The primary care office visit is often the “front door” to a health system, so a positive—or negative—patient experience can have wide-ranging implications across the care continuum.  And since patients expect the same type of on-demand, one-click service from their medical providers that they receive from other industries, it’s more important than ever to provide a consumer-centric approach that provides both choice and a positive overall patient experience.

TeleTracking Product Specialist Tracy Lopez shares his insights on how the organizations that are looking to get ahead and stay ahead in the market are implementing patient experience strategies that include tools like Community Scheduling & Workflow―making it possible for patient to self-schedule, exchange text messages before and after a visit, and receive text appointment reminders reducing appointment no-shows. Health systems can automate processes such as patient satisfaction surveys and scheduling reminders, improving the healthcare consumer experience and providing the transparency that’s found in other consumer--or patient--focused industries. 

Tracy Lopez Quote

What You’ll Learn in Today’s Episode:

  • Organizations are shifting from delivering services to delivering a true, emotional, patient experience.

  • A recent survey shows that 77% of patients think that the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online is important.

  • Text message appointment reminders have replaced the traditional phone call for patients―text messages have a 98% open rate and a 45% response rate.

  • The efficiencies provided by this more streamlined communication leads to caregivers having more time to spend with their patients—and a better patient experience.

  • Surveying capabilities allow providers to proactively address any issues, review data to see what areas they can improve upon, and consequently provide true patient delight.

  • Robust reporting capabilities make it possible to monitor patient wait times, staff performance down to the individual user, and to gauge if the service level goals that have been set by the health system are being met.

  • It can cost a hospital or outpatient facility five times more to obtain a new patient than to keep an existing patient within their database. That's why a positive patient experience is so important to patient retention―the loss of a patient's lifetime value is not something providers or health systems want to give up easily.

Listen Time - 10:18 minutes


Delivery of Service vs Emotional Experience 1:20
Convenience of Text Communication 2:15
Evolution of the Patient Experience 4:30
Impact of PCP Experience on Overall Health System 6:10

More about this episode

About the Expert

Tracy LopezTracy Lopez

TeleTracking Product Specialist

Tracy has nearly 20 years of sales, field training and management experience, and has spent most of the last decade in the ambulatory space. His diverse background encompasses ambulatory EMRs, imaging, patient experience and outpatient access and flow. Tracy joined TeleTracking from Jellyfish Health where he was responsible for new sales and marketing strategy related to patient self-scheduling. Prior to Jellyfish, he held commercial roles with NextGen Healthcare, Konica Minolta, Greenway Medical Technologies, and Ricoh Americas Healthcare.

View Transcript

Welcome to Patient Flow podcast powered by TeleTracking. On today’s episode TeleTracking’s Susan McLaughlin meets Tracy Lopez, product specialist for Community Scheduling & Workflow at TeleTracking. To get started, Tracy talks about how healthcare is impacted by the changing on-demand culture precipitated by Amazon. Let’s listen in.

Tracy Lopez: Really what we're seeing is a more consumer based model that allows patients to have more choices, and we're also discovering that organizations are starting to look and get ahead of the market by implementing customer experience strategies that include, we call our Tele-five pillars. And those are really inclusive of engagements, an engagement piece that allow consumers to self-schedule, to the overall patient experience of text messaging before and during the visit, that really provides the transparency that consumers find in every other industry. Again, the goal being a positive customer experience with every interaction, and each patient touchpoint.

So I always kind of refer to some of these statistics because I think they're always very valuable to share with everyone, to kind of get their mind wrapped around the gravity of what is going on in the marketplace. So, a recent survey shows that about 77% of patients think that the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online is important, and really better than 60% of patients are going to be able to book their own medical appointments by 2019. So, there's a really lot of market opportunity for our organization. So, we're finding that organizations are making a shift from a delivery of services, to a new sector that includes, what I call a true emotional experience, I would say much like coming out of Disney World, people don't come out of Disney talking about the service that they had. They actually come out talking about the experience they had, if that makes sense to you?

Susan: Oh, definitely. And Tracy, you touched on text messages. Can you talk about, just the fact that people, a patient, doesn't have to pick up the phone if they can't make an appointment or if they have a question. If you can share how just being able to communicate via text message, how much more convenient that is, and sort of on a related note, how big of a problem are no-shows for health systems and how Community Scheduling and Workflow can help alleviate that problem.

Tracy Lopez: Yeah, no, absolutely. And as patient populations continue to change, as I was saying, and to adapt to different types of communication, text messaging has really replaced the traditional phone call for the next generation of patients, which are the Millennials, and surprisingly enough, Baby Boomers as well. And in saying that, a recent study shows that text messages have about a 98% open rate, while email only has about a 20% open rate. Plus, text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email again has only about a 6% response rate. So you can really see the differences in terms of the trends of where the market is going.

And again, the speed of responses is also important as text messages typically have a response time of about 90 seconds, versus an email response time of about two and a half days. So think about the overall impact to a medical facility or health system, in regards to these types of information, or this type of information I should say, being able to get relayed out and back and forth to the particular system. Additionally, research is showing today that text messaging is really about the most pervasive form of communication, as it provides that prompt, quick response times on a platform that's easy and accessible. The benefit again, is retaining patients to ensure continued engagement in a client's health system.

To answer that secondary piece of that question, really where we can come in and help with the perspective from Community and Scheduling Workflow, is that we can provide more time for our clients and their patients, and give everyone really the time that they deserve. As far as no-shows, rates in healthcare, these rates can really range from 10% to over 50%, depending on the specialty provider. Our based on constant communication, with text messaging and giving consumers options to self-schedule and reschedule, we found that we can drastically start to reduce those percentages, and provide the type of experience patients are looking for, and also impact positive new revenue, to our clients as well.

Susan: Tracy, patient experience, that means something different to everyone. Can you discuss how the evolution capabilities of Community Scheduling and Workflow, make it possible for patients to share their thoughts, and for providers to then solve the strategic challenges related to their organization's patient experience goals?

Tracy Lopez: Yeah, absolutely. That's a great point. In fact, often when we speak to our clients, they've got real varying differences with patient experience perspectives. In fact, part of our application lend itself to the voice of what I call, the consumer. Again, going back to almost every other industry, consumers are used to expressing either their pleasure, or dissatisfaction with services or experiences. The major difference with our survey, that it can be instantly sent to a patient, as soon as they leave a health system, thereby allowing for instant feedback, and more importantly, giving a health facility the ability to take immediate action, and the ability to call that patient to address that concern. Again, proactive steps, prior to the consumer displaying their dissatisfaction on social media, or prior to receiving their HCAHPS or Press Ganey surveys, through the mail, which oftentimes, are 30 days after that particular visit.

The value to the providers is that they can review data to see what areas they can improve upon, to provide true patient delight. You can take these surveys even further by allowing a health system to provide social media links at the end of the survey, so in the event that they had a great experience, they can post immediately to social media. So whatever our clients decide, their star rating is, we will only post a star rating that meet that specific requirement. Again, going back to some survey ... or I should say some statistics, studies showed that over 41% of people said reviews on social media, would actually affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital or medical facility. So it's a prevalent challenge that's out there in the marketplace, that we are seeing.

Susan: And this ties in ... we know that the primary care physician is kind of the front door to the health system. Can you talk about how, when someone has a positive experience with their primary care physician, how that impacts the overall impression of a health system?

Tracy Lopez: Absolutely, yeah. And again, I'll refer to the choices and the ability to choose an appointment that fits the need of the consumer. We all have busy lives, and providing a patient the ability to have transparency and visibility into their provider's schedule, can satisfy the needs of a first-time patient and/or a returning patient. So that's really huge. Frankly, it can be hard for anyone to wait on hold to schedule an appointment. In fact, a lot of the things that we're finding today, is that some of these hold times can actually exceed 20 minutes, and more importantly, we're finding abandonment calls due to length of the time that a patient is willing to wait. Again, resulting in the loss of recurring and/or new revenue. So in saying this, a call center or health system's website, truly is the first step in engagement, and front door in setting patient experience expectations. Additionally, consumers will often write reviews on social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp, so now they're not just telling a couple of people, but ultimately there letting the world know their displeasure, if that makes sense to you?

Susan: Absolutely. We also know that increasingly complex care is being delivered in different types of ambulatory settings, how does Community Scheduling and Workflow address the issues that occur with silos, fragmentation, timely access inefficiency and visibility?

Tracy Lopez: Very simply said, with the ability to ensure patients are being directed to the right provider and/or specialty area. Oftentimes, a typical ER room can be flooded with patients that can be otherwise directed elsewhere, like to an urgent care, so to me Scheduling & Workflow can help provide the ability for patients to choose an urgent care and/or standalone ER. From a scheduling perspective, via that front end website, that engagement piece that we were talking about, can even provide that visibility into the actual wait times of how quickly they can be seen. Again, lessening that burden on the typical acute space ER. And just as important to many, Scheduling Workflow can actually provide robust reporting not only on the patient wait times, but also staff performance, down to the individual user, to gauge if they're meeting service level goals that have been set by the health system.

Susan: So it really helps them maximize already limited resources, and get the best productivity.

Tracy Lopez: Yeah, absolutely.

Susan: Tracy, Healthcare Dive recently featured a story on the NRC Health 2019, healthcare consumer trends report. And in that report it shared how patients want more from providers than just good care. They also want ease, convenience and choice. What are your thoughts on that, and your experience as you collaborate with providers?

Tracy Lopez: Yeah, that's really a great question, and the more we speak and consult with providers, they're really starting to understand that the world of healthcare is changing, and their patients are more consumer focused, and that there is a lot of patient frustration, and social media has made it a lot easier to vent those types of frustrations, and more publicly disclose a those types of frustrations to everyone, So whether it's backed up schedules, or wait times, or other bottlenecks our Community Scheduling application can help provider's staff manage those pieces, that typically they can't. So, and again, of course losing one of those patients, if in fact they do because of those challenges, is different per facility and/or health system.

But some of our research really suggests and shows that it can cost the hospital and/or an outpatient facility, about five times more to obtain a new patient, then to keep an existing patient within their database. That's why patient retention is so important, and the overall loss of a patient's lifetime value is not something providers or health systems really want to give up. So in total, we see this as a huge challenge for people to look at, and why patient experience and the patient journey through a health system is paramount to its success. So, in closing now, I always go back to that opening question about the Amazon culture. People don't come out of Disney World talking about the service they had, they come out talking about the experience they had. It's that true emotional experience that people are looking for today, and that all consumers deserve.

This is the Patient Flow Podcast powered by TeleTracking. Your source for insightful conversations by industry leaders making a difference in patient flow today.

Did you know?

Texts & Consumers

A recent study shows that text messages have about a 98% open rate, while email only has about a 20% open rate. Plus, text messaging has a 45% response rate, while email again has only about a 6% response rate. So you can really see the differences in terms of the trends of where the market is going.

More information about this resource

Patient Throughput, , Patient Flow Experts
Media Type
Clinician, Operations

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