One recent morning a patient in his early 20s arrived on time for an exam at the Park Nicollet Clinic in Champlin, Minn., a northwest suburb of Minneapolis. He thanked the nurse for the text message that had reminded him of his appointment time and location. « I would have never made it without it, » he said. « It’s just so much easier reading a text than listening to a voicemail. »
The clinic, which opened in January 2013, is brimming with high-tech, patient-friendly touches. It provides urgent care, diagnostic imaging and labs. A comfortably furnished waiting area includes features such as touch screens with educational content on a variety of health topics. In each of the 14 exam rooms, physicians can swivel the desk around to share the medical record side by side with the patient.
Following his time with his physician, the young man met with the staff care coordinator, who answered questions on follow-up treatment and encouraged him to sign up for the online patient portal MyChart. On his way out, he scheduled a follow-up visit, and asked, « Will I be getting another text reminder? » He was assured he would. In fact, just a few hours later, he received a text asking him to rate his overall experience during his visit.
This is healthcare post-reform. With patient volumes falling nationally and patients on the hook for ever more of the cost of care, growth is not just about expanding your geographic footprint or building new facilities; it’s also about finding new ways to bring healthcare to patients, whenever and wherever it’s needed. Technology such as text messaging, touchscreens and portals isn’t the only solution, but it is an incredibly effective tool for enriching the connection with patients.