A West Palm Beach Medical Group Leverages Technology to Improve the Patient Experience

March 15, 2023
At Palm Beach Pediatrics, leaders have been leveraging technology in order to improve the patient and family experience in the medical clinic setting

Creating a better patient experience in medical clinics remains a multi-faceted challenge. Patients experience levels of confusion and inconvenience that can sour them to their overall experiences in their physician visits. But some physician practice leaders are moving forward to improve the entire patient experience. One is Palm Beach Pediatrics, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, and with clinic locations in West Palm Beach and also Loxahatchee and Boynton Beach.

Palm Beach Pediatrics has seven physicians, four nurse practitioners (including a psychiatric nurse practitioner), and a clinical psychologist, and 50 employees. Given the relatively small size of the practice, PBP’s leaders understood that they needed to work with a vendor partner in order to optimally leverage technology. As a result, they chose to partner with the New York City-based Yosi Health in order to leverage technology to optimize the patient experience.

Recently, Kimberly Brennan, practice administrator at Palm Beach Pediatrics, spoke with Healthcare Innovation Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding their experiences in this area. Below are excerpts from that interview.

Tell me about how you engaged and partnered in order to improve the patient experience at your organization.

We went looking for a vendor partner and ended up choosing Yosi Health; they provide a full-range patient engagement support. Elements include online scheduling, online pre-registration, and screenings in the pre-registration process. We needed to move forward in those areas, as technology provides a communication driver for medical practices. We went live with Yosi in March 2020, just before COVID hit. We had reached out to them to eliminate the time-consuming elements and antiquated processes around intake and registration, including accepting paper documents to scan. That was the original goal, to take that process live and online; and two, to help our front desk staff to be able to be more attentive to patients, by relieving that burden. Our practice is very customer service-driven.

What was it like going live just before the onset of the pandemic?

It honestly was rather jarring. We were very fortunate we had just gone live. Other vendors were scrambling in the moment. We had started the process in 2019. It was a game-changer for us when COVID happened, because it allowed us to tell our patients we had a touch-free process. And then we asked Yoshi to set up a two-way texting system so patients could wait in their cars before being seen. And they implemented that for us within a week or so. And we’re still using that. And so our front desk people are texting patients instead of calling them, per their insurance policies; the parent can just send a picture of the card.

And this new generation of parents, they don’t want to fill out long forms, they don’t want to have to make phone calls, they want to text or email; and Yosi allows us to do both.

Were there any technical challenges in implementing this?

Any change is disruptive for patients and for staff; and the last three years have been nothing but change. But this has been one of our smoother transitions, because Yosi was really committed to testing well before going live; and because they really worked with our staff. Many of our staff have been with us for 30 years. So the Yosi folks were able to help us to really train staff properly and understand how the technology works. It’s just there in the patient chart, it’s just there and labeled for us.

One of the elements you have is younger parents, who themselves grew up with high levels of technology engagement. What do they expect from the patient/family experience in a medial practice?

They appreciate, when we make changes, they appreciate knowing when we might have a new provider, for example. They have a higher expectation for being communicated with than parents of the past. The other thing is that they want the feeling of a concierge service. Our whole approach to practice for pediatrics s that it’s a large practice filled with small-practice care. You have staff who recognize you and know you when you come in the door, but you get the convenience of a larger, “big-box” setting. They want quick, responsive communication, with that personal feel.

Consumers got used to demanding a high level of retail, etc. service, during the pandemic, whereas in healthcare, they had never experienced the same level of service as they had already been experiencing in the retail and other consumer-facing sectors.

Yes, absolutely. Everything became “on demand.” And it was positive, because healthcare needed a big shift to telehealth. Yet in pediatrics, telehealth might not be the answer. I might be comfortable for myself, doing telehealth, but with a baby, for example, who can’t speak or explain what’s wrong with them, you need that direct in-person contact. So we do do telehealth, but we often need in-person care.

So we have to really be creative with patients and families, and communicate with them what’s possible. You might not be able to get your preferred provider at a particular time, at a particular location. We have to help them navigate that. Per the pandemic, they’re used to having everything done exactly as they’d like. And we have to not do that for one family at the expense of another.

Are you measuring your patient experience through any metrics? Are you conducting surveys?

Absolutely; Yosi actually does our surveys for us, and they appear on a dashboard, and we can view them at any time. And this is the world of the Google review; and we make it clear that we can address any issues on the part of patients. I and our clinical director are available to respond to issues or complaints. So we try hard to tailor that service experience, so they don’t necessarily have to go online and post a bad review, so that we can address their issue.

What have been the biggest lessons learned in all this?

One is that if you’re considering enhancing your practice with technology, just bite the bullet and do it; but use some scrutiny. There are a lot of HC technology solutions. But sometimes, they’ll sell your practice information or solicit information from patients. That was one of the attractions of Yosi. They would contact us first, and are very respectful towards us. A lot of practices don’t realize what they’re signing onto. And the other piece of it is, viewing technology changes and patient engagement as being a part of quality. We’re quality measure-focused and are involved in value-based contracting already. And if we know this is where healthcare is going, we can’t fight it. If this is where we’re going, we want to be a pioneer; we don’t want to be scrambling ten years from now to do these kinds of things. It’s important to remember in talking about patient engagement. And in the pediatric world and the adult world, the generation of patients is changing, and if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that what once worked may not work anymore; and we owe it to our patients to be constantly evolving, and not stagnant.

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