Dead Ends and Green Lights: The Value of Intelligent Navigation
Blog post for Digital Strategists and Operations
Have you ever enjoyed seeing a “Dead End” sign while driving?
Well, this is how a patient feels when they aren’t given alternative options while searching for a care provider. The solution for this is intelligent navigation, which steers patients to the optimal provider.
What is intelligent navigation?
Intelligent navigation is the utilization of algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence in conjunction with navigation applications like online appointment scheduling. For the navigation to be intelligent, alternative options must be presented to the patient to avoid the dreaded “dead end”.
For intelligent navigation to reach its potential, the goal, and measures of accuracy, need to be defined. This allows intelligent navigation to optimize toward a specific outcome. In the case of online appointment scheduling, we have to define who the “optimal provider” is for a patient.
So, who is the “optimal provider” for a patient?
We define the optimal provider as one who meets the following criteria:
- Can treat the patient’s need based on stated medical requirements and visit reason
- Has specific expertise and experience with the specific visit reason and sub-visit reason reported by the patient
- Is in-network
- Is geographically close to the patient
- Has convenient availability based on the urgency of the patient’s needs
Notice that this definition of the optimal provider is one that meets more than the patient’s clinical needs. Beyond clinical needs, a patient’s needs include time and setting. For online scheduling, these needs translate to operational protocols. It is a mix of clinical and operational protocols that navigates patients to the right provider in the right setting at the right time. This seemingly small nuance is a key differentiator between intelligent navigation applications and cookie-cutter technologies.
What are the benefits of intelligent navigation?
Intelligent navigation is not jargon. The optimal provider, similarly, is more than a platitude. Intelligent navigation is the vehicle that steers patients to the right provider in the right setting at the right time.
The right provider means that the patient’s clinical needs are being met by an expert who is capable of providing excellent care. The right setting means that the care is being provided in the appropriate context. The right time means that the patient’s access to care is timely and as urgent as the need requires. The result is quality care, which translates to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs. For providers and health systems, initiatives that improve health outcomes and reduce costs merit consideration.
Patients deserve better than dead end signs when they are trying to find care. Better options, or “green lights”, already exist. Intelligent navigation is one of these green lights—steering patients not only to your providers, but to the optimal provider.