Accessibility is a crucial component of healthcare. However, many individuals face numerous barriers that prevent them from getting the healthcare services they need. Learn proven strategies for how to improve access to healthcare. Enhance healthcare accessibility with effective methods.
These barriers can include financial constraints, limited access to transportation, and physical and attitudinal obstacles. Healthcare facilities can address these issues by implementing patient-centric strategies focusing on accessibility.
Effective Strategies to Improve Access to Healthcare
Invest in Technology and Telemedicine
Telemedicine has the potential to significantly improve healthcare accessibility, as affirmed by Rock Bordelon, President Allegiance Health Management. This technological advancement eliminates geographical barriers and enables patients to consult with specialists without traveling long distances. Furthermore, doctors can now treat multiple patients simultaneously, which reduces wait times and the overall cost of care.
Telemedicine is also effective during pandemics, enabling quick triage of patients to avoid disease transmission in busy waiting rooms. It also provides remote treatment for chronic conditions that require continued therapy, such as psychiatric care.
Invest in Streamlined Communication
To maximize healthcare accessibility, providers must ensure that all patients can access the same data easily. This includes ensuring visiting nurses can see physicians’ notes and vice versa. It also means patients can access a centralized way to schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and communicate with their clinicians.
Streamlining communication can include providing secure online messaging platforms and automated appointment reminders. It can also involve offering same-day appointments, which are especially beneficial for patients with urgent needs.
Another strategy for enhancing healthcare accessibility is providing patient education resources. This can include video-based tutorials, webinars, and written material for patients to take home. These educational resources can help reduce no-show rates and ensure patients understand their test results and treatment plans. They can also be used to improve digital literacy in disproportionately affected communities, leading to higher telehealth and patient portal usage. For example, healthcare systems may need to expand subsidized wireless internet access or invest in providing language-specific resources.
Provide Patient Education Resources
Patient education is critical to helping patients make healthier decisions. It reduces anxiety and increases adherence to treatments and follow-up appointments. However, a few barriers to effective patient education can make it difficult for clinicians to get their messages across.
For example, many adults have low health literacy and may have difficulty reading and understanding medical information. They may also have cultural or religious beliefs that influence their ability to accept or engage with healthcare advice.
Providing patient education materials in multiple formats, including visuals like infographics, can help address these issues. Visuals are attention-grabbing and engage patients, and using plain language can eliminate the confusion associated with medical jargon. Additionally, incorporating a story can tap into a patient’s emotions and motivate them to learn. It can also be helpful to identify the needs of specific patient groups, such as those living in rural areas who may feel isolated or stigmatized for seeking care for mental or physical health.
Invest in Staff Training
Educated healthcare workers are crucial to providing quality patient care. Unfortunately, finding time and money for staff training can be difficult. Vendor-sponsored workshops on customer service, work-life balance, and dealing with generational differences can provide valuable insights for medical staff.
Additionally, offering telehealth appointments with closed captioning and access to telecommunication relay services can help to make online meetings accessible for patients with disabilities. Allowing patients to note accessibility and technology needs on an intake form before a virtual appointment can also ensure that the healthcare team is aware of any communication barriers.
Increasing accessibility in healthcare is an ongoing endeavor, and the strategies discussed above are only some of the many ways to achieve this. By broadening the definition of disability and supporting employees to understand that disabled people can work to a high standard, organizations can foster a more inclusive culture. They will benefit from a more engaged workforce and a healthier bottom line.