2021 was a roller coaster of a year for healthcare providers. After a tough year, we thought vaccines would help things get back to normal—and then the Delta variant hit. From huge patient volume swings to a national staffing crisis to keeping up with massive tech advances in healthcare, 2021 was a volatile year.
What lessons did you learn? What are you taking with you into 2022? How are you going to avoid that volatility in your business next year? How are you going to create a delightful patient experience in the post-pandemic healthcare system?
Here are the lessons learned, based on the Solv content providers were engaging with the most.
Lesson #1: An efficient clinical workflow is more important than ever
Some of the content you all were reading the most in 2021 focused on the theme of making your clinical workflow more efficient and taking care of the staff you do have. With clinics being hit the hardest during COVID, your staff is burnt out and it’s becoming harder and harder to hire at the same rate that you lose people.
If you’re dealing with low staff volume or struggling with the staffing shortage, there are things you can do. Dr. Rob Rohatsch and April Gillam—who’ve hired and managed tens of thousands of healthcare professionals while boasting record-breaking NPS scores, employee career longevity, and high employee satisfaction scores—put together this webinar to help operators navigate the staffing shortage.
You should also look into technology to streamline your clinical workflow, which improves the functionality of your office processes and lightens the load on your staff! To improve your clinical workflow, start by mapping out every touchpoint that a patient has with your office, from booking their appointment through discharge. Look for redundancies, bottlenecks, or opportunities to automate processes. Removing congestion in your clinical workflow leads to faster operations and a better patient experience.
Lesson #2: Your EHR can’t power your clinical workflow
Electronic health records were built to power communication between providers about their patients. EHRs are incredibly powerful tools for cross-provider information sharing that is HIPAA-compliant. EHR systems weren’t built to power patient engagement—they weren’t built for patients at all!
Patient portals have historically low adoption rates (15%)1 due to multiple barriers of entry. We know that providers are seeing much more success with patient engagement when they implement a “swiss army knife” tool that can power multiple touchpoints in the patient journey—online scheduling, digital paperwork and consent, online wait queues, and clinic reviews—with an experience patients love. It’s also important that your tools are interoperable with your EHR system so you don’t have to duplicate data entry.
Most-read content about clinical workflow and staffing shortage
- 5 Tips to Improve The Front Desk Workflow At Your Medical Office
- 3 Strategies to Effectively Manage High Patient Volumes
- 5 Secrets to Retaining Your Medical Office Front Desk Staff
- How To Effectively Manage High Patient Volume with Limited Staff
Lesson #3: Telehealth is here to stay
The expectations for patient experience have changed dramatically in the past few years, and healthcare operators need to make adjustments to stay competitive. During the pandemic, patients’ desire for automated communications across the patient journey increased to 84%2.
The healthcare system had to switch to digital during the pandemic—at one point, telemedicine visits comprised nearly one-third of health visits3. This massive acceleration of telehealth happened out of necessity when the pandemic struck, but it has continued as the world gets back to the new normal. From a healthcare consumer perspective, telehealth adoption rose from 11% in 2019 to 46% in 20204.
Telehealth adoption remained steady in 2021. Patients spent 2.9 million minutes on video telemedicine calls through Solv in 2021.
Telemedicine providers are reporting up to 175x more appointments than pre-COVID, and 80% of patients are open to care alternatives beyond traditional doctor visits4. Adding telehealth offerings to your business is not only nice to have, it’s integral to bringing patients into your brand.
Most-viewed content about telehealth
- 5 Reasons to Offer Telehealth Right Now
- Understanding Consumer Telemed Preferences
- Beyond COVID-19: Evolving Your Urgent Care for the Future
Lesson #4: Balance low volumes with fresh ways to bring in new patients
During the early summer months, providers were reading up about marketing techniques to increase patient volumes. This is a GREAT idea! Shifting your attention to bringing in new patients when volumes are low makes a ton of sense. But which marketing efforts work the best?
Get this: Providers on Solv saw 10.4 million NEW patients in 2021. Out of all the patient volume driven by Solv to our partner clinics last year, 53% were new patients. Because Solv has a marketplace of patients—9 million healthcare consumers searching for care each month—providers who use Solv see a huge increase in new patients, as well as loyal patient bookings.
Providers are also seeing success in prioritizing efforts to boost their online reputation with patient reviews. After all, word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there.
Try out these fresh marketing techniques during your next stretch of low patient volume to drive people to your clinic during less-busy seasons.
Most-read content about marketing your clinic
- 8 Affordable Tips to Reach New Patients Now
- How to Attract More Patients With an Omnichannel Strategy
- Maximize Your Marketing Budget to Acquire New Patients
- 5 Tips to Drive Growth this Summer
Lesson #5: Patients are learning to navigate life with COVID
As patients ease back into the “new normal” post-pandemic, most of the topics they were interested in this year were about vaccines, how to handle social situations, and how to keep their families safe.
Similarly, providers were reading up on how to handle the supply surge during vaccine rollout and what fully vaccinated patients can do safely.
Most-read content about COVID and the return to normal
- Solv Puts 100M+ Americans Within Reach of a COVID-19 Vaccine in Preparation for Supply Surge
- Free Printout: What Can Fully Vaccinated Patients Do Safely?
From low patient volumes post-vaccine rollout to the Delta variant spread, to making your clinical workflow work harder for you, we made it through the last 12 months together. Here’s to the lessons we learned together in 2021, and an even better 2022.
1Medical Economics, Who does and doesn’t use patient portals, 2020
2Modern Healthcare, Study Shows COVID Impact on Patient Communication Preferences, 2020
3CDC, Trends in Use of Telehealth Among Health Centers During the COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020
4McKinsey, COVID-19 Consumer Survey, 2020