Accelerating Care: How You Can Use Technology to See Your Patients Sooner

Getting patients the care they need is every healthcare organization’s primary goal, but doing so in a timely manner is harder now more than ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deferred care during the early months of the crisis has led to pent-up patient demand, making it difficult for providers to see their patients quickly and meet their expectations for convenience.

Read the infographic below for a closer look at the current patient access issues affecting healthcare organizations and how technology can help get patients the care they need sooner.

Click the image to view the full-sized infographic.

Accelerating Care: How You Can Use Technology to See Your Patients Sooner

Connecting patients to the services they need is the heart of healthcare. But as it did with care delivery in general, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated patient access. Patients delayed care for months, while providers focused their immediate efforts on pandemic response. Now healthcare organizations are contending with the pandemic’s ripple effects—pent-up demand, short-staffed medical teams and burned-out employees—while also trying to meet patients’ changing expectations. Here are some of the biggest drivers of current patient access issues and what organizations can do to address them.

Why Is It More Difficult for Patients to Get Care Now?

  1. Pent-up patient demand
    • The COVID-19 pandemic kept many patients from seeing their healthcare providers for routine and preventive care
      • One-third of older Americans delayed seeking care because they feared virus exposure.i
      • Preventive cancer screenings dropped by 94% in the first four months of 2020ii
      • The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 10,000 preventable cancer deaths over the next decade as the result of missed treatment during the pandemic.iii
    • Now, patients who delayed care want to go back to see their doctor, but increased demand makes it difficult for them to be seen quickly
  2. Staffing shortages
    • The healthcare industry is in the midst of a significant labor shortage. Many healthcare professionals have left the field as a direct result of the burnout, stress and trauma brought on by the pandemic, and hiring is more difficult than ever.
      • 30% of healthcare workers are considering leaving their profession altogether.
      • By 2032, there is an expected shortage of 122,000 physicians in the U.S.iv
      • 60% of healthcare staff report that working through the COVID-19 crisis has affected their mental health.v
    • Working with fewer staff and providers, healthcare organizations may find that patients have to wait longer for appointments and that their teams are overworked and exhausted.
  3. Long wait times for appointments
    • The amount of time patients wait for a medical appointment directly correlates to visit cancellations and no-shows. In fact, appointment cancellation rates are affected by how far ahead appointments are scheduled.
      • New patient visits scheduled more than four weeks out have a 32% cancellation rate.vi
      • Just one no-show increases the likelihood of attrition by almost 70% per patient.vii
      • New patients are two times more likely to cancel a first appointment that’s scheduled more than a month away than to cancel an appointment that’s only a week away.viii
    • With appointment wait times steadily risingix, many healthcare organizations risk losing their patients to competing groups that already have the tools in place to get patients seen sooner.

How Can Providers Address Access Challenges?

The simple answer: technology. Forward-thinking healthcare organizations are investing in tech-enabled patient-access solutions—and a majority are preparing to do so:

  • 81% of physicians plan to accelerate the introduction of new digital technologies into their practice.x
  • 63% of physicians plan to make moderate or significant investments in these technologies over the next three years.xi

Your organization can quickly make technology part of its patient access strategy. Here are four easily implemented tools that can help your patients get the care they need sooner:

  1. Simplify patient scheduling with online self-scheduling and/or appointment requests to give your patients the flexibility and convenience they expect.
    • Self-scheduling through Phreesia allows patients to book routine check-ups in less than a minute.
  2. Implement an automated schedule-management tool. Unlike traditional waitlists, automated schedule management notifies all eligible—based on practice-specific customizations—about unexpected open appointment slots and can quickly fill gaps in your schedule.
    • Phreesia’s Appointment Accelerator, our automated schedule-management tool, reduces vacant appointment slots by 35%. Eligible patients are seen 18 days sooner, on average, through Appointment Accelerator.
  3. Use text messages to communicate with patients and reach them quickly and reliably. Templates for commonly sent messages, such as pre-visit registration reminders or day-of-appointment details, can save your staff a significant amount of time.
    • A provider group using Phreesia’s two-way text messaging tool saved 100 phone calls per day per staff member.
  4. Use targeted patient outreach to connect with patients before, after and between their visits. Targeted outreach can help you better engage with your patients, reduce gaps in care and create a better overall patient experience.
    • 1 in 2 patients engaged with one of Phreesia’s targeted outreach messages to schedule a preventive-care appointment.

Learn how Phreesia can help you improve patient access, streamline appointment scheduling and create a better patient experience.


i https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/one-third-of-older-americans-delayed-health-care-over-covid-concerns
ii https://www.statnews.com/2020/05/04/cancer-screenings-drop-coronavirus-pandemic-epic/
iii https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/10-000-more-cancer-deaths-predicted-because-covid-19-pandemic-n1231551
iv https://www.aha.org/fact-sheets/2021-05-26-fact-sheet-strengthening-health-care-workforce
v https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/press-releases/new-findings-confirm-predictions-physician-shortage
vi https://www.athenahealth.com/knowledge-hub/financial-performance/retain-new-patients-give-them-appointment-stat
vii https://www.athenahealth.com/knowledge-hub/financial-performance/retain-new-patients-give-them-appointment-stat
viii https://www.athenahealth.com/knowledge-hub/financial-performance/no-show-effect-even-one-missed-appointment-risks-retention
ix https://www.mgma.com/data/data-stories/how-long-are-patients-waiting-for-an-appointment
x https://www.ey.com/en_us/health/how-covid-19-has-triggered-a-sprint-toward-smarter-health-care
xi https://www.ey.com/en_us/health/how-covid-19-has-triggered-a-sprint-toward-smarter-health-care