On a recent trip to visit a customer, I flew on a major carrier that I had not been on for quite some time. As I sat waiting for my flight to board, the gate agent proceeded to identify a seemingly never-ending list of passenger categories for boarding prioritization. On this airline it was not just families with small children, people needing extra time to board, and active service military. To these well-deserved priority groups, this airline added holders of more than one affiliated credit card and a mine of precious metal-themed frequent flyer categories.
Then came the boarding process itself. Complicating the organization challenge, passengers were directed to two different queues for boarding. After all the “priority” levels were through, it seemed like more than half the plane had already boarded. I had to wonder how much energy and cost was put into training thousands of passenger-facing airline personnel to learn the messaging and the protocols and how much time was added to the overall boarding process. While no doubt the “priority” levels are well intentioned, the entire process was subverted by its own earnestness considering the added time, complexity and, ultimately, the dilution of the original concept of prioritization.
So what does all this have to do with connecting with your patient panel?
Your patient panel is waiting to board their next engagement with your practice. Some should be preparing for a visit but are not aware of the importance. Some perhaps you see more than necessary. Today the “journey” can be by virtual visit through a technology platform like the Hello Health® system or via a traditional in-person office visit scheduled through your electronic health record (EHR). Regardless of the type of visit, who “boards” next?
Appointment schedules routinely get populated passively as patients contact a practice to schedule their visit. In this way, boarding is “passenger directed”. But an EHR platform with an advanced search function helps physicians to identify those appointments that need to be made above and beyond the regular inflow. Practices can search by gender, age, medical condition, allergies, procedures, and combinations of these criteria to quickly capture patient cohorts. Suddenly a practice can reach into its patient panel to organize outreach that can guide when they want to hear from the patient, receive an update on their activities, or see them for an appointment. The power of an EHR that transforms the view of a patient panel from a crowded file room and this week’s appointment schedule to a minable patient database ready for proactive management by a practice is significant. Who should board next? Who are our priorities? The information is just a few mouse clicks away.
It's a new level of connectivity that is like giving your patients a service upgrade to first class.
Stephen Armstrong is senior vice president for Hello Health, the revenue generating EHR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement.