Accompanied by the high-deductible health plans and cost sharing models, consumerism has been steadily on the rise in the healthcare industry. Hospitals that are able to successfully handle these challenges may be in a better position to stay financially viable in a period when competitive pricing and patient satisfaction can make or break a hospital's chances of succeeding. Rising costs, combined with smaller margins and inpatient volumes have contributed to hospitals' financial crisis. "Hospitals are now measured by patient experience, and with insurers planning to tie more payments to quality in the coming years, the importance of engagement will only heighten in 2016," said Michael Archuleta, IT Director at MT. San Rafael Hospital. "Healthcare has changed from what is convenient for the provider to what's convenient for the consumer. That overall rebranding has made a massive change."
Mt. San Rafael Hospital is a small critical access hospital in a rural community. Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. Rural residents tend to be older, have lower incomes, and are more likely to be uninsured than residents in metropolitan areas. Additionally, older populations are usually slower to adopt new technology.
Mt. San Rafael Hospital was not meeting the Meaningful Use Stage 2 threshold of 5 percent VDT (view, download, transmit). They needed to extend reach outside of the care setting in order to remain competitive and they also wanted to improve their user experience.
Archuleta and his team came up with a P.I.P.E. strategy (combining patient improvement and patient experience) to increase the overall experience of their patients.
"In the new world of healthcare, consumerism technology and data analytics have been a center stage in determining the efficiency of patient engagement," Archuleta explained further. "Understanding healthcare consumers requires organizations like Mt. San Rafael to have comprehensive information about its patients medical and nonmedical records, including nontraditional data from social media and wearable technology."
Archuleta attributes Mt. San Rafael's success to adopting new technology concepts and bringing in an advocacy program, "We live in an age of digital health. It is time that we see technology as a business-centered process to improve the overall success of any organization. Morphing into a technical brand was a key element that resulted in the success of our organization."
But technology is not the only element that can make this transition successful, creating an advocacy program is one of the most impactful things an organization can do to build meaningful relationships and engage with their patients, and empower word-of-mouth both online and offline. According to a study, modernizing the patient experience can boost revenue up to 16 percent.
To succeed its goals, Mt. San Rafael chose YourCareUniverse for its technology and patient -centered approach. "Its robust technology and comprehensive provider tools have greatly supported our culture of proactive interactions between Mt. San Rafael Hospital, and all the markets we serve, helping to make our hospital a source of guidance and trust in our community." Said Archuleta.
Mt. San Rafael's consumers have embraced its new virtual behaviors, allowing the hospital to better manage its patients' needs and expectations while maximizing ability to implement cost controls.
In order for its advocacy program to be successful, Mt. San Rafael Hospital took on many initiatives including but not limited to:
Additionally, Mt. San Rafael employed several different promotional tactics including:
By implementing these strategic changes, Mt. San Rafael's patient portal traffic increased by more than 40 percent. "It's been a huge success for us, we rarely see these numbers especially in smaller critical access hospitals." Said Archuleta.
In addition, Mt. San Rafael hospital has become one of the leading critical access hospitals in the state of Colorado by becoming 99 percent (up from 79 percent) virtualized within their infrastructure and by reducing cost by 56 percent. It is the first critical access hospital in state to be a part of the Health Information Exchange Program.
About the Author
Recognized as a Top Hospital and Health System CIO to know in 2017 & named Rising Star in Healthcare for Leaders under the Age of 40, Michael is an innovative leader who possesses strong leadership skills with extensive experience & proven track record of driving increased levels of productivity, profits, high integrity customer relationship skills & expert problem-solving approaches.