How Prisma Health unified digital health tech to boost patient engagement, slash no-shows

By November 21, 2023 December 16th, 2023 News

Navigating the healthcare system often requires using different websites, mobile apps and phone calls to find providers and make appointments. It can also mean quite literally navigating from your home to the hospital or doctor’s office and finding nearby parking.

As healthcare becomes more consumer-centric, major health systems are investing in powering up their digital technology to make the experience more seamless and integrated for patients.

Prisma Health, an 18-hospital system in South Carolina, collaborated with digital health companies Artera and Gozio Health to unify patient-facing technologies in a single app. The integration brings together Gozio Health’s wayfinding and location-aware mobile engagement platform with Artera’s patient communications solution. Patients can book appointments and then find helpful directions to the location, and the technology connects all patient communication in one channel.

The integration builds on Prisma Health’s broader patient engagement strategy to open up access to care and streamline messaging through the health system’s Prisma Health Go app, Rich Rogers, senior vice president and chief information officer at Prisma Health, said during an interview.

“Our priority is to simplify the patient and consumer experience accessing our services. The investments that we’re making are really aimed at allowing patients to use smartphones to perform routine tasks and engage and interact with our health system, whether it’s receiving patient results, scheduling an appointment or finding the appropriate provider for what they need. It’s about trying to create efficiency, but also making it easier for our patients and consumers to navigate our complex health system,” he said.

Prisma Health, the largest nonprofit healthcare provider in South Carolina, serves almost 1.5 million unique patients annually in its 21-county market area that covers 50% of the state.

Prisma Health integrated Artera and Gozio Health’s technologies about six months ago and has seen impressive results to date. The health system has seen a 10x increase in downloads of the Prisma Health Go app, from 40 to up to 400 downloads per day, helping Prisma reach substantially more patients, Rogers noted.

The health system now has more than 74,000 mobile app users, adding more at a rate of about 5,000 per month, and reports a 71% increase in the rate of patients who return to use the app more than once, according to the health system.

“It’s all about ‘stickiness,’ and we want our patients and consumers to continue to interact with us, especially as we start to move to a value-based care model where we’re transitioning from taking care of sick people and getting paid on an episodic basis to really trying to keep a population healthy,” Rogers said. “Part of that is maintaining that relationship and having the ability to communicate with those healthy patients. That’s a complete transition for our industry, but I think it’s one that we all believe is going to eventually control the escalation of healthcare costs in this country.”

Palmetto Health and Greenville Health System merged in 2017 and rebranded as Prisma Health. Rogers and his team looked to integrate and standardize multiple patient-facing apps and tools. The health system saw an opportunity to work with Artera, formerly Well Health, to improve patient engagement. Artera launched eight years ago with a patient communications platform that enables conversations between patients and healthcare organizations through secure, multilingual messaging in the patient’s preferred communications channel: texting, email, telephone and webchat.

“We found they have the best solution and had an integration with Epic, which was important to us because we wanted to duplicate technology that’s available through MyChart, and they have that deep integration, so we didn’t have to build that ourselves,” Rogers said.

Prisma also taps Artera’s referral communication, conversational messaging, call-to-text feature allowing patients to transition from being on hold to texting directly with a staff member. On average, 33% of patients wait less than one minute to get a response to their inquiry via call-to-text conversation, according to the health system.

The health system also has been working with Gozio Health for about six years.

As a result of the Artea and Gozio Health integration, when a patient confirms their appointment from a text reminder, they can click a smartlink to download the Prisma Health GO app, built by Gozio. Once the app is downloaded, patients can launch Gozio’s patented wayfinding for navigation from their home to parking to the point of care. This reduces patients calling Prisma staff to ask for directions and helps patients arrive on time for appointments, according to the health system.

Through the app, patients can also save the appointment to their mobile phone calendar with an embedded link. When clicked, the link opens the app and automatically provides wayfinding from home to parking to the point of care.

The app also features a map to help patients find care, including urgent care and the emergency department closest to the user’s location, along with urgent care wait times and the ability to book appointments.

“We’ve heard firsthand from our patients that this has improved their experience by helping them navigate to the right location on time, and our staff are overjoyed with the reduction in call volume they’ve seen,” said Robin Gadd-Lane, manager for digital health and transformation systems at Prisma Health.

Making it easier for patients to make or cancel appointments, get reminders and easily find hospitals and doctors’ offices has resulted in operational and financial benefits for the health system as well. Prisma Health reports a 33% reduction in the no-show rate in one year, from 6% to 4%, and estimates $8 million in cost savings as a result of slashing the no-show rates.

“It’s just reminding patients that they’ve got an upcoming appointment and making it easy to be able to cancel and reschedule it. They can also log in and, if they want an earlier appointment, they’ll be notified if a spot becomes open, so that frees up some spots for us as well,” Rogers said.

Also, more than 2,300 inbound phone calls moved to asynchronous text conversations, and the health system eliminated more than 1,000 backlogged specialty referrals in less than two weeks.

Prisma Health plans to continue building out its digital patient experience.

“We want patients to be able to do almost anything with technology, such as finding a provider in a certain area that speaks a certain language. We want all that information to be available to our patients to be able to make those decisions on their own. Scheduling appointments, providing information in advance so all the information is in your EMR and then paying your copay bills, all that can be handled through technology,” Rogers said.

He added, “Even just simple things like confirming that you’re on your way to an appointment, it just improves the throughput in our practices and outpatient areas so that we can see more patients. That’s one of the big challenges we have in our industry, access, and this is one of the things we can do to help.”