CRM has a vital role to play in both improving the patient experience and reducing missed appointments, says Simon Clayton, health lead, Microsoft
According to the latest NHS statistics for England, for the quarter ending 30th June there were 1,485,289 missed or 'did not attend' (DNA) appointments. Each missed appointment costs the NHS an estimated £120 - which suggests a potentially eye watering cost of more than £700m for the full financial year.
Research from numerous sources over the past year suggests that timely reminders, improved communication – and details of the cost to the NHS of missing an appointment – could significantly reduce the number of appointments missed.
The blame cannot all be laid at the patient’s door. Too often dealing with a hospital today seems like a challenge rather than a positive experience. There is often little join up between appointments teams, reception staff, clinical teams and patient information services.
A better patient experience
A common platform that can integrate legacy systems and relevant information from clinical and patient systems used within a hospital could dramatically improve both administration and the patient experience. Such a unified view could help solve the headache of DNAs.
An effective and quick win way to do this is to follow learning from the commercial world and use that stalwart of customer excellence, the customer relationship management system, to integrate many into one - and provide an overview based around the patient.
For example, using Microsoft Dynamics for care coordination can give a 360° view of patients including preferences, care plans, medications and past enquiries. The bonus here of course is that Dynamics integrates with the full Microsoft stack – for example, it integrates with Skype for business, so care givers can easily communicate with each other using secure messaging, voice and video wherever they are. To further enhance productivity, caregivers and administration staff can review appointments in Outlook and mobile or tablet devices on the move.
Giving staff a unified desktop through Dynamics effectively streamlines interactions and provides intelligent guidance to call handlers to help serve patients better. Having access to patient booking information, correspondence and key patient record information alongside an embedded knowledge base can provide information to staff, helping to answer appointment and other queries in a consistent manner.
This same knowledge base can be made available through the self-service community portal and give patients the wherewithal to find answers to their queries themselves - reducing the workload on staff but retaining full visibility.
Effective and trackable communication with the patient through their preferred channels - from booking, through confirmation and reminders to attendance – will highlight problems, blocks and patterns that can be rapidly addressed.
Adding social engagement and insight from analytics will help spot and respond to problems in real time and enable deeper social and community involvement. It is also a great way to share feedback and demonstrate that you are both listening and responding to patient concerns.
Joining up the patient journey
Connecting systems, services and people with CRM could also facilitate planning for patient discharge from the day that a patient is first admitted. Involving patients, families, carers and support services from the outset and keeping them up to date on progress could drive significant reductions in discharge delays.
According to the latest NHS Indicators for England, the number of bed days lost to delayed transfers of care – or discharge - was 15.3% higher in the year to July 2016 than the previous year. Over the last twelve months, the largest percentage increases in delayed ‘reasons’ have been for those awaiting a care package in their own home (up 42%) and patients waiting for a nursing home placement (up 35%). A lack of communication between relevant agencies is often at the core of these delays.
Having an overview through the Dynamics platform could dramatically improve patient flow and processes within the hospital and ensure that the patient journey was streamlined and coordinated with relevant agencies from first contact through to discharge and follow up.
Perhaps more importantly, getting people well and then home with appropriate support in as short a time as possible is also massively beneficial to the patient!
Many patients feel grateful simply for seeing a doctor, but for how much longer can we rely on that to keep patients happy? Increasingly in public services citizens expect the same level of service and efficiency that they encounter in the commercial world.
Overall, you can drive an improved patient experience simply from listening to the voice of the patient, and engaging with them through the channels that they prefer, rather than the ones the organisation has traditionally used in the past.
At the end of the day, the patient journey is essentially a series of human interactions. At the moment it is too often the patient that joins up these interactions, but it could be so much more easily and more efficiently done with digital technologies.
Watch the videos ‘Improving Patient Experience with Microsoft Dynamics CRM’
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