Addressing the Rise and Fall of Health Care Consumerism Through Technology

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Accompanied by the high-deductible health plans and cost sharing models, consumerism has been steadily on the rise in the healthcare industry. Hospitals that are able to successfully handle these challenges may be in a better position to stay financially viable in a period when competitive pricing and patient satisfaction can make or break a hospital’s chances of succeeding. Rising costs, combined with smaller margins and inpatient volumes have contributed to hospitals’ financial crisis. “Hospitals are now measured by patient experience, and with insurers planning to tie more payments to quality in the coming years, the importance of engagement will only heighten in 2016,” said Michael Archuleta, IT Director at MT. San Rafael Hospital. “Healthcare has changed from what is convenient for the provider to what’s convenient for the consumer. That overall rebranding has made a massive change.”

Mt. San Rafael Hospital is a small critical access hospital in a rural community. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas.1 Rural residents tend to be older, have lower incomes, and are more likely to be uninsured than residents in metropolitan areas. Additionally, older population is usually slower to adopt new technology.

The Problem:

Mt. San Rafael Hospital was not meeting the Meaningful Use Stage 2 threshold of 5 percent VDT (view, download, transmit). They needed to extend reach outside of the care setting in order to remain competitive and they also wanted to improve their user experience.

The Solution:

Archuleta and his team came up with a P.I.P.E. strategy (combining patient improvement and patient experience) to increase the overall experience of their patients.

“In the new world of healthcare, consumerism technology and data analytics have been a center stage in determining the efficiency of patient engagement,” Archuleta explained further. “Understanding healthcare consumers requires organizations like Mt. San Rafael to have comprehensive information about its patients medical and nonmedical records, including nontraditional data from social media and wearable technology.”

Archuleta attributes Mt. San Rafael’s success to adopting new technology concepts and bringing in an advocacy program, “We live in an age of digital health. It is time that we see technology as a business-centered process to improve the overall success of any organization. Morphing into a technical brand was a key element that resulted in the success of our organization.”

But technology is not the only element that can make this transition successful, creating an advocacy program is one of the most impactful things an organization can do to build meaningful relationships and engage with their patients, and empower word-of-mouth both online and offline. According to a study, modernizing the patient experience can boost revenue up to 16 percent.

To succeed its goals, Mt. San Rafael chose YourCareUniverse for its technology and patient -centered approach. “Its robust technology and comprehensive provider tools have greatly supported our culture of proactive interactions between Mt. San Rafael Hospital, and all the markets we serve, helping to make our hospital a source of guidance and trust in our community.” Said Archuleta.

Mt. San Rafael’s consumers have embraced its new virtual behaviors, allowing the hospital to better manage its patients’ needs and expectations while maximizing ability to implement cost controls.

In order for its advocacy program to be successful, Mt. San Rafael Hospital took on many initiatives including but not limited to:

  • Crafting an intense training program for front-line staff to educate them on the patient portal and the benefits it can bring
  • Installing in-hospital kiosks for patients to register to the portal on-site, as they have a large audience without internet
  • Deploying a mobile kiosk so patients can register from their hospital bed
  • Establishing a 24/7 IT support availability in case of questions
  • Distributing documentation about patient education materials as part of discharge

Additionally, Mt. San Rafael employed several different promotional tactics including:

  • Posters with QR codes leading to patient portal registrations
  • Table tents
  • Rack cards
  • Giveaways
  • Social media campaigns.
  • Email campaigns after patient portal enrollment

By implementing these strategic changes, Mt. San Rafael’s patient portal traffic increased by more than 40 percent. “It’s been a huge success for us, we rarely see these numbers especially in smaller critical access hospitals.” Said Archuleta.

In addition, Mt. San Rafael hospital has become one of the leading critical access hospitals in the state of Colorado by becoming 99 percent (up from 79 percent) virtualized within their infrastructure and by reducing cost by 56 percent. It is the first critical access hospital in state to be a part of the Health Information Exchange Program.

YourCareUniverse is an integrated, cloud-based solution for managing the digital patient and supporting the consumer in a way that enables a healthcare organization to be the trusted source of health information and services within its community. This offering can change how clinicians and hospital leaders work and communicate. Generating notable operational and revenue improvement opportunities, while increasing physician satisfaction, YourCareUniverse helps create a better patient experience and cultivate a loyal customer base. Our analytics offering cannot only help find answers to the questions providers have, but also identifies the questions they need to be asking, and can help drive the right kind of volume to facilities.

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