Improving the patient experience is key to the success of behavioral healthcare services. Quality care leads to higher patient satisfaction and better outcomes while reducing inefficiencies, minimizing costs, and cultivating loyalty. On the flip side, negative experiences can result in unresolved psychosocial needs, treatment non-adherence, poor health results, and reluctance to seek behavioral healthcare in the future.
Fortunately, technology can help you improve the patient experience throughout the healthcare journey, including before and after formal treatment. Self-service tools, secure communication channels, telehealth, and advanced scheduling are just a few examples that empower patients and streamline processes. In later stages, personalized care and integrated solutions ensure ongoing client and caregiver engagement for sustained wellness after treatment.
Learn more about improving patient experience at every step of the patient journey and how leveraging the right technology can enable you to achieve that mission.
Early-Stage Patient Experience: Access, Awareness, and Ease
Overcoming initial barriers to care — including cost, awareness, stigma, and logistical challenges — is crucial for ensuring access to mental health services. In 2020, more than 50% of adults with mental illness couldn't receive treatment, with 42% reporting it was primarily due to cost. Additionally, a MetLife survey highlighted a lack of awareness about mental health needs, with about 66% of workers reporting burnout.
Stigma also poses a significant barrier, with 31% of respondents in the same survey fearing social repercussions for seeking help. This fear often leads to internal conflicts and hesitancy in acknowledging mental health issues.
Logistical issues further complicate access to care. The U.S. faces a shortage of behavioral health professionals, particularly in rural areas, with only 28% of the population residing in regions with sufficient mental health providers.
This shortage is exacerbated by “ghost networks,” where existing providers are at capacity and cannot accept new patients. Other logistical hurdles include cultural and language barriers and inadequate public transportation.
Technology Solutions to Improve Early-Stage Patient Experience
Meeting patient expectations at every touchpoint while delivering high-quality care is challenging. As such, it’s crucial to use technology that supports your staff members and clinicians to improve the patient experience and boost patient retention. Here’s how to make that happen even before the first interaction.
Community outreach and education: Behavioral health and human services (BHHS) organizations should raise awareness about mental health issues, including the importance of seeking help via websites, mobile apps, social media, and community mental health screening.
Interactive decision-making tools like quizzes and mental health risk factor calculators are effective as they allow individuals to assess their well-being confidentially. Making these available on your website allows potential patients to recognize the need for professional help. Based on their responses, you can guide users to appropriate resources.
Select patient engagement platforms that can deliver an educational content library across a social media-like platform to facilitate patient support groups, share personal stories, and provide resources that enable people to identify symptoms of mental health issues.
Access to financial resources: Online financial assessment and aid tools are web-based apps that can help patients understand their financial options, including sliding scale fees, insurance coverage, and eligibility for state-funded programs or grants. Virtual AI-driven chatbots can guide patients through the complex insurance coverage landscape, helping them understand what services are covered under their plans.
Look for solutions that allow patients 24/7 access to their personal information and patient support through a patient portal. Payment portals with self-service options encourage patients to keep their insurance and payment information current. Organizations can use this information to recommend financial aid initiatives, scholarships, grants, and private assistance as your patients' circumstances change.
Teletherapy and telepsychiatry platforms: By providing mental health services remotely, telehealth platforms can significantly reduce the barriers of distance and transportation—which is especially beneficial for patients in rural or underserved areas. Mobile apps that offer access to counseling or therapy sessions can provide a convenient and discreet way for patients, including those worried about stigma, to receive care.
Find HIPAA-compliant patient engagement solutions that enable synchronous and asynchronous communication for the most flexibility. Integrating care delivery with RCM or practice management software will ensure you promptly and accurately capture and submit charges.
Address cultural and language barriers: Offering services and resources in multiple languages can make mental health care more accessible to non-English speaking populations. Consider offering cultural sensitivity training programs to help healthcare providers and care teams better understand and address the cultural nuances that affect patient interactions. Choose technology with built-in accessibility options, including on-screen translation management and advanced communication features.
Overcoming logistical issues: If patients have difficulty traveling to appointments, check with county and state resources for programs and funds earmarked for transportation solutions. Make sure your scheduling policies have built-in flexibility for patients who depend on public transportation.
Consider technology that offers advanced scheduling systems to help patients find appointment dates and times that minimize travel challenges or fit into their schedules.
In Treatment: Personalized, Patient-Centered, and Integrated Care
In the treatment phase, personalized and patient-centered care becomes increasingly important. According to a McKinsey study from 2021, personalized care planning significantly increased patient satisfaction. These findings illustrate the importance of tailoring treatment to each patient's needs.
Patient-centered care helps patients feel better about their care and self-manage their conditions. Some studies have found that patient-centric care can lead to faster recovery than traditional care. Furthermore, patients who stick to personalized preventative care plans may require fewer interventions and procedures.
Another worthwhile goal is to address the challenge of integrated patient information. Many referring physicians are unaware of their patients' consultations with specialists. This lack of comprehensive data can hinder the development of truly integrated care plans.
Technology to Deliver a More Personalized Patient Experience
The need for a technology-driven, patient-centered approach is clear. By integrating advanced healthcare technologies, such as comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs) and patient engagement platforms, healthcare providers can gain a more complete view of their patients' health. This supports better diagnosis and treatment planning and ensures the care provided is as personalized and effective as possible, ultimately enhancing patient satisfaction and treatment outcomes.
Digital Therapeutics: Implement digital interventions — i.e., evidence-based interventions driven by technology to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. These tools can be customized to meet each patient's specific needs, creating truly personalized care.
Care Planning: Advanced care planning tools allow clinicians to easily create and adjust individualized care plans. These tools can integrate patient preferences, history, and progress, enabling a more dynamic and responsive approach to treatment.
Integrated Care: Comprehensive electronic health records (EHRs) facilitate evidence-based integrated care by providing clinicians with more patient information. This enables better care coordination across services, healthcare organizations, and providers.
Peer Support Communities: Encourage the formation of peer support groups facilitated through digital platforms. These groups can provide personalized support and community, which is crucial for mental and behavioral health patients.
Patient Experience After Treatment: Long-Term Well-Being
Post-treatment, the focus shifts to ensuring long-term well-being and preventing relapse. Studies indicate that continued engagement and support after treatment significantly enhance long-term recovery outcomes, especially for behavioral health treatment.
Alumni programs not only support sustained recovery and prevent relapse but also reinforce the overall mission of healthcare organizations. Key benefits include fostering community among those who might have felt isolated during treatment, promoting social cohesion, and offering a shared sense of purpose.
Additionally, alumni programs provide ongoing educational support, which helps prevent relapse and promotes long-term recovery. Engaged and satisfied patients within these programs will likely recommend their behavioral healthcare providers to others, enhancing the organization's reputation and patient base.
Moreover, late-stage patient engagement allows you to collect valuable feedback to build more effective programs, stronger therapeutic alliances, and accurate case conceptualizations. Ultimately, this all fosters a positive experience for patients, caregivers, and alumni.
Technologies for Post-Treatment Engagement
Don’t let after-care be an afterthought. Look for technology that helps you extend care to this often-overlooked portion of the patient lifecycle.
Feedback Surveys: Implement regular feedback surveys to gauge patient satisfaction and areas for improvement. This continuous feedback loop helps refine post-treatment services and tailor them to meet evolving patient needs.
Alumni Programs: Develop robust alumni programs that offer ongoing support, resources, and community engagement opportunities. These programs help maintain a connection with patients, providing them with a supportive network.
Integrated Care and Follow-Up: Continue leveraging integrated tools for consistent follow-up care. This can include routine check-ins, medication management, and coordination with primary care providers.
Improving Patient Experience Throughout the Lifecycle: How ContinuumCloud Can Help
Improving patient experience from the earliest stage requires a seamless experience that addresses challenges like access to care, awareness, and ease of use. By providing comprehensive care tools, self-service options, HIPAA-compliant communication, built-in accessibility features, and advanced scheduling systems, ContinuumCloud empowers patients, streamlines workflows, and ultimately improves patient outcomes.
1. Integrated Care Tools for Holistic Patient Assessment
ContinuumCloud's integrated care tools provide a comprehensive view of a patient's health, encompassing social, mental, and physical aspects. This holistic approach helps identify patients who might benefit from behavioral health services, even when they present primarily with physical ailments. By analyzing patient care data from multiple services, pharmacy, rehab, and inpatient records, healthcare providers can proactively address potential behavioral health issues, leading to earlier interventions and improved patient outcomes.
2. 24/7 Access to Patient Information and Self-Service Options
A patient portal empowers patients with 24/7 access to their personal health information, fostering a sense of ownership and engagement in their care. Using ContinuumCloud's mobile-first platform, patients can view their medical records, access test results, and communicate securely with their providers.
Our software includes a payment portal with self-check-in (also called a virtual waiting room). Screen prompts encourage patients to keep their insurance and payment information up-to-date while enabling accurate billing and reducing administrative burdens. To drive quality improvement and discover patient preferences, you can deliver patient satisfaction surveys to get useful feedback.
3. HIPAA-Compliant Patient Engagement for Communication
HIPAA privacy compliance can't be an afterthought. In conjunction with a unified EHR, the CaredFor app provides secure communication that’s flexible and convenient for patients. Secure messaging platforms enable real-time conversations between patients and providers. At the same time, virtual appointment options allow for remote consultations and digital interventions, reducing the need for in-person visits and improving accessibility.
4. Built-In Accessibility Options for Inclusive Healthcare Delivery
ContinuumCloud's digital health patient engagement solutions have built-in accessibility features to ensure that your healthcare system delivers patient-centered care, from appointment scheduling to patient education. It not only improves the patient experience by catering to diverse patient needs but also improves patient safety—an indicator of high-quality care.
5. Advanced Scheduling Systems for Patient-Centric Appointment Booking
When it comes to improving patient satisfaction, it helps to have an intuitive and easy-to-use appointment scheduling system. ContinuumCloud allows patients to search for available appointments based on their preferred providers, locations, and time slots. This promotes satisfaction and gives patients control over their healthcare journey.
6. Care Journeys: Personalized Care Plans Delivered Electronically
ContinuumCloud's Care Journeys represents a significant advancement in personalized healthcare, particularly for behavioral health and human services. Care Journeys allow you to tailor each patient's journey based on their unique needs, preferences, and medical history, ensuring their care is highly specific and relevant to their situation.
The care plans are delivered electronically, which offers several advantages. It makes the plans easily accessible to healthcare providers and patients. Electronic delivery also allows quick updates and adjustments to the care plan as the patient's needs evolve.
Given the nature of behavioral health, you must incorporate a multi-disciplinary approach involving various healthcare professionals like psychiatrists, therapists, social workers, and primary care physicians. Care Journeys ensures that all aspects of the patient's mental and physical health are addressed.
7. Patient Education Content Library
The patient education content library offered by ContinuumCloud is a critical component in empowering patients within the healthcare system. This library is designed to be an extensive, accessible, and reliable source of information for patients, covering multiple conditions and treatments, particularly in behavioral health and human services. Here’s a more detailed look at its features and benefits:
Comprehensive Information: The library contains a wealth of content on various mental health conditions, treatments, and general wellness topics. This can range from common disorders like anxiety and depression to more complex conditions, providing insights into symptoms, causes, treatment options, and management strategies.
Easy Accessibility: Accessibility is a key feature, with information available online through a patient portal or mobile app. This allows patients to access the information they need anytime and anywhere, especially for those with mobility issues or limited access to in-person resources.
Regular Updates: Given the constantly evolving nature of health care, the content in the library is updated regularly to reflect the latest research, treatment modalities, and best practices in mental health care.
Aligns With Programming and Individual Needs: Your content library will offer patients personalized content recommendations based on the patient's specific condition, treatment plan, or interests. This personalization enhances the relevance and effectiveness of the information provided.
8. Patient Feedback Survey Delivery
Using the CaredFor app, ContinuumCloud delivers targeted outreach through self-evaluation surveys, allowing patient feedback about care and treatment. These surveys are digital patient engagement tools designed for quick completion, encouraging high participation rates while minimizing patient effort. The feedback system is part of a broader strategy of continuous patient monitoring and follow-up.
ContinuumCloud's approach emphasizes micro-interactions — short, quick-response questionnaires that don’t require much time from patients. This method enhances the feedback collection process by making it more efficient and less intrusive — and it helps keep patients actively involved in their care plans. ContinuumCloud can gather valuable insights into patient experiences and satisfaction by regularly engaging patients through these surveys, which is essential for improving care quality and outcomes.
9. Create Successful Alumni Programs
An alumni program forms a community of former patients of a treatment facility, typically overseen by either an in-house alumni coordinator or a dedicated volunteer. This program embraces individuals who have completed any treatment level the center offers and serves as an affordable or complimentary continuum of care.
Maintaining connections within the recovery community is crucial while enabling treatment centers to continue engaging with patients post-treatment. Furthermore, robust alumni programs enhance the treatment facility's overall quality of services. The CaredFor app provides a platform to help you create a successful alumni program to engage clients after they leave treatment.
Improving Patient Experience: Engage Early and Often
There’s no question that providing a positive patient experience from beginning to end is more crucial than ever. When you address initial barriers to care, leverage technology to engage patients, provide personalized care plans, and offer post-treatment support, positive outcomes are much more likely.
ContinuumCloud's comprehensive approach to improving patient experience throughout the behavioral health lifecycle is a testament to the power of integrated, patient-centered care.
By empowering patients with tools like the CaredFor app, Care Journeys, a patient education content library, and targeted feedback systems, ContinuumCloud is paving the way for better health outcomes and long-term well-being. This commitment to excellence in every aspect of patient care exemplifies the future of behavioral health services where every interaction counts and every patient's story is valued.
Connect with us today to enhance your service delivery and ensure every patient receives the quality of care they deserve in their journey.