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11 Brand New Patient Communication Survey Results

11 Brand New Patient Communication Survey Results and What They Mean

It feels like COVID-19 has changed everything about the way you deliver healthcare, but what does the latest data tell us about that? This webinar gives insights from the latest research on patient communication.

Transcript:

LEA CHATHAM: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us today. We're going to be talking about 11 brand new patient communication survey results and what we think they mean. My name is Lea Chatham and I'll give some introductions here in just a second, but first we're going to just take care of a couple housekeeping things. We had quite a lot of people registered for today and I can see that there are still a number of people logging in, so hopefully by the time we get through a couple of high level items here everybody will be in. First, I wanted to suggest that people connect with us on our social media pages. It's just a great way to stay up on what is going on Solutionreach and SR Health Share platform on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We do share quite a bit of our own research and content, as well as thought leadership from other people, a lot of talk about what's going on right now and updates around what you can be doing to support your patients during COVID-19, as well as reminders about events like these. It's a great way to stay connected.

 

We would like to encourage everyone to ask questions as we're going along today. It's pretty easy to do. Just click on that little arrow next to questions, enter your question as we're going. We'll do our best to answer questions at the end. If you have a technical issue, please put that in there as well and we'll do our best to resolve any problems that you may be having. One of the most common questions we get, technical questions that we get, is about audio. If you're having any problems with your audio, we recommend going up to the audio tab, selecting that, and changing from computer audio to phone and dialing in. I will just mention we've had a couple of little audio issues, so that may happen and that can be the better way to get that resolved, by switching from computer to phone. If you are currently a customer of Solutionreach or SR Health and you are having any technical issues, we'd encourage you to go to the community and community.solutionreach.com and reaching out to support for those. We're not always able to answer questions like that here. 

 

Other common questions, we are going to be sending out an email later with the recording as well as the slides. You can also download the slides here in the handouts. You have that as an option for handouts on your toolbar, so you can click into there. Some people are not able to download from there. Don't worry. You will get those slides via email as well. 

 

As I mentioned, my name is Lea Chatham and I'm the Director of Content Marketing for SR Health by Solutionreach. I have been working in this field for about 20 years, 15 of which has been in producing educational content for providers and healthcare workers of various kinds, but I also spent five years doing patient engagement marketing and education for small integrated health systems, so I hopefully I bring some insights from both sides. Then I'm joined by Justin Everette, who's our VP of Marketing here at SR Health by Solutionreach. Justin, do you want to just take a minute to introduce yourself and share a little bit about yourself?

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Yeah. Of course. That's kind of a fun way to do an audio check too, right? Yeah.

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah, totally.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: I'm Justin Everette. Like Lea said, I'm the VP of Marketing at SR Health by Solutionreach. Been with the company for going on five years now, which has flown by, except for 2020, which has crawled by. I've been in the patient communication, patient engagement space for about 15 years now. Really the bulk of my marketing career. What else do people want to know? I'm a graduate of the University of Alabama. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. That's where the company is based. Lea works remotely. That's the background of me. Lea and I work pretty closely together, but between us, gosh, it's going on 30 years, maybe 30 years plus of patient engagement and patient communication experience. Hopefully the insight we can share today from what we've found from our patient survey and our own perspective on that. Hopefully you'll find it helpful and fun as well.

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah, totally. I feel like I didn't share any interesting personal insights. Like Justin said, I do work from home and I'm based in Montana, so we get a lot of really cool wildlife. Fun fact, I saw a little pack of coyotes this morning while I was having my coffee. Okay. Let's see if we can share some data insights. We're going to just start with a little bit of an overview on the surveys. The interesting thing about this presentation today is that we have the unique opportunity to actually do surveys and compare them. We had already conducted a survey which we had been planning for several months, and we had finished that survey in February, where he had surveyed over 1,100 patients, asking them about patient communication preferences across the patient journey. Then COVID-19 hit and we sort of felt like maybe these insights are not accurate anymore, and what if this changes during this period that we're in this pandemic? 

 

A couple of months ago we decided to go ahead and rerun the survey and try to get a sense of what had changed or what had not changed. What were some of the experiences patients were having during this COVID-19 pandemic period around patient communication and the patient journey? We were presented with that unique opportunity to really compare some of those experiences and look at opportunities for automation and how patients were feeling about things like texts and telehealth, and how they felt their healthcare providers were communicating with them and what that experience was like. Did they feel like they were being heard of that their questions were being answered? It really was a great opportunity to gather that information and compare it, to be able to share that with you today, which like I said, we're excited to do.

 

A couple of key themes that we found. One, that patient satisfaction did slip a bit from pre-COVID-19 to this during the pandemic period. Patients did show an increased interest in automated communication and are more receptive to telehealth going forward. Okay. I might have stolen your thunder.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: It's all thunder right now, you guys. Those are the three big things that popped. We'll dive into each of those and give a little more context and a little more background. I wanted to start here. This stat is not part of the survey, nor is this particularly unique stat. We pulled this from MJH Life Sciences just to point to the revenue hit that everyone's taking right now as a result of COVID. The stat we pulled said there's been a 36% hit there. You can find this stat in about 40 different ways from 40 different sources, so we wanted to share this here. This was not surprising. You know this, you feel it, but I'm showing it here because the challenging question is what do we do about it? Everyone's struggling, and one of the ideas that I want to put in front of you today and that I think the data that you'll see strongly supports is the way forward here is going to require new ways to connect with patients. How can we deliver care in a way that supports patient volume and the associated revenue? Whether that's virtually, through telehealth, or even in a more hybrid way. 

 

I put hybrid in air quotes, but you can't see me do it. A hybrid way that's just a blending of virtual and in-person care, as the situation dictates, which I know many of you are doing now. Not just the care delivery itself, but what are some efficiency gains that can help offset that revenue hit? Communication processes that we'll be in here touching on today, that's an area that's just ripe for efficiency gains in a way that you'll see actually meets what we've been able to source in terms of patient preferences and even demands. I start with this stat because it just gives us a good reference point for why some of the other findings from the SR Health survey matter. Not just what are the numbers, but why do they matter and what might their implications be?

 

The first one hitting on that theme that Lea mentioned is around patient satisfaction. I've been alluding to, a little bit early on, that communication is an opportunity. We'll start with this stat that represents overall patient satisfaction before and during COVID. Remember, like Lea explained, the survey we were able to do is pretty fortuitous timing for us because we were pulling this before COVID hit, and being able to bookend that from the real ramp of COVID over the last... and go back and resurvey the market over the last month or so gave us a way to kind of squeeze patient preferences on either side of COVID really taking off in the US. Back to patient satisfaction, overall satisfaction with providers communication, it's down 7%. COVID has highlighted or really exposed some real gaps in patient communication and engagement. Patients may have been fine before the pandemic, but that's changed. Suddenly patients needed some really critical information very quickly and regular contact and updates. Many of us as providers and many patients were unprepared and it showed up, and it's something that's been a challenge we've had to work through. 

 

In the pre-COVID survey, a lot of patients responded or were asked, were they satisfied with their communication with providers? That question covered a lot of communication attributes. It's were yous satisfied, and if so, why? What are the things that contribute to your positive feeling towards the way your providers communicate with you? When we went back to patients since COVID set in, we asked the same questions, and these three attributes saw the sharpest decline as a positive driver of patient satisfaction. Those were timeliness, and we'll dive into each of these, those were timeliness, those were thoroughness and patients feeling like their questions were being answered, and then the last of those was feeling heard. 

 

We move into that first one. On that last screen is timeliness, that was the first one I mentioned. Well, why has that one taken a hit? The struggle to get out the most accurate information quickly, I think that partly explains the drop in patients feeling like messages are timely. Lea can speak to this too. We felt from the SR Health side of things, as a partner with healthcare organizations, we felt how we supported them in getting info out to their patients, we felt that need for timeliness and that push and that drive and that scramble to get it out there. We sent just north of 63 million messages out to patients. 

 

That first week of COVID explosion in the US, that mid-March range, just that first week alone, 63 million messages. Those were just informational. It was things like changes to appointment procedures, closing or adjustments to operating hours, even more general health and safety precautions, which were especially really important early on when this ramped up in the US. There was this sprint by providers to get information to patients. Part of the reason for that was to be a source of truth during COVID. When there's so much conflicting information in the media and elsewhere. Depending on where you spend your time in the media and where your eyeballs are, there's a lot of conflicting stories. It was a real opportunity for providers to be that source of truth. 

 

There's also that need to deliver timely communication when things need to be adjusted. Maybe when an in-person appointment needs to become virtual, for example. Without communication and really timely communication there, we hear and see, and I'm sure you can all point to instances where patients maybe show up in person and find out the appointment has been changed to telehealth, or patients show up unprepared for new processes. For example, maybe they need to text from the parking lot when they arrive. Having that lack of communication, timely communication there, it's frustrating and it can create a bad experience.

 

I think that we're all trying to spin more plates or juggle more balls, or whatever metaphor you want to use, at one time and it's hurt us in how patients rated timeliness in communication now that COVID has set in. Lea, I think we've got a poll here. I'll let you introduce it and launch it.

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah, we do. It's kind of a two part poll actually. We wanted to get a sense of how everyone's feeling with did we have the right balance in timeliness of communication, so in your organization. We'll give everyone about 30 to 40 seconds to fill this out and then we've got a follow-on question around that as well. We're just really interested to see if your experience or your perception of your experience matches some of the feedback we've seen here from patients. All right. We're at 30 seconds with about 40% of you having voting. We'll give it five more seconds and see if we can get to 45 or 50%, get a good sense of how it's looking. Okay. 

 

I'm going to close this one and share it out and give everybody a chance to see those results. I think it's interesting. About an equal number of people felt like it was just right versus not right or not really. Then the other half are somewhat more kind of in the middle, so I think it supports a lot of what we are seeing in this data. Not just our data but other people's data that everyone has struggled a little bit during this period of COVID in terms of being able to get stuff out in a really timely way because there's so much to communicate.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Lea, I just wanted to add, those of you who responded in that way, if you would, just pop it in the chat or in the questions, kind of tell us, if you say yeah, we sort of got it right, or not really, we didn't really get it right, we loved it, I'll have you give us a couple comments and go to webinar there and let us know why. 

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah. No, that's a great idea. I'd love to see what people have to say about what some of the challenges were and why they felt like maybe it didn't go that well. One of those challenges, the one we're really interested in a lot of the time is whether or not you've been able to use patient's preferred communication channels. We've often found that that can be one of the big challenges is we had many customers who came to us and asked for more flexibility or ability to do more text messaging because a lot of them found that using a phone was impractical. Obviously, how could you communicate with thousands of patients in 24 hours through the phone. We're kind of interested to know what other peoples experience has been around that in terms of being able to reach patients through those preferred methods and get those messages out. We'll give everybody, again, another two or three seconds here to see. Okay. We'll close that out.

 

It's about half and half between people who said yes, they feel like they have, and the ones who said sometimes. I'm guessing the sometimes are probably similar to some of the folks, some of our customers, who really shifted a lot of stuff more to text messaging and started using that even more heavily during the COVID period because they needed that immediate ability to do that; immediate communication. Thank you everyone for sharing that, and I noticed a few of you are also throwing in some comments here. One of you mentioned that one of the big challenges has been that the situation is so dynamic you don't always know what you don't know, which I think is a great way to sum up what this COVID pandemic period has been like. All right. Justin, I think, let's go forward here to our next piece on the satisfaction.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Yeah. The second of drivers, what's less frequently noted as a positive attribute of patient communication is feeling like questions aren't being answered. 10% of the time ahead of COVID, that was what a patient would site and say yeah, I'm really happy with communication. That's down to 3% now. We know that patients want to engage and be more involved, but they don't always know how. If they have questions, that's a sign of participation. You need to be able to respond and engage and give patients a way to get in touch with you in a way that's easy, convenient for them, also efficient for your time. I thought that was an interesting statistic. 

 

Then the next one, the last of these three drivers, is this decrease in feeling heard. I think that goes alongside that notion of getting questions answered and making that convenient and making that easy for patients. Again, close to 10% of the time, 9% of the time, that was noted before COVID as something that was really driving positive feelings and emotions toward satisfaction with providers communication. No one, of the 300 plus survey respondents from the back end, said that's what's driving positive communication. I thought that was pretty eye opening. On top of this, just a little more context, basically four out of five patients, 77% say they with their doctor would listen more. Again, half of patients say that communication is one of their top complaints, so a little more context for that. Lea, I'll turn it over to you. I know we wanted to get to a couple of these other themes as well.

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah, absolutely. Like we said early on, a couple areas where we really focused in on the experience people were having were things like text messaging, which has really become a bigger communication tool during this period because of the speed with which we need to communicate with people, and then also we'll come to another big one a little bit later, which is talking about telehealth. We saw that people definitely have found that text messaging is becoming even more and more preferred. There's so much data out there about the growth in preference for text messaging over the last five to 10 years. That has just been amplified by this COVID situation.

 

We know that people don't answer their phone as much. There's quite a bit of research about that. One of the key statistics that I'm always calling out is this one about 20% of people say they don't even check their voicemail anymore. How effective phone calling be if people aren't answered their phone and they're not even checking their voicemail? The survey definitely showed, and so has some other recent data, that people have a reference now for really more of that anytime, anywhere access, which is really what text messaging gives you. Pre-COVID, that example I would always use had to do with being at the coffee shop, and of course now, that doesn't exist really the same way that it used to, but I used to say all the time, think about it, when you're standing in line at Starbucks, everyone's on their phone and most people are reading text messages or reading alerts on their phone. They're not calling. Very few people anymore are on their phone having a chat. It's really all this discrete communication. We certainly saw that that has grown by 14%. 

 

We've seen a drop in interest of phone calls of 14%, so people are that much less likely to want a phone call. They're really looking for those more digital based communication tools. We did also see that there's been a slight increase in the interest in automated communication. These types of communications that can be set up and automated appeal to patients right now. Any time it's more discrete, it's easier, it's more convenient. I think this is true across a wide range, and we'll talk a little bit about some of the areas where people were most interested in the automated communication, but really across the patient journey, whether it's the reminders and confirmations or it's copay collection or pre-visit instructions or followup education. All of those things have really increased in terms of people's interest.

 

We've seen a real increase in not just the automated communication, but like we said, things like telehealth. People are just more open to technology and it's really been, I think, that there's just so many changes, life changes, that people are approaching things differently and seeing the benefits when life feels chaotic, as it does right now, obviously. The ability to have things come to you in an automated way that's easy to access and respond to has a lot of appeal. 

 

We did ask people to actually give some quotes about their abouts around automated communication. These are a couple of examples of things that people had to say. Being able to get quick responses from my doctor to questions means less time in the office, so less time spent in the office, for something that a quick message could have answered. It gives the doctor time to see patients who need to be seen. We certainly see that that is true, both for providers and for staff. When somebody has quick, easy questions and they can text back and forth with those, that is time saved for everyone. The phone in general takes longer. What takes two to four minutes on the phone takes less than 30 seconds via text message. For patients, this quote, the quicker I can get answers concerning my health, the better I feel. It's frustrating when you have to wait a long time or you have to keep calling back or keep following up, especially, I think, now. We know what a challenge it's been around COVID testing. 

 

Everything feels a little more stressful for people. I think one of the reasons that we're seeing quicker speed to formation, access to information, highlighted in this study is that people are more on edge, more nervous about their healthcare. You just want to get the answers and know you're okay or know that your next step is, and using automated communication or back and forth text messaging is faster and more convenient for people. 

 

We also saw, again, kind of across these, we saw that text messaging is definitely growing in people's perception of how effective it is for specific types of communication. We asked people about phases within this patient journey. We kind of broke it down into a couple of different categories. Scheduling is obviously things like scheduling an appointment, getting reminders, getting pre-visit instructions, referrals, those kinds of communications. 63% of respondents said that they feel like text is a really effective means to communicate those things. Patient care is actually things like getting post-visit summaries or care instructions, reminders around your care plan or healthy behaviors, post-visit surveys, things like that. Again, 60% felt like text was a really effective means to communicate around that. 

 

Financials, collecting copays or post-visit payments, updating financial information, the number is a little bit lower, but still more than half of people felt like text was an effective means for that. I'll say that I think people don't even know that you can do text reminders and mobile payments in healthcare, so my feeling is that number would be higher if more people were aware that that's an option. Then on the patient outreach side, where we're talking about things like, say, proactive outreach around preventative care or informing people that changes to what's going on in the community around COVID. Again, over 60% of people felt like text messaging was an effective way to communicate those things. I really think that we're just seeing the shift here to text messaging being really a key and leading way to communicate effectively with people when timeliness is of the essence. 

 

Again, we asked people, give us your feedback around that. We saw that those were the kind of responses people had. It's a lot simpler, I prefer it over other options, you can take care of it when you have the time instead of being interrupted, which is often what you hear now in research about phone calls. It feels like you're being interrupted or it's invasive or inconsiderate. It's easy to get a quick response without a lot of effort, it's easy to use, I know instantly when I have a message, I can respond from anywhere. All these same kind of themes coming up over and over about anytime, anywhere convenient access to being able to communicate back and forth. We want to throw out another poll since we've been talking about texts and get a feeling for what your experience has been around text messaging during this time as well. The first question is whether or not your patients have the ability to initiate text messages and does your organization do this kind of back and forth real time text messaging with patients. 

 

While we're doing that, I think that we were saying that part of the issue is this timely information and how texting can really help with that. I just had a friend who said that she had an appointment that actually was changed at the last minute, but she's also a provider. She is a physical therapist, and she had cleared her schedule for that day to go to an in-person appointment because it was an appointment that couldn't be done via telehealth. She got a call the day before saying that the appointment had been canceled and had to be rescheduled. Well, the thing about that is that if they'd been able to get her that information sooner, faster, in a more convenient way, she might have been able to schedule patients for that day. She lost an entire day of seeing patients. Her patients were inconvenient, she was inconvenient. Then she had to do it again for the rescheduled appointment. It just kind of highlights right now how often appointments are changed or rescheduled or there are problems and how important it is to get people that information quickly.

 

All right. I'm going to close this up and share it. Okay. Two-thirds of you feel like your patients are not able to do that, you don't have that kind of real communication via text message back and forth, which is not surprising. I think a lot of organizations have not implemented that kind of technology. I'm going to hide that. Then we will hop into our next section here. Thanks everybody for responding to that. Okay. Justin, I'm going to hand it over to you to talk a little bit about telehealth.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Yeah. The telehealth part of the survey, I can't remember if Lea mentioned this at the beginning, but this is not a before and after COVID. We only asked this on the back end because it, all of a sudden, became a lot more timely, but I'm glad we did. I want to share just several of the findings we found here. I'll stay by saying, healthcare, we've really been catching up to the interest in telehealth for some time. For several years now, studies have suggested that many patients are interested in telehealth and this survey was no exception, but it's really been payers that have held healthcare back with CMS and others being slow to cover telehealth and continuing with many restrictions on how it can be done and delivered. That's changed with COVID-19. I've heard from many of you and many of your peers that COVID really forced our hand to change here. Fortunately, patients have proven themselves willing to give this a shot. 

 

The number on the screen here, basically two out of three patients, I always do two out of three or four out of five. I just always picture a room and how many people raised their hands, so thanks for bearing with me there. 63% said they feel comfortable participating in telehealth visits. Obviously, there is a lot we can and should be doing communication wise to increase that comfort, to take that number even higher. We need to make it as friction-less as possible, where patients don't have to download any apps or even have to remember a username and password to participate. Gosh, I put myself in those shoes. I'm the worst about remember usernames and passwords. If I have to download an app, I'm like forget it. 



Aside from friction-less, from a communication standpoint, we should be sending texts with pre-visit instructions. Just spell out very clearly exactly what they need to do and even give them a link that makes it as simple as clicking and getting into the visit. The point here of what I'm trying to say is I think make it easy, make it convenient, and you're going to be well on your way to making it comfortable and taking this 63% even higher. We know that the pandemic, it's likely to continue until there's a viable vaccine that can be distributed widely. It makes sense that patients expect there to be a mix of telehealth and in-person visits, just depending on what's happening in their own communities or locally, regionally with the virus. If there's a spike in certain areas. A healthcare organization and all have got to be prepared to shift back towards telehealth if the circumstances require it. 

 

One of the more interesting findings from the survey from my perspective, I think, really points to how icky we might expect telehealth to be not tomorrow, but down the road. We asked patients what kind of telehealth appoint mix, if any, will they want down the road? I am saying down the road, even when it's completely safe again to be there in person. 60% said they'll still want some level of telehealth component, either telehealth only, which a quarter of the respondents said, or an even larger percent of patients said they want some kind of a mix, some kind of a balance between telehealth and in-person. I love this question. I'm glad it got into the survey because it gets us thinking about making sure we have telehealth solutions in place that are not just duct tape; these of the moment kind of fixes. We can think with a more longterm mindset, we can step back, take a deep breath, and look at what might that support, virtual or hybrid, hybrid care and virtual and in-person mix. What might best support that in a safer environment? She should start looking at those more permanent solutions right now.

 

Then the third stat I wanted to share here, I usually hesitate to use the term new normal myself because I don't know what normal can look like for me tomorrow and I certainly don't know what that's going to look like later this year and down the road. On the last slide, we saw that the majority of patients are embracing telehealth. This statistic is telling us that they expect to stick as part of the new normal anyway. Whether they like it or not, it's going to be part of the new normal. COVID-19, it pushed everyone to get on-board with this option, and anecdotally, we're hearing that the use of telehealth has many benefits. It's not just helping organizations keep up revenue and see patients. We pointed to that big revenue hit we've taken at the beginning of the presentation. It's not just that. It's not just helping stand that up. In some cases, it's allowing them to see more patients while keeping the cost of PPE down. Aside from that, it works. 

 

A couple more numbers on the screen there, 75% of visits are deemed to be unnecessary for in-person or could be handled safely and effectively over the phone or video. Sitting right alongside that, patients, from their perspective, reported that telemedicine visits resolved their concerns 85% of the time. It can work when the case is right. Patients are acknowledging that just having access to treatment is more important than an in-person experience. 76% of consumers prioritize access to treatment over a face-to-face visit. 

 

When you pull these patient survey responders together into a telehealth story, we see three things. A, we see they expect it to be part of their new normal. B, most patients feel comfortable engaging in telehealth and they even prioritize access to treatment over that in-person interaction in terms of where they rank those in importance. Then C, even when it's completely safe again, COVID is out of the picture, as much as it can be, they'll still want to find a mix of both virtual and in-person care in some way. Those three things, that telehealth story, that are backed up by the voice of the patient here, it reinforces the need to go get a longterm telehealth and virtual care solution. Not only a solution, but a workflow that's really manageable and routine to get those pieces in place. Lea, I know we've got another poll here, so I'll let you take it away. 

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah, we do. Again, we kind of wanted to get a sense of where everyone that's here today is in comparison to what we're seeing in the data or what we're hearing from our customers. This first one is whether or not you're currently offering this mix of in-person and virtual visits, as we're hearing that many organizations are doing, and just kind of getting a sense of where everybody is right now. We'll give everyone another 10 or 15 seconds to answer that and then we'll do a little followup on that as well. Like Justin was saying, what we're seeing, for those of you who are saying no in this survey, I think one of the things we're seeing is people are just struggling with the workflow and having all of the tools and everything they need to able to effectively offer this mix of in-person and virtual visits. Even for those who are doing it, that that was the biggest challenge early on in launching that. Looks like we've got a pretty decent number of responses, so I'm going to close and share that one.

 

We've got 81% saying yes they are and about 19, 20% saying no. I think that's kind of what we're seeing anecdotally as well. I'm going to hide that. Then we'll do a followup, which is have you felt like you've had the tools to effectively support that? We did a webinar not that long ago talking about people cobbling together and just doing their best to sort of make it work. Some organizations have felt like they have been able to partner with vendors to create a really great workflow that supports that, where others have really felt like there have been a lot of shortcomings or challenges and it's been tough to support the workflow and make it all work in a seamless way. We'll give everybody here just another second or two to respond to that one. We'll share the results out. It's a challenging thing. We've been talking about how COVID highlighted the need to be able to communicate more effectively and faster, be more nimble in patient communication, but obviously it's also created this environment around visits and showed us how hard it is to be nimble around changing the way we see patients. All right. I'm going to close that up.

 

We're a little less than 50/50 here, so I'll share those. 58% said yes and 42% said no. I think just highlights the fact that it is what people want, it is something that everyone's becoming more comfortable with, but it's very challenging to be able to make that switch and support it effectively without tapping out your resources. Okay. Moving on to our next piece here, there we go. We're just going to sum up and recap and then we'd love to answer questions for you guys about what we've talked about today. Really, what we're seeing is that there has been a little bit of a slip in patient satisfaction during COVID. It's the things I think we all knew maybe were being highlighted by the challenges presented by having to very quickly get information out to patients, change the way we're seeing patients, and that's reflected in the fact that patient satisfaction has slipped a little bit around things like timeliness, feeling heard, getting our questions answered, and part because they may have more questions and need more support right now and in part because it's very difficult to communicate that quickly with that many people. 

 

Part of the solution to that is a desire for more automated communication; being able to communicate with patients through digital channels, having more of that be automated or provide an ability to communicate back and forth and more quickly respond so that we can improve the access that patients have and the ability for them to feel like that communication is more timely, more relevant, and faster in terms of both getting you their questions and getting the responses. Then obviously that patients really are receptive to telehealth. Not just now during this COVID period, but in an ongoing way. I agree with Justin about this idea of constantly saying, it's the new normal or these are unprecedented times. I think we're all probably tired of hearing those phrases, but really, we have pushed telehealth into the forefront here, in the same way that texting messaging, I think, has come forwards as a bigger thing. Hopefully what we'll see is that the federal government and payers and states really acknowledge this. I was doing some research this morning around things that impact costs of healthcare and what different types of organizations, whether they're health systems or payers can do to make a difference. 

 

I was amazed to see how much data there already is about how much the use of telehealth can cut costs in healthcare. It's pretty staggering. It's not just something patients are open to. It really is something that could change the way we provide healthcare in the longterm, not just in the COVID period. We do definitely want to make sure we've got time to get questions. I'm going to throw this up on the screen. This is just if you want to reach out to us, info@srhealth.com. Like we said, we will be sending out an email that will have the recording as well as the slides. I'm already getting people asking, messages saying, can I share this? When is the recording coming? Yes. We'll make sure you get the recording and get the slides. You can share that with anybody you want. 

 

We're happy to do that, but we've got some great questions here, Justin. I'm going to jump in. One of the first ones, not at all surprising, is about what kind of data we have around generations and text messaging. I'm going to let you take that one because we've done other research about this and talked about it a lot over the years.

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Yeah. I'm glad Katerina asked that question. I was looking at it too. There wasn't as much in this survey on that, but let me walk back in time just a little bit. I think it was either 2017 or 2018, Lea, we did our patient provider relationship study we called it. There was a huge focus on generational differences and communication. One of the parts I'll call out was we asked about text messaging in two ways. We asked, do you want to receive text messages from your providers? I think it was roughly, on an overall basis, roughly three-quarters of patients that we asked said yes. It kind of followed what you'd expect from a generational perspective.

 

I think Millennials was the youngest age group at the time we asked. We asked Millennials, Gen-Xers and Boomers. Millennials were up in the 95% range, 90-95%. Really high with Gen-Xers too, but I was really surprised at responses from Boomers and older who a clear majority said they want to receive texts from their providers. The other part of this, and this goes back to a poll question we asked earlier on can patients text you to initiate a conversation. Not just respond to something you send them, but do they want to be able to have a two way avenue and to communicating with you. We asked it then, and again, the numbers were really high. I think it was somewhere between 65, 70% from that older generation on. Do you want to be able to do this with your provider? Whether it's on the receiving end of text communication or on the starting a conversation with texts, across generations, it was really encouraging to see that yeah, the desire is there. It just kind of speaks to this more general shift that Lea spoke to on the nature of automated communication and the desire for that. That was a long answer to the question. Hopefully that was helpful.

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah. I think it's good because the question comes up whenever we're talking about patient communication and we mention text messaging. This question comes up. There's still an ongoing sense that maybe people over 50 or over 60, I don't even want to say over 50 anymore because I'm almost 50 and that makes me feel really old, but that there's less interest in text messaging. Outside of our own research, there's tons of data suggesting that it's really the fastest growing group using social media, using smart phones, using text messaging. Their interest is growing by the day, quite frankly. It's an interesting change. 

 

There's another question here that's following on that about whether or not patients prefer to use these digital payment solutions, and specifically the person here is asking about things like Apple Pay or digital wallets. I don't have data specifically about individual applications, but I do have some data about digital payment solutions in general. There is a pretty significant interest on the part of patients in using more digital solutions for getting their bills, as well as paying them, but there's also a really interesting data point that we found in some of the research we did. 

 

I want to say that this piece of data came from Change Healthcare. It was that you can increase your overall collections by as much as 25% by using digital solutions to collect payments for patients, which I think just reinforces that it's a preference for patients, they are more likely to pay, it's just more convenient. It also tends to be faster. One of the things that we know about the revenue cycle management is that the longer it takes you to collect from patients, the less you collect. If you get to 90 days, you're only likely to collect 60%. With digital solutions, often you find out that patient due amount, you can get that about the same day. You're not waiting on a print statement cycle of another 20 days or something like that. Yes. All the indications are that patients do prefer to use digital solutions. Whether or not that's necessarily Apple Pay versus some other solution that sends them a reminder I can't say for sure, but digital, yes. The more digital, the better. I think it's worth thinking about.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Yeah. Can I take one here? Brian asked a question about since telehealth visits are becoming more and more the norm, that new normal in quotations, how can providers improve their online communication skills? I think this may be a little bit of a diversion with this question, but I think just overall, it depends on if you consider this online, but certainly text, touch, type communication around it, I think one of the real opportunities here is just nailing that workflow with how you're getting the telehealth instance, the video instance, into the hands of the patient and making sure that you're doing it well ahead of time, that you're clearly communicating that. I'm a big proponent of using text for this because it's so easy, it's so in your face, it's so clickable. Really obvious to say hey, here's the link you're going to use. 

 

Our chief product officer, Nagi, he was telling me about he recently had an appointment that was a telehealth appointment. He said six minutes before his appointment he still had no clue what the link for that is and he's just kind of waiting. I think really nailing that workflow and how you get well out in front of that is helpful, helps with the patient satisfaction and feeling like they've got that timely communication like we talked about. Again, another aspect to look at here is just making it friction-less; make it where they don't have to download an app to participate. Make it where they don't have to remember a username and password. If you can make it as simple as hey, here's the instructions, click this hyperlink piece of the text or what have you, and make it super easy, I think that's going to go a long way from a patient satisfaction standpoint, not to mention how it'll help you from an efficiency standpoint and just eliminating any potential confusion there. 

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah. I would add to that, we actually do a lot of proprietary research and we have done some additional research on things like timing, cadence and timing on communications, like reminders, and there were definitely some evidence of best practices around things like when you should be sending communications, getting patient preferences around communications in terms of not just the medium but do they want three reminders or do they just want one, would they like it the week before, do they want it via text? There's a lot you can do to really increase how likely patients are to see and respond to those communications by just working on improving your tracking. Now, actually, we've been saying to a lot of smaller practices who are saying, we're trying to keep our staff busy and a good task for them, actually, is during these many communications they're doing around COVID-19 to say hey, we want to make sure we can reach you, so we're updating all of our contact information and your preferences. Here's how you can update your preferences with us right now. It's a good time to do it and really look for ways to improve that communication by being more responsive to what your patients are looking for. 

 

I did want to mention too, if you want to download any of this research, you can go to srhealth.com and you'll see we have a navigation item called Insights. In that section, all of these research reports are in that Insights section. There's a section for guides, white papers, so if you're interested in learning more about any of that. What were you going to say, Justin?

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Well, I was just going to address, Sarah had a question about were there any findings around having materials in offices and how people feel about that? That is not something we asked in the survey, but that's really interesting. Also, a second part of that question was what types of contact less materials patients want? We did not ask that as part of this survey, but man, that would be a great topic for next year. We need to figure out how to team up with Sarah and let's go do that together. 

 

LEA CHATHAM: I was going to say, we did ask people about that sort of patient outreach piece and care education piece and did they think that tools like email and text were effective. That was very high. You saw here about text because we felt that was important. It was like 61%. I think email was fairly similar. People did express an interest in getting those kinds of followup care adherence and education materials through digital means, and I think, as we talk about this COVID period, anything you can move from being paper to being digital is going to be an improvement. The less stuff people have to touch. 

 

The thing is, and this conversation we were just having about more effective communication, one of the challenges of doing this hybrid care approach where you're seeing patients both in person and virtually is that you have to have a virtual way to do almost every step of the patient journey to support that, because whether patients come in or not, you're trying to remove ways of transmitting germs for those coming in and you're trying to make sure you can support every aspect of the journey for those who aren't coming in physically. There's a lot of benefits to be able able to get those educational materials out to people through digital means.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: I alluded to this early, early in the presentation, we certainly saw right out of the gate in March when COVID was taking off, just from our own organizations that we partner with and how much communication they were pushing out to their patients to try to be that source of truth for all kinds of different things, something like 63 million different patient communications we sent out that were that educational piece alone. Not appointment and reminders and stuff like, which we always do a high volume of, but it was more informative types of emails and texts and what have you. The demand was certainly there.

 

LEA CHATHAM: Yeah. We did have a question here about is voice still effective? I kind of responded back asking is the question was more about automated or in-person conversations, but I do want to just go back to that initial statistic that we shared that the feeling about how effective phone was had dropped by 14%. There has definitely been an ongoing decrease in the interest of phone communications in general, and just reiterating some of that data that about 90% of people don't answer their phone, 20% say they don't check voicemail. There are certainly some people who still prefer phone and it's great to have solutions that give you the option so that when you're asking patients about their preferences, that option still exists, but we are certainly seeing an decrease steadily over time in the interest in using whether it's automated phone or in-person phone calls. It's on the down swing.

 

Okay. I think, Justin, unless I'm missing anything, I think we've actually managed to answer pretty much all of the questions that we got. I do want to just remind everyone that we will be sending out that email with the recording and the PDF of the slides. You're welcome to send us additional questions here at this info@srhealth.com. Also, on the way out, as we close out the webinar, there is a short survey. We'd love to have you complete that and less us know how we did today. It'll also ask you if you are interested in learning more about SR Health and the solutions that we have to help you solve some of these challenges around patient communication and patient engagement, and we would love to connect you with someone for really a more personalized conversation about that. If you're interested in that, just check yes on your way out. We'll have somebody follow up with you. Let's see. I don't see anything else. Am I right, Justin? I think we've pretty much covered it.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: We've covered it, my friend. 

 

LEA CHATHAM: We've covered it, unless anybody has any last thoughts. Okay. Thank you so much everybody for joining us today. It's been really nice to have you here for this first look at these survey results. It's been really exciting to share them with you. I hope everyone will join us again in the future for other informative webinars and even share some ideas on topics with us as you're leaving in the survey there. We'd love to hear what you're interested in. Thanks again everybody. Please stay safe out there and have a great day. Bye.

 

JUSTIN EVERETTE: Thank you. Bye.