The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated healthcare digital initiatives, but the ability to keep up with patient-initiated appointment scheduling and other digital options continues to lag. A new report from Kyruus, The State of Digital
Patient Access: A Look at How the Top 20 US Health Systems Enable, highlights how options for patients to find and scheduled care online continues to be challenging for many hospitals.
Kyruus assessed the top 20 hospitals in the U.S. based on U.S. News & World Report rankings, and analyzed categories including medical self-service booking and scheduling capabilities to determine areas of strength and opportunities for improvement when it comes to digital patient access and engagement.
The finding show that health care providers need to focus on the end-to-end consumer experience, with the ability to find care online, book an appointment and prepare for it with ease, according to the analysis.
Roughly 25% of health systems have virtual assistants or chatbots, Kyruus found, though they are considered highly helpful to patients. More than half display clear and embedded calls to action that prompt consumers to do things like book appointments online or call a number to schedule one. While many also have mobile apps for existing patients, just over a third have apps through which new patients can find or schedule care without creating an account.
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In an interview with Fierce Healthcare, Scott Andrews, general manager of health systems at Kyruus, stated that “health organizations lean too heavily on their electronic medical records (EMRs). Because EMRs collect and compile data, they naturally can facilitate a portal for existing patients. But EMRs are not equipped to help with digital patient access preferences.”
The report claims that nearly 50% of consumers want to book medical appointments online, and more than half would switch providers just to have the option. But less than half of health systems offer this capability to new patients within their find-a-provider tool. Even less offer online scheduling for non-provider services like imaging.
We agree that such flexibility is “a key differentiator for health systems online,” as Kyruus noted in its report.