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A Satisfied Patient: How Proactive Engagement can benefit the NHS?

By sudha | 22, September 2017

The world is changing, and customers are demanding more in every sector. Personalised, efficient and engaging customer service is now the norm, and every industry from retail to healthcare has a vested interest in proactively engaging their customers. We are seeing large shifts towards patient centric services, as healthcare organisations are working to improve customer service. Proactive engagement allows healthcare branches to interact, build relationships and provide a greater level of care to their patients over time. As we look at the different use cases, we’ll see that proactive engagement not only results in patient satisfaction, but also provides some much-needed operational efficiency benefits.

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The NHS is facing greater pressure as patients’ demands pressures practices to deliver a higher class of service. As these practices feel the heat from rising consumer expectations, they should be focused on maximising the value of their current customers. In any clinical setting, whether it be a small GPs office or a large hospital, a large emphasis is placed on getting customers to their appointments. According to the NHS, around 1 in 10 hospital appointments are ‘did not attend’ (DNA) every year in England alone, at an estimated cost of over £1bn.

A proactive engagement strategy aims to reduce DNA rates with interactive, two-way communications. One way this can be demonstrated is with two-way SMS exchange, facilitated by big data analytics. In this scenario, a data analytics engine could detect that a patient has an upcoming appointment in the next week, and send out an automated SMS message. This text would give a reminder of the appointment, but also give the customer the option to “reply to this message with ‘yes’ to confirm this appointment or reply with ‘no’ if you will not make it.” Simple solutions like this have the potential to make huge savings for the NHS in both time and money.

Enhanced schedule management

Patient appointment adherence is not only an important factor to ensure budgets go further; it is also critically important to maintain operational efficiency. The clinic or department will schedule their day based on the customer appointment schedule. If a customer is DNA or is significantly late, doctors and nurses cannot make efficient use of their time. Emergency walk-in patients will also have to wait significantly longer when other patients do not show or turn up late. As above, an SMS exchange of even more detailed information could help patients adhere to their appointments, ensuring the patient is clear on the time and exact address of the appointment.

A new use case beginning to gain traction in the market is an automated data push via online scheduling. In this scenario, if a first time patient schedules an appointment, upon submitting the online appointment request, the patient receives an email with an attached PDF. This document includes all of the forms the patient will need to provide to the practice. This will greatly expedite the appointment for the patient, reduce wait time for others and allow practices to operate more efficiently and see more patients within a day.

Take a proactive role in patient health

NHS users are increasingly expecting their clinicians to take a more proactive role in engagement through ‘patient-centred care’. The population has become busier and more mobile than ever, and GPs and local practitioners can encourage regular attendance by proactively engaging with their patients’ health interests with more regular interaction. As the NHS slowly transitions to a model in which value/results is more important than ever, efficient preventative services are being emphasised. Doctors and public health officials have considerable interest in ensuring customers take advantage of services such as check-ups, flu vaccines and mammograms. With a proactive customer engagement strategy spanning multiple channels, healthcare practices can market these services more effectively and drive increased customer appointments.

Currently there is a lot of opportunity being left on the table in the NHS and healthcare industry. Proactive customer engagement used effectively will ultimately result in increased return on investment (ROI) for each practice, but also, healthier customers in the long run. As the pressure to save money continues to be critical for the NHS, practices need to engage with patients. The hard ROI attainable by adopting a proactive engagement strategy will become increasingly attractive as the NHS continues to explore technology solutions as a means to cut costs.

By Ashish Koul, President at Acqueon

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