A 12-week telehealth patient navigator pilot program increased patient visit attendance and generated $11,387 in return on investment.
Patient navigators are a cost-effective way to increase video telehealth visit appointment attendance, according to a new research article.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, telehealth visits have increased dramatically. One concern is patients having technological challenges that make it difficult to keep their video telehealth visits.
The new research article, which was published by JAMA Network Open, features data collected from 4,000 video telehealth patients. A patient navigator attempted to reach 1,000 of the patients by phone before their video telehealth visit—the intervention group—and 3,000 of the patients had usual communication including reminders by phone and text—the comparator group.
The 12-week study period was from April to July 2021. The patients were served by a primary care clinic and a gerontology clinic affiliated with an academic medical center. A patient navigator was hired for the pilot program.
The patient navigator contacted patients by phone the day before their video telehealth visit, offering technical assistance and answering questions about accessing the visit. A script was given to the navigator that included the steps for patients to connect to their visits and frequently asked questions.
The study generated three key data points:
- 91.6% of patients in the intervention group attended their appointment compared to 82.8% of patients in the comparator group
- 5.8% of patients in the intervention group canceled their appointment compared to 9.2% of patients in the comparator group
- The pilot program's return on investment was $11,387
The study's data indicate the telehealth patient navigators can be effective, the research article's co-authors wrote. "The findings of this study suggest that adding a patient navigator to episodic telehealth visits may increase visit attendance and provide a net financial return."
Telehealth patient navigators can improve video telehealth visit attendance with a return on investment, the study's co-authors wrote. "At our institution, the Telehealth Patient Navigator program proved to be an effective, cost-effective, and high-value intervention associated with improving telehealth visit attendance and fewer patient no-shows and cancellations and increased successful video visits over the course of a 12-week pilot. Implementing a Telehealth Patient Navigator may be a high-value proposition for healthcare systems, as it uniquely benefits patients and clinicians while being cost-effective and yielding a positive net return on investment."
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
91.6% of video telehealth patients contacted by a patient navigator attended their appointment compared to 82.8% of patients who were not contacted by a patient navigator
5.8% of patients contacted by a patient navigator canceled their appointment compared to 9.2% of patients who were not contacted by a patient navigator