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May 09

5 Common Pitfalls Along the Patient Journey & How to Avoid Them

There has been an increasing focus on the patient journey in recent years, and for good reason. Taking a holistic approach to patient care and considering how every interaction with your organization affects the level of patient engagement, your attention to the patient experience can have a positive impact on patient health.

What is the patient journey?

The term “patient journey” refers to the patient’s experience over the full course of their care episode, from beginning to end. This is the sequence of events a patient experiences between the time they choose a provider, all the way to when their bill is paid, and all follow-ups are completed. This journey is particularly important today due to the ways the healthcare system is evolving, such as an increase in consumerization and a greater focus on value-based care.

5 Common Pitfalls Along the Patient Journey & How to Avoid Them

Pitfall #1: Scheduling Bottlenecks

Traditional scheduling can be frustrating for patients and staff alike, consisting of lengthy phone calls and patients who are frustrated by being limited to calling during office hours  and trying to line up a time that fits their own scheduling needs. Fielding phone calls to book appointments takes up valuable time that both patients and practice staff could use for more pressing matters.

Avoid Scheduling Bottlenecks with Online Scheduling

Online scheduling based on real time availability allows patients to visit your scheduling portal at their leisure and choose an appointment that works best for them. In order for online scheduling to truly work to alleviate bottlenecks, it’s important to choose a robust solution that helps qualify and guide patients to select the correct appointment type before offering up time slots. Equally important is the ability to offer patients the ability to cancel their appointments if needed – and direct them back to online scheduling to pick an alternative time slot if needed.  This immediately opens available time slots – and helps avoids scheduling headaches with proper tools to manage the experience.

Pitfall #2: Inefficient Intake

Traditional patient intake is inconvenient for both patients and practice staff. Patients are tasked with arriving extra early for their appointment in order to try to remember detailed medical history on the spot. Additionally, practice staff is then responsible for manually entering the data provided by those patients into the practice’s EMR. This method of traditional intake can lead to inaccurate or incomplete information due to a patient misremembering details, being rushed, or human error in data entry.

Avoid Inefficient Intake with Digital Intake

Digital intake allows patients to complete their intake forms at a time that is convenient to them, before arriving for their appointment, allowing them to double check details in order to provide accurate information. This solution also saves practice staff time as the information provided by patients is returned electronically so it is legible with data available to import into your EMR, reducing manual data entry.

Pitfall #3: Distracted Providers

Many providers today are juggling multiple priorities at the same time, from patient care to regulatory requirements and everything in between. With so much of billing and regulatory success depending on accurate documentation, it can be easy for providers to be overwhelmed or distracted by inadequate technology, leading to a lack of connection with patients and, in worst case scenarios, subpar patient care.

Avoid Distracted Providers with a Streamlined, User-Friendly EMR

Choose an EMR that fits with your workflow, rather than requiring you to adjust your process. Picking a customizable option will help you to get exactly what you need, and choosing something simple will ensure you aren’t working with an unwieldy solution that pulls focus from your patients. This will enable your providers to really connect with and engage their patients, leading to better health outcomes.

Pitfall #4: Surprise Bills

Today’s patients bear a greater responsibility for their healthcare costs than ever before. Surprise bills can cause significant financial hardship and cause patients to be hesitant to seek future care. When patients are cautious about seeking care due to financial concerns, poor health outcomes are the result.

Avoid Surprise Bills with Prior Authorization and Eligibility Verification

By identifying insurance coverage in advance, patients can have an understanding of their responsibilities and make decisions accordingly. This allows for prior planning and less stress, which will then help patients to manage their healthcare in a way that works for them, enabling better health outcomes. Practices can assist by automatically verifying eligibility and providing accurate pre-treatment patient cost estimations. When needed, technology can also help with automated payment plans.

Pitfall #5: Missed Follow-Ups

Patients are busy and appointments can easily slip their mind, particularly if they’re feeling better. These missed appointments not only have the potential to negatively impact the patient’s health, but also leave the practice with empty time slots and lost revenue, creating concerns for the practice’s financial health.

Avoid Missed Follow-Ups with Patient Reminders

Sending a reminder through the patient’s preferred communication channel helps to ensure that appointments and other necessary care aren’t missed. Today’s strategies have to be interactive allowing two way communication of confirmations or the need to cancel, preferably by convenient text messaging. This helps the practice to maintain a full schedule, which is important for strong financials, while also keeping the patient from missing necessary care and suffering negative consequences.

Considering the importance of the patient journey, taking steps to avoid potential pitfalls is necessary for both patient and practice health. This is why Henry Schein MicroMD works hard to offer outstanding solutions to help avoid patient journey pitfalls, such as MMDengage, our patient engagement solution that offers online scheduling, digital intake, and patient reminders to name a few important features. Our simple, customizable, connected MicroMD EMR allows providers to seamlessly complete documentation without taking their focus away from their patients. Finally, MicroMD’s Practice Management solution features automatic eligibility verification so that you can be sure of what your patient’s financial responsibility will be before providing treatment.

To learn more or to get started with any of MicroMD’s solutions, visit or call 1-800-624-8832 today.

About the author,
Crystal Stanton

Crystal is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Henry Schein MicroMD. Content creation, social media management, and SEO optimization are just a few of her areas of concentration as she seeks to educate clients and prospects alike about the simple, customizable, and connected solutions we offer at MicroMD.

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