Elevating Patient Access and the Consumer Experience

Yale New Haven Health/Yale Medicine and Tampa General Hospital leaders discuss improving consumer experience business models to transform the patient journey.

The healthcare landscape has been turned upside-down by a whirlwind of paradigm changes brought by nontraditional competitors, vertically integrated conglomerates, changing patient care modalities, breakthrough medical and digital health technologies, and new value-based reimbursement models.

Standing out among all those changes is the complete transformation of consumer expectations. People ask why healthcare can’t be more like Amazon or Apple or other prominent consumer retail or tech giants when it comes to customer service. The answer is it can—but it’s much harder to do.

Several healthcare leaders who have chosen to make improving patient access and elevating the consumer experience a primary focus of their business model have shared lessons learned in a Trailblazers report published in Market Scan—a C-suite newsletter issued by the American Hospital Association’s Center for Health Innovation that covers healthcare transformation, innovation, and disruption topics.


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“Transforming consumer access is no longer an optional initiative for health systems,” said Kristin Greenstreet, a Guidehouse partner who works with health systems to overcome their consumer experience and access challenges. “The ability to grow market share, reduce leakage, improve capacity, optimize revenue, and enhance consumer brand loyalty is reliant on enterprisewide change.”

The report explores how the journey to improving patient access begins. To succeed in this space requires 24/7 omnichannel access that gives individuals what they need at that moment and exceeds their customer service expectations. Adopting consumer experience as the end-to-end, top-to-bottom core value of the organization makes that possible.

Two of the health systems that Guidehouse has advised along this journey are featured in the report: Tampa General Hospital, a five-hospital system based in Tampa, FL, with more than 13,000 employees and 1,480 affiliated physicians; and Yale New Haven Health/Yale Medicine, which is headquartered in New Haven, CT, and has five hospitals, 30,800 employees, and 9,000 physicians across its medical group and academic medical center.

At Tampa General, disconnected technologies, variations in scheduling templates and decision trees, inefficiencies in internal communication tools, and holes in access channels all made everyone’s jobs more difficult in trying to provide consumers what they wanted at that moment. Knowing that fulfilling patient needs in a single interaction with the health system results in increased quality and decreased costs, leaders set out to transform its siloed, fragmented customer service delivery.

The result was its enterprisewide Experience Center, which handles 30,000 calls each week. In just over a year, the system has realized a 75% increase in available appointments online, a 47% increase in appointments scheduled online, and a 20% decrease in appointment no-show rates.
“This is a fundamental shift in how we look at engaging patients and seeing that through the lens of other industries that have figured this out and do it really well,” said Tampa General Hospital President and CEO John Couris.

For Yale New Haven Health/Yale Medicine, having an enviable clinical reputation buoyed by its affiliation with Yale University and its medical school meant there was heavy patient demand for services—but that also meant lengthy patient wait times for new and follow-up appointments with primary care doctors and medical specialists.

Understanding that new market entrants were making it not only possible but likely that many patients would go elsewhere to shorten those wait times, the health system launched “Access 365.” The strategic enterprisewide initiative’s mission is to deliver a world-class consumer connection experience ensuring the right service at the right time in the right place across all ambulatory, ancillary, and inpatient services.

“Waiting is not good for anyone—not just from a service perspective but from a quality-of-care perspective as well,” said Pamela Sutton-Wallace, President, Yale New Haven Health. “We want to get patients in to care for them and ensure their well-being.”

Read the full report.

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