By Jim Higgins, Solutionreach
The shift toward value-based healthcare means providers are taking a look at their practices and reassessing their priorities. The focus for these providers has shifted to improving the quality of the care they provide and how their care impacts patient outcomes. Most providers already place an emphasis on patient outcomes, but in order to be reimbursed for their Medicare patients, they must also track their efforts and depending on the program they follow, report on metrics such as patient satisfaction, improving care coordination, and other patient behaviors or outcomes.
Tracking those measures can feel like one more task providers must add to their to-do lists. But with the right patient relationship management (PRM) software, some these tasks don’t have to be difficult to accomplish. Tools such as targeted patient education, automated appointment reminders, and patient surveys can help providers track their metrics, improve their practice, and in turn, patient outcomes.
One of the biggest challenges providers face is getting patients to make and keep their appointments. Appointment reminders are something most practices try to accomplish every day, but if done manually, the task can take too much time. Manual phone calls usually result in voice messages that may or may not be heard in time to make a difference, and postcards aren’t a reliable method either. Automating these reminders is the best way to ensure the task is completed every day. Patient communication software allows each patient to choose how they would like to receive reminders, via text, email, or phone call, and then ensures every patient is reminded of every appointment. If patients receive the reminder via the communication method they prefer, they are more likely to see it and show up for their appointment.
Automated reminders aren’t just for scheduled appointments. These reminders can also help patients keep up with their follow-up care. Keeping track of which patients need to be seen again and manually contacting is another time-consuming task, and it can be easy for patients to be overlooked. PRM software can track when a patient is overdue for an appointment and automatically send reminders to schedule at intervals set by the provider.
Keeping patients on track and showing up for their appointments is key to improving patient outcomes. If patients are staying on top of their care and coming in for regular visits, providers can help manage their care and see better results.
Keeping patients current with their scheduled appointments is great, but providers also need to focus on engaging patients between visits. Segmenting a patient population and sending relevant educational material to each patient can have multiple benefits for practices looking to track and report their quality of care.
Targeted education improves patient outcomes by encouraging them stay on top of their prescribed care plan. For example, providing diabetes-friendly recipes to diabetic patients, or tips for older patients to stay active can help patients to follow the recommendations from their providers between visits. Other educational material about the importance of follow-up visits and preventative care or the reasons why it is important to take medications as prescribed can keep patients on track with care plans. Not only do patients receive motivation from their providers to stay healthy between visits, but they also learn valuable techniques for doing so, helping them see better outcomes and increasing their likelihood of staying current with their care.
Another common metric providers must track is patient satisfaction. Patient communication software provides simple ways for providers to send patient surveys and track the results. Surveys can be customized, both in the questions they ask and in the patients who receive them. For example, providers can create a survey with questions about the patient experience, and how patients would rate their satisfaction with the practice. Just like educational outreach can be targeted to only those patients who will benefit from it, a survey can be targeted as well. Providers can create a group of Medicare patients or diabetes patients, and only send the survey to the patients in that group. PRM software also makes it easy to analyze the survey results, so providers can see areas where they are doing well and where they can improve. Sending these surveys often, and making changes to the practice based on the results can help providers improve the satisfaction of patients and easily report accurate patient satisfaction metrics.
The transition to value-based reimbursement doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Most providers have already been working to improve the patient experience and help patients achieve better outcomes. Now they are just being asked to track those efforts. With the right patient communication solution and strategy, providers can track their efforts without spending extra time, and continue to focus on improving the health and outcomes of their patients.