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Pumping your own gas might seem like a regular occurrence, but that wasn’t always the case. Before Colorado convenience store operator John Roscoe activated the first remote access self-service gasoline pumps in 1964, getting your own fuel was prohibited in most of the United States. 

These days, self-service is common in many industries — even expected. Consumers want to access services conveniently when and where they prefer. It’s a central component of healthcare consumerism. Most patients, including older adults, have smartphones, giving them the control to utilize self-service tools in healthcare as they do in other areas of their life.

According to the latest Patient Access Journey Report from our colleagues at Kyruus, 93 percent of consumers are extremely or very interested in self-service capabilities to find provider location information, provide insurance and verify coverage, complete pre-visit questionnaires and/or make payments. Self-service options catapulted in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many consumers opted for contactless care to avoid crowded waiting rooms and high-touch areas. 

Focusing on Patient Preferences 

By understanding their patient base and developing a strategy to respond to industry trends and changes, healthcare providers can best apply the use of digital technology where it drives the most growth. Consumer and patient preference is the prime reason they should prioritize self-service healthcare options, but it’s certainly not the only one. 

For example, offering solutions that enable patients to perform healthcare tasks on their own time using their own mobile devices helps hospitals, health systems and medical groups distinguish themselves from their competitors and build patient loyalty. It makes it easier to distribute patient education, which in turn produces a more collaborative approach where patients have more input in their provider’s clinical decision-making. 

If you’re still not sold on making self-service capabilities available to your patients, these eight reasons might just convince you otherwise. 

1. Boosted Patient Satisfaction

Patients expect convenient, quality care at a reasonable cost. When they have a positive experience with your practice, it will increase their satisfaction and help you retain them as a patient. Offering self-service options to automate care processes not only enhances the experience for patients but also for you and your staff. Plus, patients with better care experiences often have better health outcomes and are more likely to adhere to medical advice and treatment plans. 

2. Increased Access to Care

Self-service capabilities save patients money in terms of time (for example, being able to meet with a provider without leaving work) and distance traveled and help guide them to the most appropriate — and often less expensive — care setting. They can be used to improve patient access and health equity by reaching patients remotely, where they are. In areas with physician shortages or lack of specialty care, such as rural areas, this technology lets providers see more patients across greater distances while mitigating the need for travel.  

3. More Achievable Patient-centered Care

Healthcare technology, including solutions for patient self-service, is an important component of patient-centered care. Why? Because it addresses pain points that often frustrate patients — think scheduling difficulties, unclear billing and payment issues, long wait times and unclear health insurance coverage. Medical groups and other provider organizations focused on patient-centered care assist in reducing unnecessary tests and procedures, decreasing overall healthcare utilization. There’s even evidence confirming that health IT applications with components for patient-centered care have a positive effect on healthcare outcomes. 

4. Improved Staff Efficiency

Healthcare staff shortages are projected for every state by 2026, when the U.S. will lack an estimated 3.2 million healthcare workers. Despite these staffing challenges, providers must continue to serve patients. Giving patients the tools for self-service reduces the administrative burden on provider staff and allows them to focus on other tasks, from conducting patient outreach to tracking down payments. As an added bonus, it helps reduce the need for additional staff. 

5. A Stronger Revenue Cycle

Research has found that patients prefer to make all their healthcare payments in one place and want to use an electronic method to do so. Many providers, though, still send out paper bills. By offering self-service payment options for your patients, including credit card-on-file technologies, text-to-pay capabilities and the ability to submit copays in advance, you can increase collections, reduce bad debt and write-offs and accelerate your practice’s cash flow. 

6. More Accurate Patient Data

In addition to increasing accuracy, saving time and empowering patients, self-service reporting of data translates to better patient care, shorter hospital stays and fewer admissions and readmissions. Patients often are more likely to answer sensitive questions when using digital technology, resulting in more accurate patient-reported outcomes. For physicians and other clinicians, access to more accurate patient data improves care delivery by enabling them to gather important information about how patients are doing between medical visits and provides information for use in shared decision-making about preventive and chronic care management.  

7. Precise Provider Matching

The internet isn’t only for reading restaurant reviews and staying connected through social media. An increasing number of Americans are looking online to find information about healthcare providers. The Kyruus report noted that 61 percent of survey respondents used the internet to research providers, and nearly 80 percent reported consulting two or more online resources. Embedding provider matching technology in your websites and mobile apps strengthens your practice’s online presence, improves SEO and delivers the modern, self-service digital experience patients prefer. 

8. Streamlined Patient Intake

Lengthy wait times are a common source of frustration for patients. A large survey conducted just a couple of years ago found that 97 percent of respondents were frustrated by wait times at the doctor’s office. Some patients even leave the office before being seen — or leave the practice altogether. Long wait times can cost you through canceled appointments or no-shows and a negative reputation fostered by unhappy patients. The result is often low patient retention and missed revenue. However, digital check-in and other such self-service patient intake solutions enable individuals to pre-register for an appointment when it’s convenient for them, resulting in less time in a crowded waiting room and more time discussing their care with their provider. 

Epion’s powerful HIPAA-compliant patient engagement platform automates and integrates patient access and is customizable to patients’ needs. Schedule a meeting with us to find out how you can improve your ability to deliver quality care to your patients using the self-service technology they prefer.