Medical care should be easy to access for everyone regardless of their income and standing within society. However, the way the industry operates often causes friction for many different groups, but this doesn’t have to be the case. With this in mind, we’ve gathered together the most common patient friction points and suggested ways to overcome them.
Long Wait Times
Making an appointment with a specialist can feel like Mission Impossible, with wait times ranging from several weeks to months. This puts up a significant wall that can fill patients with anxiety and often leads to worsened medical conditions. On the back of extensive wait times, emergency rooms and walk-in centers have boomed, according to CNN.
To combat these issues, healthcare providers can make the appointment booking process simpler. For example, instead of requiring phone calls or physical communication to book and manage appointments, intuitive digital scheduling tools can be used. Further, platforms like Zocdoc allow medical practices to re-open appointments and fill in last-minute slots.
Complicated Payment and Billing
The American healthcare payment network, which is full of insurance complexities and a tangled web of member benefits, can often become confusing and lead to missed payments or errors. As well as putting strain on healthcare providers, these issues cause necessary stress for patients.
Overcoming payment-related friction can be tackled through transparency, and by implementing digital payment platforms, which allow patients to view their itemized invoices and make payments as required.
When you add Medicaid and Medicare into the mix, there’s a string of complex benefits to manage and deliver, which often involves issuing several different cards, but a flex card for benefits is easier to use.
Scarce Availability for Underserved Communities
People in rural locations and those in low-income households tend to be faced with significant friction when trying to access medical services. These barriers include limited healthcare facilities, reduced access, limited transportation, and simply not being able to afford basic healthcare.
To alleviate this friction, healthcare providers need to form partnerships with community services, start providing digital services, and open new clinics in poorly served areas. For example, healthcare providers can partner with local transport businesses to offer subsidized journeys to and from clinics.
App and Tech Requirements
Technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry, but many providers are marginalizing members of the community by requiring members to download apps to access services. For example, a large portion of the elderly community doesn’t want to go through the trouble of downloading new apps and then learning how to use them.
To reduce this friction, medical providers can offer several communication channels including live chat, text, telephone, and email. As well as this, instead of having mobile apps with lots of steps, websites should be mobile optimized and facilitate the majority of functions.
To provide a more efficient level of care and see satisfaction levels rise, healthcare providers must begin reducing friction throughout the local community. This article is by no means exhaustive, but it serves as a fantastic indication of which direction to head in.