When Digital Patient Access Improves Healthcare

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A new patient walks into your practice, sits down, and starts tapping into their mobile phone. Within three minutes, they’ve checked in for their appointment and submitted a co-pay or even paid an outstanding balance. Before long, they’re greeted by name and welcomed back into an exam room.

This process is quick and practically inaudible — unless their phone makes a sound as they’re snapping a photo of their insurance card or ID. While you might not feel like you’ve witnessed anything dramatic in this brief event, I can’t stop getting excited about it.

At the Center of Healthcare Technology

Currently, two key terms immediately resonate with our customers when we talk about the capabilities of technology in healthcare, and those terms are “patient-centric” and “digital patient access.”

“Patient-centric” connects to the idea that healthcare leaders must put the patient at the center of healthcare delivery, as the outcome of the patient experience is a business need, as much as any other. When we see and embrace the patient as a consumer, we develop healthcare delivery methods that align with the patient’s perception of healthcare as a market. The patients’ demand for seamless, technology-supported interactions forces healthcare practices forward into a digital environment where progress and competitiveness become exponential.

“Patient access” points to practices inviting patients to get involved in their treatment while allowing patients to interact, often outside of office hours. They can electronically pre-register for appointments, find providers, schedule visits, and so on. The benefits of digital patient access are related to a practice’s market share, patient acquisition, patient autonomy, and the consumer’s perception of a practice’s efficiency.

At present, these two terms are regularly brought up in industry news and presented in meetings about the future of healthcare. They represent a greater paradigm shift in healthcare, where the empowered patient at the center benefits patient experience and outcome — while promoting a more efficient business model.

“They represent a greater paradigm shift in healthcare, where the empowered patient at the center benefits patient experience and outcome — while promoting a more efficient business model.”

Two Converging Lanes

But in mobile healthcare technology, patient-centric and digital patient access come together perfectly.

Technology vendors love mobile solutions for the obvious reason that people already carry their phones around all day long and sleep with them next to their heads. Furthermore, solutions that grant new access via your mobile phone are not a hard sell to the average consumer. And solutions that only make healthcare visits faster and more efficient also don’t take much convincing.

I get excited about a patient checking in for a medical visit via mobile because it represents the essence of connected health. In connected health, a patient can access a provider, and a provider can access integrated information systems for centralized, streamlined, and incredibly productive care. It allows the patient to use familiar technology that’s already in their pocket. It can eliminate paperwork, wait times, and surface contact. The patient has a personalized and self-reliant experience that they appreciate, while facilitating better workflows and more accurate data for the practice.

We’ve reached a point where people agree that checking in at a doctor’s office should and can be as easy as checking in for a movie or a flight. What it represents on a larger scale, however, is integrated healthcare that equally supports provider and patient.

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