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ATMs, Plane Tickets and a Patient Web Portal

by David Harvey,

Gone are the days when “open for business” lasted a few hours longer than a 2nd grader’s school day. Today, meeting consumer demand means being able to interact around the clock and on the web. Banking? Online. Travel reservations? Online. Tax filing? Online.

Can we say the same thing for the health care industry?  I sure would love to pick up my test results online, get a list of my dad’s medications online, schedule an appointment online, pay a bill online, get my child’s vaccination history online, or, well, you get the point.

I’d leap at any available means to avoid calling the doctor’s office.  But the health care industry has fallen behind consumer demand.  In fact, most physician practices today still depend on staff to answer phones or send letters through the mail. To compound the problem, modern physician practices have been saddled with onerous paperwork that keeps providers from spending enough time with patients. 

I’m not the first to point out the tricky balance between providing care and staying in business, as shown by these recent findings in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It doesn’t have to be this way, but over and over again doctors hear the typical complaints from patients about being left on hold or waiting for sluggish test result news.

This is not in the physician job description. Such patient dissatisfaction on top of an uncertain legislative and bureaucratic health care landscape can make physicians think twice about their chosen profession.

This is a company with a mission to make things simpler and better for physicians.  We have to find innovative ways to take administrative busy work out of the physician’s office and allow them to do what they do best—provide patient care. 

Against this backdrop, last spring we launched a patient communication software service called athenaCommunicator.

With this new service, we take on the work of communicating with patients on behalf of physicians. So far, we’ve found that giving patients greater access to their information through the web and proactively reaching out at key moments in the care cycle can actually increase practice revenue, decrease phone calls and reduce administrative burdens. The results to date have been extremely encouraging.

If you want to find out more about increasing schedule density through better communications, register for a webinar hosted by yours truly tomorrow, September 9th. It will kick off at 12:15pm. Join the audience by clicking here and signing up.    

I’d love to hear your tales and thoughts on this subject.  Please send in your questions and ideas by posting a comment on the blog.

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