complex tasks.

To learn more about why all of this is important to our medical practice’s success, reach out to a WELL representative.

Drive Results with 3 Proven Patient Engagement Strategies

Optimized patient engagement strategies are a necessity for healthcare providers looking to properly address patient needs. Adopting digital communication management systems can help providers enact these strategies and improve revenue flow.

Primary care providers have a key role to play in driving patient-centered healthcare. Providers offer a vital entry point into the healthcare system. The onus is on them to provide progressive care management and humane forms of care for healthcare consumers.

The modern consumers of healthcare have a vital role to play here, as essential co-producers of their health. Patient needs and demands have shifted dramatically. Engagement strategies need to shift with them. When patients are engaged, their health improves. In turn, providers benefit.

Median operating margins for healthcare providers have hovered between two and three percent in the last decade. Unlocking improvements requires pioneering new strategies for patient engagement that involve consumers across the care continuum.

Why patient engagement strategies matter in the era of healthcare consumerism

Healthcare institutions exist to address the physical, mental, and social needs of the patients and their families. But only with the help of effective strategies for patient engagement are these needs met satisfactorily.

Research shows tangible benefits to implementing an efficacious patient experience and engagement strategy.

  • Good patient engagement increases adherence to treatment regimen recommendations among patients, which in turn leads to fewer complications and re-hospitalizations.
  • Good patient engagement enhances satisfaction. This facilitates a longer-standing relationship with providers, while improving experience measures that directly impact reimbursement rates.

From a business point of view, patient engagement contributes to outcomes that directly affect hospital costs and reimbursement. Executing on effective patient engagement strategies also rewards providers with better patient retention and referrals.

Creating a culture based on engagement

It’s vital for healthcare providers to create a culture of engagement in their institutions. This should start with making employees aware of the importance of maximizing patient engagement. Employees who are engaged in this way have a superior commitment to patients. They also put in more discretionary efforts in their professional work.

Once an engagement-friendly environment exists within the workforce, the next step is extending this spirit to involve your patients and their families. Educate staff members on the details and benefits of a patient experience and engagement strategy. Assigning internal accountability also helps keep every member on task.

Identifying the right patient experience and engagement strategy tools

Creating a culture of engagement in your institution requires commitment from all participants to transform the way you interact with patients. Fortunately, customer management tools enable these interactions. They bridge the gap between clinical recommendations and patient actions, helping patients make the choices they need to make.

For instance, Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center (TVHC) wanted a better way to communicate with their patients, 70 percent of whom are Hispanic. The practice’s outmoded robo-call reminder system informed patients of upcoming appointments, but did not alert their systems to confirmations or cancellations. After adopting a digital communications platform that facilitated new patient engagement strategies such as two-way texting, TVHC increased slot utilization by seven percent, increasing revenue by roughly $1 million.

Automating message delivery systems also maximizes the value of existing telehealth investments. Houston Methodist demonstrated this when they coordinated a massive surge in virtual care visits during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of an innovative communication platform, the practice created a virtual waiting room for touchless patient intake, calibrating engagement strategies to the pressures of the time.

Using these innovative tools to connect better with your healthcare consumers increases your health system’s availability, accessibility, and convenience. With these foundations in place, patient engagement reliably improves.

Making information sharable

Another key shift in the world of healthcare is the notion of developing a longitudinal plan for care. Rather than working independently, care providers and communication management agencies now work hand in hand to ensure patients receive consistent recommendations and support throughout their care journey.

Proven communication management systems such as WELL create ideal platforms through which physicians and their patients can share plans, goals, and support information.

Case in point: Cedars-Sinai wanted their patients’ health information to become more accessible. So they shifted patient engagement strategies and used WELL to send a patient portal link out twice: once after scheduling an appointment, then a follow-up two days before the visit. Within just five months of sending the portal link through WELL, overall portal enrollment shot up by 19 percent.

Opening accessibility within a unified location enables healthcare providers to observe plans, track patient progress, and provide consistent patient messaging. Choose a communication hub that syncs real-time with your EHR to keep yourself updated with appointment status and patient details. It should also deliver multilingual, conversational messaging to each of your patient’s preferred channels for an unmatched experience.

High time to adopt systems around your patients’ needs

Healthcare consumerization has given rise to a new generation of patients who now act like consumers, asserting their needs and choosing providers that can meet them. Enable concrete patient engagement strategies by adopting the right healthcare tools.

Contact WELL Health today to see how a full-solution communication hub can help you offer and provide truly modern medical appointments. ♥

Patient-Friendly, Modern Medical Appointments: What Do They Look Like?

For the modern healthcare provider, patient satisfaction is paramount.

Optimizing the patient experience means offering modern medical appointments that meet the expectations of the contemporary healthcare consumer.

What makes a medical appointment “modern”? Providers need to move beyond an outmoded model of care, where a patient phones the health center, sits on hold, gets an appointment, sits in the waiting room, fills out forms on pen and paper, and so on. Research shows that modern healthcare consumers are very open to using intelligent technologies and innovative approaches to data-sharing. When it comes to online medical appointment scheduling, and in many other areas, modern medical appointments share a number of defining features:

They focus on improving consumers’ convenience.

Modern medical appointments are shaped by what modern patients actually want: forms of communication that mirror their normal lives. This shift is driven in part by the consumerization of healthcare, which is raising patient expectations around convenience. Patients want their healthcare to slot into their existing technology and behavior patterns; they don’t want to be forced to adapt to a dated set of systems.

Having an online medical appointment system is a key step toward improving convenience for healthcare consumers. Nearly 70 percent of patients switch healthcare providers in search of more convenience. Providers must consider improving and simplifying all manner of patient tasks through online medical appointment scheduling.

In the era of COVID-19, increasing convenience means minimizing the risk of contagion with technologies that offer touchless patient intake. Providers must also strive to make real-time COVID-19 information easily and rapidly available to patients. We are long past an era where most people want to phone their providers. Information must be conveniently available via the channels that modern people bias toward: text, email, etc.

They fix schedules digitally through healthcare technologies.

Modern medical appointments can be scheduled and rescheduled easily, and without picking up the phone. Patient-friendly providers leverage the power of new communication technologies to host online medical appointment scheduling functions, making the entire process accessible and convenient for all patients.

When patients are looking for an easy and streamlined patient access experience, they may ask the following questions:

  • Can I schedule my appointments online?
  • Can I manage my health information online?
  • Am I able to make my payments online?
  • Can I complete all of these from my mobile device, at my convenience?

If you are able to answer yes to these questions, then you are offering the modern medical appointments that patients want. However, if you are still relying on manual data entry, phone calls, and old systems of payment, then patients are certain to be irked.

They minimize unnecessary costs.

Modern medical appointments create benefits for providers as well as patients. How? Manual data entry not only wastes valuable time; it also opens the door to safety issues and revenue leakage. Studies show that appointment booking errors cost up to $2,000 per patient. Additionally, patient identification errors cost healthcare facilities an average of $1.5 million in revenue each year.

Adopting a technologically-driven platform improves operational efficiency. When you automate a significant volume of patient communication – from the initial touchpoint, through to treatment and record keeping – you not only improve slot utilization; you also reduce no-shows and maximize the value of your team.

By maximizing appointments and time efficiency, you will lower the cost of connecting with patients and drive increased revenue to enhance your bottom line. Keeping track of medical appointments, if not done efficiently, will potentially cost you patients. Moving toward a model of modern medical appointments will help you escape this fate.

Moreover, recent research reveals that no-shows usually signal ineffectively engaged patients, with as many as 50 percent of patient referrals never completed. Again, technologically-powered systems such as WELL can solve no-show issues by enabling seamless message delivery to coordinate virtual care.

Such systems will not only save valuable staff time and resources. They will also maximize the value of your existing telehealth investments and improve patient satisfaction. A recent report published by the WELL Data Analytics team predicted that telehealth will account for more than 15 percent of patient visits through the end of 2020. This makes it a vital necessity for providers, especially in managing an online medical appointment system now and in the future.

They include real conversations, not only basic automation.

Modern medical appointments allow companies to upgrade from executing basic automation to creating valuable conversations with patients. Platforms like WELL facilitate complex and meaningful exchanges that benefit both the patient and the care provider.

Opening up a conversation alleviates workflows, to ensure that patients can do as much as they can before they visit your care center. Such a system also recaptures more of what you might lose when completing appointments manually or through phone conversations.

In fact, empirical evidence suggests that ‘computer-mediated communication’ — principally, conversing through an electronic system — can actually become more effective and fulfilling than face-to-face communication. Modern medical appointments enable patients to converse about their care how they like.

Contact WELL Health today to see how a full-solution communication hub can help you offer and provide truly modern medical appointments. ♥

How to Improve Health Literacy Through Communication Technology

Determining how to improve health literacy among patients should be a key goal of all healthcare providers.

Patients who have precise, easy-to-use information about their health can better promote and protect their health and wellbeing. That is why health literacy has become a critical component in healthcare management.

Unfortunately, reports indicate that up to 90 percent of healthcare consumers have low health literacy. This should be a cause of great concern. Low health literacy levels can make it hard for patients to plan their appointment schedules, monitor medication, and manage chronic diseases, and more.

When providers are asking themselves how to improve health literacy, one powerful answer is communication. By leveraging cutting-edge healthcare technology to optimize patient communications, providers can rapidly boost low health literacy.

A closer look at the meaning of healthcare literacy

To improve it, you need to understand it. According to the Institute of Medicine of National Academies, health literacy is “the degree to which people can obtain, process, comprehend, and communicate basic health information and services needed so that they can make suitable decisions about their health.”

In plain English: people have access to information they can understand and do something about.

More recently, as part of the government initiative Healthy People 2030, two updated definitions relating to health literacy have been added:

a. Organizational health literacy: The degree to which healthcare providers enable healthcare consumers to access, understand, and use information and services to inform decisions related to their health and that of others.

b. Personal health literacy: The degree to which healthcare consumers can access, understand, and use information and services to inform decisions related to their health and that of others.

In other words, understanding healthcare information is not, on its own, the answer to how to improve health literacy. What is also required is enabling healthcare consumers to use such information, so that they can make well informed decisions.

Communication technologies play a central role

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 81 percent of Americans own smartphones, and over 90 percent use the internet. Another report states over 71 percent of adults have used the internet to search for health-related information. Meanwhile, over 21 percent have used some sort of technology to track their health information.

Faced with this technology reality, providers that want to improve the literacy of their patients need to embrace tools that let them meet patients on their own terms. The modern patient wants to text, not phone. They want to do things digitally, not manually.

Indeed, forward-thinking providers are now moving from ordinary health literacy to “digital health literacy.” Digital health literacy, otherwise referred to as electronic health (eHealth), refers to the ability for healthcare consumers to access, find, and use health information from digital technologies and apply the obtained knowledge to prevent, address, and solve health issues. This is where modern communication technologies come in. They have the capability to provide unified communications for health systems by integrating with providers’ EHR and patient-facing vendors.

Understanding the digital health ecosystem is vital

Health providers must understand the full breadth of the digital health ecosystem to determine how to improve health literacy. Providers need to grasp the value and function of the following:

  • Telehealth and telemedicine – Providers must adopt digitally-driven communication platforms that enable the seamless automation of message delivery. This will help coordinate virtual care, maximize technological investments’ value, save valuable time and resources, and improve patient satisfaction.
  • Mobile health – To improve health literacy, healthcare givers must be ready to deliver care through mobile means. Mobile devices, patient monitoring devices, and other ICT devices greatly help, especially where distance is a barrier to receiving care.
  • Social networks – Social media platforms are powerful tools that providers should leverage to improve both physical and mental health literacy. These platforms allow healthcare professionals to communicate health information in ways that healthcare consumers can easily understand.
  • Communication automation – By automating communication and operations, healthcare providers can enable the accessibility and usefulness of healthcare information. Automation will not only make it easy for patients to learn how to improve health literacy on their own. It will also improve slot utilization, and reduce no-shows.
  • Big data – As the volume of healthcare data grows, providers must use big data to significantly improve patient engagement and health literacy. The use of unconventional data can enable an accurate health literacy assessment. This can enable effective health promotion. Providers can obtain data from sources like social determinants of health to help them strengthen not only treatment models, but also patient education strategies.

A fully unified patient communication hub is key

A key way to drive health literacy is to recruit a fully-integrated communication hub that permits effective communication and engagement with patients. The goal is to pick the right healthcare communication platform that can handle communication, engagement, and education.

A digitally-powered communication solution such as WELL provides a two-way technological solution that unifies the full lifecycle of patient interactions.

Case in point: Vista Community Clinic grew their overall patient satisfaction to 86.4 percent after implementing WELL. MemorialCare Medical Foundation (MCMF) attributes a 35 percent clickthrough rate increase and a 25 percent conversion rate increase to the efficiency that WELL provides. Health literacy influences both patient satisfaction and engagement.

Similarly linked to health literacy is the capacity for fast and thorough correspondence. With WELL, San Ysidro Health managed to send out 226,546 messages to patients within the first 60 days of implementing the solution. As company president and CEO Kevin Mattson said, “Many of our patients use their cell phones as a lifeline during this pandemic. WELL allows us to reach our patients with essential information about COVID-19 and how to access testing and care.” Accessing this essential information is the quintessence of health literacy.

Clinicians and policymakers should be attentive of health literacy, due to its significant impact on public health, patient wellness, and providers’ success. Technology has a massive potential to improve health literacy by reducing disparities through accessible, usable, and intelligent systems. Such systems can tailor information, counseling, advice, and behavioral support to individual needs at their convenience.

For more health literacy examples and information, care providers can join Health Literacy Month and foster the importance of understandable health information.

Contact WELL Health today to see how a full-solution communication hub can help you offer and provide truly modern medical appointments. ♥

What Do Consumers Want from Healthcare?

Healthcare providers succeed when they give patients what they want. What do consumers want from healthcare? One foundational need is effective communication.

Gone are the days when a patient’s long-standing relationship with their provider was enough to keep them coming back. Today, convenience and personal preference trumps loyalty in healthcare provision. A recent healthcare consumerism study found that 80 percent of respondents want to take an active role in their health management. According to Deloitte’s 2020 Survey of US Health Care Consumers, more than half of consumers are “extremely likely” to tell their doctors when they disagree with them!

As the consumerization of healthcare is shaking up traditional delivery models, we see providers turning to digital solutions to offer greater value to healthcare consumers. It is the more exotic solutions that make the mainstream news. Self-diagnosing and health tracking technologies such as apps and wearables, augmented- and virtual-reality simulations for physician training, and therapeutic apps have all attracted media attention. However, as evidenced by the success of telemedicine during the pandemic, consumers place a high premium on a more foundational component of care: communication.

Healthcare is about people. And though patients are consumers in a busy and vibrant market, they are also human beings. As in every other area of life, when interacting with people, they want good and open communication.

Emotional connection amidst technology

What do consumers want from healthcare? Beyond the care itself, patients also expect the fulfilment of their emotional needs around health, dignity, and personal integrity. As described in a Healthcare Quarterly article, emotional support is a dimension of patient satisfaction that garners little attention in healthcare contexts, but is highly: “We need to teach providers how to maintain a caring disposition amongst all this new technology. The provider-patient transaction is still fundamentally one between human beings.”

In this context, communication plays a very fundamental role in the nourishment of the patient-provider relationship. Effective communication influences a wide array of outcomes, including: emotional health, symptoms resolution, function, pain control, and physiologic measures. Moreover, collaborative communication and decision making correlates with greater patient satisfaction and loyalty.

In the modern era, patients are welcoming a broader conversation with their primary care providers; a conversation that covers their entire wellbeing. The rise of healthcare consumerism advocates a paradigm shift from “doctor says, patient does,” towards a model that fosters a working partnership. With this shift underway, providers must enhance lines of communication.

This includes understanding how cultural differences impact decisions, and being able to modify care to align with consumers’ culture. It certainly includes being able to converse in the language most appropriate to the patient.

Without help from technology, how can providers possibly respond to the communication needs of the modern patient? As technologies are advancing in other sectors, consumers want and expect the same in healthcare. If you can book a flight with your smartphone, why not a doctor’s appointment?

Adopting working communication solutions

Providers need to embrace communication solutions for healthcare that are simpler, pleasant, convenient, and more productive. Providers should facilitate this at the point of patients’ research, scheduling, intake, as well as a follow-up treatment. Expanding healthcare consumers’ digital connection to providers provides not only convenience but also personalization of care.

We have observed the success of this approach firsthand at WELL. We offer an efficient hub that connects patients and healthcare providers through mechanisms such as phone, text, email and live chat. A provider can switch between automated messages and real-time interactions, to deliver information the way their consumers want.

The net impact of a platform like WELL is that:
Patients can communicate more swiftly and more conveniently.
They can communicate where, when, and using the technology that they want.
Providers can easily create personalized messages.
Providers can also reach and treat patients in their own language, enhancing the ability of a provider to show maximal cultural sensitivity.

WELL provides superior last-mile patient communication

Many healthcare providers and consumers are experiencing how the WELL hub gives consumers the communication they want.

The staff of Santa Monica Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Group (SMOG) immediately noticed significant improvement in their patient response after implementing WELL. A high number of unsolicited individual patient comments came in, with comments raving about the enhancement in service quality. Live call responses have also increased to 85 percent from a previous 50, while call volume dropped by 20 percent.

For the Vista Community Clinic in Southern California, overall patient satisfaction has climbed to 86.4 percent. “They love it! It’s one of those things that, if it went away, I think we would have very unhappy patients,” Michelle Monroe, the practice’s COO, said of WELL. Meanwhile, ALTURA Centers for Health has seen a 22-percent decrease in no-shows, a 10 percent increase in appointment confirmations, and doubled patient satisfaction rates.

All of these positive outcomes are the result of giving consumers one of the key things they want from healthcare: powerful and nourishing communication.

“It has become a lot easier to confirm appointments, as well as leave feedback afterwards,” said a patient at Columbia Pain and Spine Institute. The practice has received overwhelming positive reviews.

Giving patients the communication they want

The rise of consumerism in healthcare has forced industry players to adopt differentiation strategies to trigger competitiveness in the market. When asking themselves “What do consumers want from healthcare?”, providers need to start with the foundational human factor of communication.

This means tapping into other ways of communication other than phone and email. Use text updates and reminders, adopt telehealth technologies to advance patient engagement, and leverage patient-generated health data to enhance visibility into patients’ wellbeing. All of these communication strategies deliver a desirable healthcare experience for consumers.

Contact WELL Health today to see how a full-solution communication for healthcare can help you and your patients. ♥

Adapting to the Consumerization of Healthcare

The ongoing consumerization of healthcare is shifting expectations around how people access and receive care. Providers have to optimize the patient/customer experience if they want to stay competitive.

How the current generation views healthcare

Statistics show that the use of high-deductible health plans has risen exponentially in the last decade. Amongst other factors, this has driven the sharp rise of consumerism in healthcare, and seen patients evolve from care recipients into participants who play an active role in managing their own health.

In a survey on the consumerization of healthcare, 80 percent of the participants felt that the shift towards greater control of their healthcare was a positive thing. In short, a customer-oriented approach to American health services is not going away. And modern patients want the same things from healthcare that they want from other consumer products: convenience, value and innovation.

This shift toward a market mindset around healthcare is especially true for the younger generation, that has grown up accessing all their services online. Some of the statistics here are staggering. A 2019 study shows that 92% of consumers under 35 go online to find healthcare providers. Even before they reach a doctor’s room, 80 percent of consumers say that they “research most of their diagnosis online.” Any provider who is still offering care on the same terms they were in 1995 is setting themselves up for trouble.

An online-first approach to healthcare has combined with also a consumerist, selective approach to healthcare. The result is that today’s patients are happy to shop around. This is one reason why 24% of millennials don’t have a primary care doctor. Patients now take their time to compare services, assessing convenience, cost, and availability before deciding where to access healthcare.

How can providers respond to the demands of this savvy patient? By following other industries, and leveraging digital platforms in order to enhance the patient/consumer experience.

Disruptive technologies and the consumerization of healthcare

The market has responded to consumer demand for healthcare innovations. This has been visible in the entry of non-traditional players and disruptive technologies in healthcare. Companies such as Amazon and Apple use big data and AI to put critical health information in consumers’ hands (and on consumers’ wrists), with the use of phone apps and wearable devices. CVS is pushing new standards of convenience in healthcare, by connecting patients with primary care physicians, simplifying payments, and offering fast home pharmaceutical deliveries.

One of the most disruptive technologies in healthcare is telehealth, which recently took the spotlight because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Data reveals the volume of telehealth visits increased by 50x between February and April 2020 for some health systems. The data further suggests telehealth will continue to account for 15 percent of total visits through the end of 2020.

What does the boom in telehealth tell us? That patients value communication. A lot. They want to be able to interface with providers on their own terms, in a way that is convenient to them. Given this trajectory, traditional players have no choice but to adopt more customer-focused communication approaches. Key to this aspiration is the embracing of innovations in patient communication technology.

Communication is key to differentiation strategies in healthcare

When it comes to communication, healthcare ranks poorly with consumers.

According to a recent survey, over three-quarters of consumers believe that they should be receiving the same level of communication services in healthcare that they receive when encountering other industries. Specifically, they want the experience to be convenient, responsive, and digitally enabled.

Healthcare consumers are looking for a customized service. From when they make inquiries, to when they receive treatment and subsequent follow-ups, they want the care to be convenient for them.

Communication solutions for healthcare like WELL are powerful ways for providers to respond to the consumerization of healthcare and achieve outcomes like these. WELL enables healthcare organizations to communicate with patients via text, email, phone, and live chat. Providers report better client engagement, reduced no-shows and call volumes, and improved care coordination.

Sansum Clinic, for example, was looking for a better way to engage patients and get feedback. Within three months of using WELL, no-show rates dropped by 19 percent, and appointment confirmations rose by 27 percent. 360 Orthopedics saw an impressive 208 percent ROI with WELL when their no-show rate dropped to less than three percent—half of the industry average.

Another one of the effective differentiation strategies in healthcare that WELL can facilitate is streamlining payment collection. New Mexico Orthopaedics pulled this off by integrating their patient communication platform with SwervePay, allowing patients to pay with ease. Adoption grew quickly, and now, 17 percent of NMO patients pay their copays in advance.

Optimized patient communication is the future of healthcare

Over the last two decades, technology and digital innovations have disrupted almost every industry in the US. eCommerce innovations like Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb have succeeded in empowering the consumer. This power translates to information and choices. And as the pandemic made abundantly clear, providers need digital solutions to enable a satisfying experience for modern patients.

Communication solutions for healthcare like WELL are a powerful way for providers to respond to the consumerization of healthcare and offer the kind of care that patients actually want. The rise of consumerism in healthcare has made patients very discerning. They now utilize digital technology to access healthcare and achieve the power that innovation provides. Health providers can, as a response, enhance the customer experience through embracing digital communication solutions.

Contact WELL Health today to see how a full-solution communication for healthcare can help you and your patients. ♥

Get Started

Find out how WELL’s enterprise communication hub can make it easy to engage patients for world-class clinical and administrative experience.