The findings in the 2023 edition of the “Top of Mind for Top Health Systems” report from the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM) and KLAS Research seem clear. Patient access is top of mind for health system leaders as an area ripe for improvement.
With margins still in the red for many health systems, improving access makes sense. Patient care drives revenue, and many patients have been slow to get back in for needed care. COVID drove a shift in patient expectations, and that is proving challenging as well. Patients want easy access 24/7 and they aren’t interested in waiting on hold.
According to the report, “The challenge of improving patient access is once again the primary focus of this report, given its importance at many health systems and potential impact on so many other priorities. If you can’t get patients in the door, does it really matter what you’re doing with other technology?”
When asked, “What problem in health care has the greatest potential to be improved with digital health technology and innovation?” the top answer was patient access. When asked, “What area of health care technology has seen the greatest progress or improvement in the last two years?” the answer was telehealth. The two are strongly tied as patients continue to be interested in more options for access like virtual care.
The report notes that, “In this report, patient access is defined as technology that helps patients access and receive health care in an effective, convenient, secure way — for example, self-scheduling, telehealth, remote patient monitoring, bill pay, and price transparency technology.”
It goes on to provide a handful of key findings:
Organizations’ strategic structure around patient access is beginning to change. A handful of organizations even have specific executive-level roles to oversee patient access strategy.
Most organizations use cross-functional teams or departments to determine their patient access strategy.
Telehealth, patient portals, and patient appointment reminders are the patient access technologies most often implemented by health care organizations.
Patient portals are seen as strong, effective tools for patients. Self-scheduling is a high priority for patients but currently falls short in effectiveness.
Health care leaders feel people and process challenges around patient access both outweigh technology.
One thing that seems to be missing in the report, is the discussion around how patients access the tools. While it notes that process and people outweigh technology, the fact is that most patients today say they want a single platform to manage their healthcare. Offering these tools via the web or through multiple apps create a poor experience for patients.
Healthcare organizations should be thinking about the way they deliver the access experience. A single mobile platform that offers a premium experience similar to what people have in other areas of their lives, can drive high engagement and reuse. The right patient-facing healthcare app can handhold patients through finding care, scheduling, and navigating to that care as well as providing access to the portal and other critical tools for engagement.
About the Survey The Top of Mind 2023 research project included two surveys. First, an initial survey was administered to health care executives and leaders for their responses to the following questions: (1) What problem in health care has the greatest potential to be improved with digital health technology and innovation? (2) What area of health care technology has seen the greatest progress or improvement in the last two years? (3) What do you see as the most exciting emerging technology in the next two years? A total of 53 respondents participated in the initial survey. Results of this first survey are shown in the previous section. The second, more in-depth evaluation focused on the top responses from the prior survey and was conducted via phone. Researchers asked both quantitative and qualitative questions to gather further insights into health system leaders’ highest technology priorities and to learn how technology trends are impacting health care organizations’ strategies. A total of 61 leaders from 59 health systems across the United States participated in the second survey. Findings from this evaluation are shared in the following pages.