A report commissioned by Relatient found that the quality of scheduling was an important element of the overall patient experience.

Three-quarters of healthcare providers believe scheduling is an important element of delivering a positive patient experience while nearly half believe it is the most important, according to a new survey from Relatient.

The research also found that while most provider groups leverage outbound communication technology, patients still rely heavily on human-driven interactions at a time when the overwhelming majority of executives say they are facing administrative staffing challenges.

Relatient is an intelligent patient scheduling and engagement platform provider. 

The report is based on a survey of more than 350 provider group executives. It found that while scheduling and patient engagement technology is widely available to provider groups and that many have implemented some of these solutions, patients have not yet widely adopted them.

Key findings include:

  • Approximately two-thirds of provider groups rely on phone calls and/or use automated phone calls to communicate with patients before appointments
  • 60% of provider groups send mass patient messages, and about half send targeted/segmented messages
  • 84% of providers say patients still schedule care with the front desk
  • 73% of patients still call to cancel or reschedule an appointment
  • Only 4% of providers use automated chat

“Provider groups overwhelmingly understand the need for automation and digital tools to improve the patient experience—especially as they face unprecedented staffing challenges. The key for them is identifying and investing in solutions that alleviate staffing challenges while providing an experience consumers will embrace and use,” said Jeff Gartland, chief executive officer of Relatient. “We understand what providers are up against and are committed to providing intelligent scheduling and engagement solutions that not only drive operational efficiencies and increase overall patient encounters but also set providers up for success with a superior patient and staff experience.”

Staffing challenges impact both staff and patient experience, according to the provider groups surveyed:

  • 35% report a negative impact on staff morale
  • 18% report longer wait times for patients
  • 16% report a negative impact on patient experience
  • 39% report it takes more than 4 weeks to onboard new staff

Provider groups also cited managing provider preferences as the number one driver of patient scheduling challenges. Notably, 86% of executives said their organization still relies on staff knowledge or offline resources to manage rules and preferences, as opposed to leveraging an intelligent scheduling platform.

The survey of 359 individuals in c-suite, executive, and other senior positions was commissioned by Relatient and conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) in August 2022. The survey was developed to better understand provider perspectives on patient engagement, staffing related to scheduling and access, and other related challenges.

The full report is available online.

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