For healthcare organizations, there is still a gap between consumer expectations and their experiences in accessing care. This can put health outcomes, the consumer experience and costs at risk.

AMGA hosted Dr. Ashok Rai, CEO of Prevea Health, in a webinar “How Prevea Health is Innovating Access to Care” to share his experiences optimizing patient access to meet consumer demand. Moderated by Jordan Pisarcik, VP of Growth and Customer Engagement at DocASAP, the webinar discussed using digital channels to enhance access to care, as well as Rai’s recent efforts to promote patient access and safety during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Understanding the Patient Access Cycle

From searching for an optimal provider, to finding a convenient appointment slot, to following up with a provider after treatment, the patient journey has changed from single appointments to a continuum. 

This continuum is in a constant state of flux due to changing consumer expectations and, more recently, the coronavirus. 

“As you are thinking of patient access, especially during this time with COVID-19, it’s really important to understand that the patient journey to accessing care is really a cycle,” Pisarcik explained in the webinar’s introduction. “This has never been more true than it is right now due to COVID-19, where we’ve really seen the provider and patient relationship extend outside the office and outside an appointment.”

With the rise of digital technologies, Pisarcik said that patients are demanding the same access, convenience, and transparency they experience with the retail and consumer goods industries:

  • 84% of patients want to connect with providers outside business hours
  • 54% of patients want to see a provider within a week
  • 54% of consumers defer care because scheduling an appointment is too difficult. 

To meet this changing Prevea Health sought to enhance its patient access channels to meet that consumer demand head on. 

How Prevea Optimized Its Patient Access Journey

Prevea Health, a multi-specialty physician group with 80 locations, wanted to fill gaps in access and increase patient volume across all of its specialties. However, Prevea’s patient access journey required innovation in order to meet those goals. 

Make online scheduling ‘omnipresent’ with multiple digital channels.

Scheduling appointments with Prevea providers previously required making a phone call during office hours. Rai shared that this system added unnecessary friction to the patient experience. 

“We were creating more barriers than we thought we were by calling people to schedule an appointment without giving them appointment opportunities or an easier way to schedule them,” Rai said.

Prevea Health thus implemented DocASAP’s online appointment scheduling solution to provide patients with digital access points via their website, social media, Google My Business, and payor portals. Rai said that these channels made booking an appointment “super easy” and “omnipresent” for patients.

Enable patients to book appointments according to their own schedule. 

When Prevea relied on phone calls to book appointments, patients could only contact providers during their business hours. Online appointment scheduling enabled patients to book appointments at any time according to their own schedules. 

One ‘ah-ha’ moment for Rai was seeing the sheer volume of appointments booked after business hours using the DocASAP Insights dashboard.

“The amount of appointments being booked while we were closed was stunning,” Rai said. “Almost half of all appointments being booked was when we weren’t open.” 

Connect with payors to help patients find in-network providers.

According to a DocASAP survey, 47% of patients search for a provider through their health plan portals or apps. Prevea Health leveraged DocASAP’s connectivity with payors such as UnitedHealthcare to grant patients access to in-network care more quickly and seamlessly.

“[Payor connect] drove more volume and improved health outcomes, and it made consumers happy that they didn’t have to be put on hold by a health plan to be connected to us, or to be introduced to a doctor,” Rai said.

Patient Access Through COVID-19

The patient access journey has become complicated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and elective procedure restrictions have pushed health systems like Prevea Health to close patient access channels while they focused on mitigating the infection’s spread.

“Patients want to seek care on their own terms,” Rai said. “That’s pretty much changed in the last 8 weeks where there’s been physical restrictions in being able to see our patients.”

Fortunately, Prevea is preparing to resume elective procedures using the latest CMS guidelines and safety protocols. Rai said that while online scheduling will play a significant role in resuming operations, Prevea providers must adapt once more to meet the surging consumer demand for virtual visits. 

“It’s not going to be post-COVID for us for a while. It’s the with-COVID world,” Rai said. “We’ll still have COVID patients, we’ll still be testing, and we still need to ramp up all of our operations and keep everybody safe. Online scheduling, telemedicine, and the structures that we built around all that are going to be key to continue our investments going forward.” 

Access the Full On-Demand Webinar

Learn how Prevea Health implemented a digital strategy that leverages payor channels and matches consumers’ and providers’ needs to make accessing care easier. Prevea will discuss their approach to:

  • Expanding access through payor member apps and portals – 47% search for a provider this way
  • Navigating consumers seeking care to the optimal provider
  • Creating a consumer and provider-friendly online scheduling experience
  • Engaging consumers to better manage and prepare for their appointments 

Access the webinar here.

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