Highlights How COVID-19 Has Forced Patient Access Leadership to Focus on Their Digital Patient Experience

BOSTON – November 10, 2020Lumeon, the leader in care automation, today announced the findings of its 2020-2021 U.S. Patient Access Leadership Report. The research uncovers the biggest challenges encountered by patient access leaders during COVID-19 – among them, the fragmentation of the patient experience, processes, and technology. The research also reveals how the pandemic is impacting patient access leaders’ priorities for 2021.

According to the research, patient access leaders say patient experience (90%) and access to care (81%) will be the most important differentiators for winning and retaining patients in 2021, far ahead of attracting top clinical talent (62%), offering patients more services (40%), or adding new services lines (33%).

“As COVID-19 forced health systems to embrace virtual and remote care experiences, patient access leaders were suddenly faced with a critical responsibility: designing better, self-service digital experiences that connect patients to the care they need, when they need it.” said Robbie Hughes, Lumeon CEO. “The pandemic accelerated a shift to thinking about patients as online consumers, who desire the convenient, effortless experiences they’ve become accustomed to through other digitized industries like eCommerce and banking. More than ever, patients are gravitating towards providers who automatically nurture and guide them along their care journeys, using modern digital communication channels.”

While these digital experiences promise a great deal of potential, the path to achieving them is not without challenges. More than half of patient access leaders (57%) believe fragmented processes and technology are preventing them from meeting patient access goals. This fragmentation results in a high volume of manual, repetitive tasks that not only harm the patient experience, but also impede care team productivity. The report shows, for instance, that 72% of providers still manually call waitlisted patients to fill cancelled appointments.

Fragmented care processes are also inhibiting the powerful benefits of telehealth. While the majority of health systems (88%) are offering telehealth, and more than three-quarters believe it offers an excellent patient experience, 51% believe that significant improvements are needed to effectively integrate telehealth into the care delivery process.

Though patient access leaders expect 60-70% of visits to take place in-person in 2021, telehealth services are likely to hold steady, with 20-30% of visits expected to be conducted via video, according to the report.

“2020 has brought healthcare to an inflection point, where hybrid care models – combining virtual and in-person experiences – have arrived and are here to stay,” said Hughes. “But there is still work to be done in getting these new models right. The most successful patient access departments will be the ones who can unify and coordinate today’s fragmented hybrid patient experience – tapping into automation, virtual care and decision support tools – to eliminate fragmentation and deliver truly meaningful experiences that ultimately drive better outcomes.”

The report’s findings were based on a survey of 68 total senior leaders responsible for patient access in large hospitals across the United States, each managing more than 25,000 appointments per month. The research consisted of a quantitative survey, shared with 58 patient access leaders, and in-depth interviews conducted with 10 patient access leaders.

Download the full report here to learn more about the current challenges, opportunities and priorities facing patient access leaders in 2020-2021.