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How Scheduling Capabilities Can Help Community Hospitals Evolve

Nurse holding hands with a young patient

Picture this: A patient visits a physician at their community hospital. During that visit the physician decides that patient needs to see a specialist. If the provider can't connect their patient with the right options for care in their network—and simplify the appointment scheduling process—the patient is likely to take matters into their own hands. Often that means going out of network, and in the worst-case scenario, an out of network specialist in a big city health system.

How can this community hospital help the patient receive the care they need and reduce the likelihood of patient leakage?

As the on-going consumerization of healthcare empowers patient choice, prioritizing the patient experience becomes paramount. Adopting tools designed to help patients navigate their next steps are a big part of meeting this industry shift.

Why Consider a Scheduling Platform?

Scheduling platforms allow providers and hospitals to immediately search availability, schedule appointments, and confirm services for patients. By connecting patients to convenient resources, community hospitals can help address patient leakage.

Many of the problems facing community hospitals are considerable and out of their control. Shifting reimbursement models and regulatory restrictions contribute to the healthcare crisis facing rural communities.

To date,  the University of North Carolina’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research reports that there have been 87 rural hospital closures since January 2010. In addition, the National Rural Health Association says that roughly one in three community hospitals across the country are in danger of shutdown.

However, these hospitals do have the power to evolve internally to help ensure their doors remain open.

Part of that evolution is to employ tools that are basic in any other consumer-facing experience. Imagine paying for a haircut at your hair salon or getting your oil changed at the car dealership. One of the ways they optimize the customer experience and ensure a return visit is simplifying scheduled visits.

To ward off the threat of patient leakage, web-based scheduling platforms streamline the appointment process and, in turn, create a more convenient experience for the patient.

Hospitals, providers, and consumers should all have the freedom to schedule and request services based on their needs. Each part of the process should be highly-visible and adaptive, from patients to clinics to hospitals, from services to referrals.

To retain patients, and attract new ones, improved care coordination can simultaneously refocus attention on the patient experience and stall the danger of patient leakage.

Imagine the potential of scheduling services that could also allow hospitals, physicians, or clinics to directly manage facility transfers, surgery requests, clinical orders, or Emergency Department wait queues.

Scheduling solutions, like those discussed above, empower patient choice and match the rises in consumerization occurring throughout healthcare. For providers, a single system scheduling solution represents a long-term investment that can help drive patient loyalty and work to increase revenue by consolidating the entire process.

A scheduling platform, like YourCare ContinuumTM, enables more efficient care coordination and can work as a competitive differentiator for the community hospital.

Discover how MEDHOST’s YourCare Continuum's solution can empower patients in your community and transform your healthcare enterprise.

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