Is the COVID Vaccine the Shot in the Arm We Need for Healthcare Access?

Colin Hung recently interviewed Chris Gervais, CTO and CSO at Kyruus; and Pamela Landis, vice president of digital engagement at Hackensack Meridian Health, for a discussion of healthcare access and the importance of that access in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gervais began by saying that Kyruus defines patient access as “the ability to ensure that patients can obtain timely care from the right provider in a convenient location.” All three of these factors must come together in order for healthcare to be truly accessible.

There are several technologies that can help improve patient access including provider matching, online appoint booking, appointment reminders, asynchronous patient communication (e.g., email, text messages, and patient portals), patient education, and patient screening and electronic forms.

“Online scheduling, especially where patients can quickly and easily self-schedule, is going to be in high demand,” Landis said. “In order to roll out the [COVID-19] vaccine effectively it’s going to require us to use online self-scheduling, texting, and patient screening tools like we never have before.”

How can patient access technologies help? First, Gervais and Landis say patients will need to be educated on the vaccine and what to expect if they get it. Patients also need clear instructions on where to go and when.

One idea about helping patients access their second vaccine came from Gervais, who mentioned the idea of using a QR code at the exit of a vaccination facility so patients can simply scan it to make their second appointment and start to receive reminders for it.

Some organizations have been using tools like those offered by Kyruus to improve patient access, while others continue to use old-school contact centers where patients must book through an agent.

“Convenience is quickly becoming a requirement of access to care,” Gervais said. “Patients want the ability to self-direct, self-schedule, and easily get their medical records. They want to find it, schedule it, and pay for it as conveniently as buying movie tickets. The COVID vaccine will put pressure on healthcare to be as efficient as possible.”

Gervais and Landis both stressed that there is a unique opportunity to improve patient access as the COVID vaccine becomes more available. They said that if the right technologies are deployed in a way that makes the vaccination process as easy, convenient, and stress-free as possible, COVID could ultimately be the catalyst for more investment in patient access.

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