This year at Lumanate 2023, we centered around patient empowerment and partnership. Why this theme? Why now?
We know that the healthcare delivery landscape continues to increase in complexity – where patients (i.e. the customer) are seeking a great health outcome, alongside a stellar consumer experience.
Competition is further amplifying this challenge – patients (i.e. the customer) have far more options to choose from, be it a similar clinic down the street, retail care options like CVS Minute Clinic, or a virtual care option on their phone.
Given the numerous paths to achieving a patient’s desired health outcome, delivering a stellar consumer experience is critical – patients want to play a part in managing their healthcare journey.
Recent research shows that it is a key consideration in their choice of providers.
Patients are often an underutilized resource. However, when empowered, patients take manual work away from staff and – unlike staff – a patient’s self-service efforts are scalable.
This strategy doesn’t require ‘more technology’ – rather, successful healthcare delivery organizations have focused on framing technology, workflows, and staffing trade-offs with a clear focus on ‘what’s the right thing to do for our customer/patient?”.
Here are three guiding principles we’ve found to be critical in empowering patients:
Don’t rely on the “digital front door” alone
The patient journey extends before and after the front door (and don’t forget that some folks like using the garage door or side door).
Think digital-first, but not digital-only
Patients want an omni-channel experience (i.e. meet them where they are, and pick right back up where they left off) – that’s not one-size-fits-all.
Look for “hidden” pitfalls to patient success
Areas where patients might have trouble reaching you or getting what they need.
It’s time to empower patients. Let’s get started together!
Want more Lumanate 2023 content, including a recording of Adnan Iqbal’s kickoff? Visit lumahealth.io/lumanate
Have you searched for something on a company’s website, then given up and called to speak to a customer service representative when you couldn’t find the answers you were looking for? This experience is all too common – especially in healthcare. Since 2020, digital front doors (DFDs) have become increasingly popular. And with the healthcare staff shortage projected to continue, and even worsen, until 2025, digital entry points into healthcare for patients are more important than ever.
But for too many patients, these “front doors” are broken and far too difficult to navigate – leaving them either without care or forced to navigate their own entrance into the health system. Technology can be a powerful way to improve healthcare equity and patient access, but a dysfunctional digital front door can create more hurdles for patients. Health systems and clinics must evaluate the true effectiveness of their digital strategy to care for as many patients as possible, more equitably, with fewer staff.
I’ve spoken to many health systems who struggle with having provided patients with digital options to connect, but coming up short when these channels and digital front doors don’t seem to be making a difference. This is the “Great Patient Disconnect,” where both patients and providers are engaged in the healthcare journey and have digital tools available, but still struggle to connect.
For many organizations, the primary digital front door available to the organization remains the patient portal. According to the United States Government Accountability Office, however, while 90% of organizations reported that despite offering a patient portal, only about a third of patients use them. It’s clear that this “front door” is insufficient for patients who expect and need more accessible digital touch points across the healthcare journey.
Barriers to patient adoption or effective use can include:
These barriers contribute to this “front door” being accessible to only a subset of patients. For healthcare organizations who provide care to diverse patient populations, not only do these disparities make healthcare access less equitable, but they increase the number of patients who need to request care via phone calls with already overburdened staff.
Despite the relatively low adoption of patient portals, patients of varied backgrounds are motivated to use technology to engage with their care. Data from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation’s National Poll on Healthy Aging highlights that 75% of surveyed adults aged 50-80 reported having a patient portal, and 85% of those patients reported using it in the last six months.
Meanwhile, patients indicate that the technology offerings available, like patient portals and digital front doors, are not always meeting their needs. A recent meta-analysis shows, for example, that although patients want self-scheduling and self-scheduling has significant benefits, healthcare organizations’ adoption of it remains low – with one of the primary barriers to adoption being the perception that patients would be hesitant to self-schedule.
Modern consumers have access to great digital experiences nearly everywhere they turn. These broken, underused digital front doors are no longer a viable option to serve patients – who need and expect to easily connect with their care in the channel of their choice.
The Great Patient Disconnect shows that a digital front door is no longer the right framework to meet patients where they are. A front door alone isn’t enough – patients need an omnichannel digital continuum that orchestrates all the points of their journey, not just bits and pieces of it.
According to Stacy Porter, VP of Digital at University Hospitals, “We need to move away from ‘random acts of digital’ to truly empower our patients to be successful.” At University Hospitals, every aspect of the patient journey, from digital to in-person, has been designed to avoid gaps, frustrations, and barriers and instead provide an orchestrated experience.
If you’re concerned that your digital strategy could fall prey to “random acts of digital” and contribute to the Great Patient Disconnect, how can you solve potential issues in the continuum to meet patients – your customers – where they are? Look for points of disconnection like:
If you’re seeing more than one of these pain points, it’s time to reevaluate your digital front door and move to an omnichannel digital continuum.
An omnichannel digital continuum considers each interaction a patient has with your organization and creates an orchestrated journey across those interactions.
According to Jeff Johnson, VP Innovation and Digital Business at Banner Health, “We can’t just be a healthcare company that does some digital interactions. We must be a digital company.” Banner Health designs every consumer interaction with ‘Patient Sofia,’ their patient archetype, in mind – from finding care to the experience in the hospital and beyond.
What does a digital strategy look like when corrected from “random acts of digital” to an omnichannel digital continuum? Key attributes include:
One key factor in an effective omnichannel digital continuum is making it truly omnichannel – accounting for the communication preferences of a wide variety of patients. Most patients love the option for text or web interactions, but some don’t. Plan ahead for these preferences and ensure that patients have the flexibility to successfully get to the next step in their journeys, whether they use all or only some of your digital tools. For example, offer an automated option for a callback or a switch to SMS to patients who might have called despite preferring SMS or web. Doing so can free up your staff to address calls from patients who prefer them.
Finally, digital front doors can be improved by proactively asking for, then acting on, patient feedback regarding the digital options they want and need. The Great Patient Disconnect is exacerbated when patients can’t reach you, then quietly resort to another method or even go elsewhere for their care. By recognizing that simply having a digital front door doesn’t necessarily solve patient access challenges, and a more comprehensive digital continuum is a must, you’re already on your way to creating a better experience for both patients and staff.
Staffing shortages. For the last few years, this dreaded phrase has become an all-too-familiar reality. The health care staff shortage is projected to continue, and even worsen, until 2025. Meanwhile, a recent Guidehouse Center for Health Insights report states that 95% of health system executives are expecting outpatient volumes to increase this year.
To weather these contrasting trends, establishing omnichannel digital entry points for patients is more crucial than ever to save your team time, resources and energy — as well as to create a coordinated continuum across the patient journey.
But difficult-to-navigate digital tools and the lack of capabilities that patients really need can create a conundrum where both patients and providers want to connect but struggle to do so despite existing patient engagement tools.
It’s more important than ever for practices to be able to effectively leverage their digital patient engagement and communication tools to lessen the burden on staff. Many are still recovering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic on top of current budget constraints and expiring pandemic-era funding, and are struggling to staff enough people to reach patients by phone.
Meanwhile, with limited staff, practices are following up on care missed during the pandemic, competing in a crowded health care market, caring for large numbers of attributed patients and more.
I’ve spoken to representatives of many health systems who are dissatisfied with their digital strategy. They’ve invested in platforms or solutions to make engagement easier for patients but still deal with high call rates, no-shows and low portal adoption. This is the “great patient disconnect,” where both patients and providers are engaged in the health care journey and have digital tools available, but still struggle to connect.
Despite 71% of providers reporting that patient engagement is a high priority at their practice, data from CDW Healthcare notes that just 29% of patients said they would give their providers an A in patient engagement. And while 90% of organizations offer a patient portal, overall the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that only about a third of patients use them.
This disconnect can impact both patients’ care journeys and the effectiveness of the practice. For example, if pre-visit instructions or other important information are primarily accessible in the patient portal, patients without the portal may not be prepared for their appointments or recognize that it’s time for a follow-up visit. Meanwhile, if patients struggle to access the digital tools you provide, more pressure is placed on overburdened staff to reach them via outbound phone calls.
The good news is that patients want to engage with their providers using digital tools. The ubiquity of consumer-focused apps for delivery, transportation, shopping and much more shows that consumers will consistently use a simple and intuitive digital experience. In health care, many of the hurdles that create a patient-provider disconnect are caused not by a lack of engaged patients, but by patients not having access to the tools they need.
Recent KLAS Research data, for example, show that patients often want different tools to connect with their providers, such as self-scheduling and online bill pay, from what their providers are currently offering. Even if a patient accesses your website or patient portal, if they can’t get to an actionable next step, they are likely to call in instead, contributing to the burden on staff. But these patients should not be considered disengaged from their care; in fact, they are very much engaged.
Medical Group Management Association data show that about half of surveyed providers reported an increase in no-show rates between 2021 and 2022, attributed in part to long wait times for an appointment and the cost of appointments. But the 12% of providers who reported their no-show rates were going down cited digital reminders and digital check-in options as some of the reasons for the decline. These responses indicate that accessible digital options can help patients get to your organization and get the care they need.
I believe three factors are key to helping patients better connect with you using digital tools:
Considering these factors can help you identify inefficiencies or pain points that might be quietly contributing to the great patient disconnect and increasing the burden on your staff to bridge that gap manually.
With a focus on solving potential points of disconnection, it’s possible to create patient journeys that are smoother and more streamlined and help you and your patients get more out of digital tools, creating a digital continuum of care.
In a challenging health care environment, it’s critical that we go beyond simply staffing more people to call centers or lamenting low engagement rates or high no-shows. Digital solutions can mitigate these challenges, address barriers to care and streamline staff capacity. To do so effectively, they must be driven by a patient-centered approach that identifies digital dead ends and points of disconnection and creates a unified digital continuum so patients and providers can get to the moment of care more quickly and easily.
At Houston ENT & Allergy, CEO Chuck Leider is committed to using technology to improve the experience for both patients and staff. Using Luma integrated with their NextGen EHR, Chuck and his staff get more patients in the door, provide a white-glove experience, and automate manual tasks – all creating revenue savings of $1.2 million in filled appointments, $1.8 million annually in prevented no-shows, and $575,000 in scheduled referrals.
At a Luma community summit for NextGen EHR users, Chuck shared insights that help Houston ENT & Allergy create success for patients, staff, and the system. Here are 3 things he’s focused on:
The digital patient experience journey at Houston ENT & Allergy began, fittingly, with patients’ insights.
After years of manual phone calls to remind patients about their appointments, then an automated voice reminder system, Chuck and his colleagues wondered why no-shows weren’t going down. Revenue was majorly impacted by no-shows, and providers were frustrated that they weren’t seeing as many patients as they could be.
To get to the bottom of the issue, Houston ENT & Allergy interviewed 65 patients about their experiences.
“We thought our system was highly effective. But patients were telling us that the calls came through and they didn’t pick them up. Sometimes, they didn’t recognize the number – we have a number of clinics, and they often didn’t realize we were calling about their appointments. At other times, they couldn’t take a phone call because they were in a meeting, for example.”
Houston ENT and Allergy also has a large geriatric population that reported issues hearing the message in an automated call.
With patients’ feedback, Chuck and his team realized they needed a solution that would meet the specific needs their patients pointed out. After moving to text-first appointment reminders with Luma, Chuck calculated that a 9% reduction in no-show rates saves Houston ENT & Allergy $1.8 million in annual revenue.
“Looking at the reasons our patients are having trouble getting to us, and making things simpler for them, has created huge value for our patients. Hearing from them directly has paid off,” said Chuck
As Houston ENT & Allergy has grown, their tech stack has, too. Now, Chuck is focused on eliminating redundant systems to make staff’s days simpler.
“With several different platforms, it gets very hard to train people. They’re having to master the EHR and multiple other technologies, and it’s challenging,” Chuck said. “Especially if the staff are patient-facing, navigating these systems can interfere with the white-glove experience we want to provide.”
Looking for ways to pare down systems where possible – especially when the system performs a single function – has made Houston ENT & Allergy’s day-to-day operations more efficient, and helps avoid training and re-training on many different systems.
Eliminating unnecessary technology has the additional benefit of saving money, Chuck pointed out.
“We chose to layer in Luma to request feedback after appointments, instead of using a separate system. And just getting rid of that additional system saves us $2,500 a month. With budget constraints, containing those costs makes a difference.”
Like other healthcare organizations, Houston ENT & Allergy is struggling with staff shortages but committed to providing a great experience that keeps patients coming back. According to Chuck, self-scheduling and customizing automated reminders are key to this balance.
“It is harder for us to compete for limited staff, so we look at technology to take on manual tasks,” he said.
Instead of staff “constantly monitoring the phones or on the computer personalizing each message,” reminders integrated with NextGen are automatically personalized based on each patient’s personal information, provider, appointment, and more. From scheduling referrals alone, Houston ENT & Allergy has gained $575,000 in scheduled referrals.
An automated waitlist has provided some of the biggest value to Houston ENT & Allergy. Now, instead of staff answering calls from patients who need to cancel, then reaching out manually to patients who might be able to take the appointment slot, both the cancellations and the waitlist offers are automated.
“We’ve saved over 1.2 million because of Luma’s Smart Waitlist,” Chuck said.
Finally, Chuck encourages other organizations to offer self-scheduling online. It helps reduce phone calls and follow-up, but even more importantly gives patients better access to Houston ENT & Allergy.
“We get great feedback from patients that come in and say how easy it was to get in with self-scheduling. Maybe their kid had an earache in the night, and they can find us online and book an appointment for nine o’clock the next day,” he said.
“Our website is open 24/7. Over the holidays, I saw so many patients booking appointments.”
Interested in using Luma + NextGen to see value like Houston ENT & Allergy? Contact us to learn more.
With fewer staff and more revenue challenges, healthcare organizations need to quickly reach their patients and keep schedules full.
Integrating Luma with their Epic EHRs helps Luma community members superpower their patient outreach. Using patients’ preferred messaging channels makes outreach more effective, while API-based EHR integration means no double-documentation or manual work.
Here are some ways the Luma community gets more out of their workflows.
With Luma integrated with Epic, Luma community members’ outreach is:
At Franciscan Health, reminders are customized to each patient and appointment type, making them more relevant and actionable.
Details already documented about the patient in Franciscan’s Epic system – from appointment details to preferred contact method – drive the outreach.
For example, patients who have a follow-up appointment the same day or who have previously been seen at Franciscan see different reminders than someone being seen for a new patient appointment.
With these text reminders, Franciscan Health sees a 70% click-through rate – about 50% more than with their previous email reminders.
By switching to text-first outreach, Columbus Regional Health immediately saw results. Before implementing Luma, Columbus Regional Health reminded patients about their appointments by automated call, which patients were less likely to pick up or respond to.
“We often have patients make appointments six months out, so it’s important that we provide them with reminders,” said Gayle Wilson, Senior Systems Analyst at CRH.
Luma reminders are automatically sent to patients on CRH’s schedule in Epic. To get even more out of the switch, they made the decision to move from text opt-in to text opt-out, where communication preferences in the EHR use text by default. Now, CRH is sending SMS reminders to more than 80% of their patient population.
Since delivering most reminders via text, CRH has seen no-shows drop by more than 40%.
Montefiore Health System in New York sees many of its patients via referral. To ensure as many referred patients get through their doors as possible, Montefiore sends Epic-integrated Luma messages reminding those patients to schedule.
From the message, patients can schedule with just a few taps.
The referral in the EHR is linked to the reminders to keep them up-to-date and actionable. so if a patient hasn’t scheduled, they’ll receive another nudge to schedule. When the patient schedules, the referral is closed automatically and the patient no longer receives reminders.
Want to learn more about how Luma can superpower your Epic-first workflows? Schedule a Luma 1:1 today.
For practices like Seaview Orthopaedics, “healthcare” can get in the way of patient care. Seaview’s growth was booming, but behind the scenes, manual calls and mountains of paper intake forms led to crowded waiting rooms and lost patients. It was time for a change.
“We wondered, how many new patients did we lose by not calling them back soon enough?” said Micheal Gibson, Director of Marketing, Business Development, & Patient Engagement.
New patients needed to email for an appointment, while existing patients were routed to voicemail to cancel or reschedule. Staff members budgeted hours each week to respond to emails and manually transcribe voicemails, but patients inevitably fell through the cracks.
As demand for their expertise grew, Seaview needed a modern solution that wouldn’t inhibit their growth. Staff noticed changes immediately after implementing Luma.
“Right away, our staff was able to spend more time with patients and less time on the phone. We had been considering adding more FTEs for manual tasks, but that wasn’t necessary anymore,” said Christina Flaherty, Seaview’s Director of Project Management.
Patients now schedule and change appointments in real time from their phones. The integration with Seaview’s eClinicalWorks EHR means staff see updates right in the clinic schedule – without manual transcription.
Appointment day for each patient has transformed, too.
Before Luma, patients needed to complete intake forms specific to their conditions in person while waiting for their providers. Now, bottlenecks in Seaview’s waiting rooms have virtually disappeared now that patients complete paperwork from home.
“Patients love how simple things are now. They appreciate how we send the intake forms before their appointment, instead of using up so much time in the waiting room,” said Gibson.
Seaview now has no problem welcoming in a higher volume of patients, thanks to their new automated processes, even converting former waiting room space into additional physical therapy rooms. In just five months, they earned over $765,000 ROI from increased patient volumes.
“I never thought that intake forms could be an easy process, especially because there are so many complexities in orthopedics,” said Flaherty, “With Luma, we now can focus on next-level growth.”
Healthcare providers have good reason to be concerned about data breaches. According to the HIPAA Journal, in the first half of 2022, there were 347 data breaches of 500 or more healthcare records, and healthcare providers are consistently the worst-affected type of HIPAA-covered entity.
At Luma, patient success must also mean comprehensive data security. We are proud to announce that Luma has earned HITRUST CSF certification, a validated security certification for healthcare IT companies. The HITRUST Risk-based, 2-year (r2) Validated Assessment is among the most rigorous industry security certifications, and involves the performance of onsite procedures, as well as an extensive testing program.
To find out more about HITRUST and what it means for Luma’s customers and partners, we caught up with Nick Lees, Luma’s information security and compliance director.
Why is HITRUST so important?
Our customers and partners are putting a huge amount of trust in us to securely handle their data—and their patients’ data—securely. When partnering with a vendor such as Luma, they want to ensure they are not introducing additional security risk into their business. For any HIPAA-compliant IT vendor, attaining HITRUST certification is essential.
What does attaining a HITRUST certification say about Luma?
HITRUST is the security gold standard for companies that are handling health information. By successfully completing all the steps needed to attain HITRUST Risk-based, 2-year (r2) Validated Assessment, we are assuring our customers and business partners that a) we are deeply committed to security, and b) the way we conduct business and handle sensitive data meets or exceeds recognized, industry-specific best practices.
What makes the HITRUST certification the gold standard?
Unlike security audits such as SOC 2, HITRUST certification requires that an authorized HITRUST assessor spend time onsite to observe data-handling practices and score a business across several dimensions. Luma was graded on security policy, process, and implementation, and had to achieve a specific score for all of the controls that HITRUST requires to qualify for certification.
Through this process, what did you learn about Luma’s systems and processes?
We discovered that we have a very strong and mature information security program, backed up with a fully documented set of policies, procedures and controls. These have now been independently audited and validated, so we can be sure we are supporting our customers securely.
How does this certification prepare us for the evolution of healthcare regulations?
The HITRUST certification is constantly evolving, with new control requirements being added as the healthcare tech landscape changes. Luma’s already excellent foundation is now certified against the HITRUST framework so we can drive continuous improvement and stay ahead of any new requirements.
Want to learn more? Nick joins 360Advanced to chat about HITRUST!
At Luma, the patient comes first–and our job is figuring out ways to make their healthcare journey successful. From easily paying a bill to quickly rebooking an appointment or getting a question answered via 24/7 chat, our goal is to make the hard parts of getting care easier. That’s what patient success means to us.
As our platform has grown, we’ve expanded beyond patient engagement and toward making the entire care journey successful. Our new brand reflects this shift.
So how does our patient success mission translate to our new look?
One of the most key aspects of our new brand is Luma’s new logo. This is our first new logo since our inception in 2015, and we created a logomark with a trifold meaning that represents our core values. The logomark took inspiration from the Chinese character for “light,” an energy spark, and an upward arrow, representing our name and vision for better healthcare.
Warmth has always been a key component of our branding and you can see how that translates in our new palette and visual elements. We’ve added additional vibrant colors, which lends Luma a confident, distinctive style with a dash of optimism to match our mission. We’ve also included more photography to highlight the very real faces of patients and providers.
We also updated our website to focus on the patient’s journey to success, including graphics illustrating the individualized journey, which often extends beyond the point of care. Healthcare is not transactional — it’s personal. As patients, it takes a lot of trust to put our health in the hands of another person, which is why the patient-provider relationship continues to be so essential to good care. Other industries may try to replace or automate face-to-face interactions. Our goal is to enhance them.
The future of healthcare remains bright–and here at Luma, we feel lucky to help our customers share that spark of success, connection, and care with patients.