Healthcare providers should review all patient communication to ensure accessibility
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), US healthcare providers must ensure that all their facilities and services are accessible to Persons with Disabilities (PWD). And it’s true that the healthcare sector has put plenty of planning and resources into ensuring their physical premises cater for patients that may have a motor, cognitive, auditory or visual impairment.
However, the ADA also places obligation on healthcare organizations that communicate with patients in any way to ensure accessibility in healthcare communications. This extends to printed documents, online documents, communications via email or text, as well as anywhere a patient may interact, such as websites, portal and mobile apps.
Why accessibility in healthcare communications is also critically important
On the one hand, healthcare providers have a regulatory obligation to ensure that all patient interactions are accessible. There are consequences for failing to meet accessibility standards, such as complaints to industry regulators or an ombudsman.
If a regulatory body finds that any organization has failed in the provision of accessible services or properties, it can impose sanctions. There are many lawsuits relating to online accessibility and this grows year on year.
According to official statistics, 26 percent (one in 4) adults in the United States have some type of disability. That means one in 4 patients may be experiencing unnecessary barriers to accessing vital healthcare information.
And elderly people (65+ years) make up almost three quarters of the total number of Americans with disabilities.
The reality is, in addition to avoiding lawsuits and financial ramifications, providing accessible services and communications is both a commercial necessity and a business advantage.
Accessibility in customer communication management (CCM)
Recently, media attention has placed a spotlight on website compliance with accessibility regulations. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1) were established to provide companies, including healthcare providers, with guidelines on how to ensure websites and portals are compliant.
However, it is not just a public website that must be accessible. When it comes to accessibility in CCM, healthcare providers must ensure that any communication, regardless of whether it is physically delivered or emailed to customers, can be consumed by someone with an impairment.
What is accessibility in Customer Communications Management?
Accessibility in Customer Communications Management refers to how easily a recipient with a physical impairment or learning disability can access or consume information. Regardless of whether it is contained on an organization’s portal or web page; in an email or text; or in a document that is presented online.
There is a chance that healthcare providers have not paid enough attention to ensuring that all customer communication and digital properties across all customer journeys are accessible. This means that contrary to internal perceptions, the healthcare provider may not yet have achieved accessibility compliance.
The following customer touchpoints must also be reviewed:
- Portal accessibility – patient portals that enable access to services, confidential information and regulated documents must adhere to the same accessibility standards as public websites.
- Mobile app accessibility – information and services provided through a mobile application, such as authorizations and consents, must be accessible.
- Email accessibility – transactional emails and campaigns must be designed and developed to be consumed through assistive technologies, such as screen readers and magnifiers. In addition, any custom landing pages that are linked from emails must also be checked for accessibility.
- Form accessibility – forms that a patient is required to complete and submit online, for example, admission forms, must be accessible through a screen reader or other assistive technology.
- Document accessibility – documents, such as patient statements and summary of benefits, that are emailed or made available online to view or download must be generated through a compliant document generation platform.
Doxim’s Accessible Document solution addresses this need.
For more information, download our Document Accessibility eBook for Healthcare
Need help auditing your communications for accessibility?
To address the need for accessible communications, healthcare providers should look for a partner that understands accessibility requirements and can assist with relevant advice and expertise, as well as provide a CCM platform that can produce accessible communications on time and at scale for millions of recipients.
Doxim offers an all-in-one partnership to help healthcare providers review all patient communication to ensure compliance.
Regional Vice President, Utilities and Healthcare at Doxim.
Jason has 22+ years of experience serving a diverse array of industries, across a wide range of print and digital communication technologies. Prior to joining Doxim in July 2020, he was a Senior Client Services Manager at Taylor Communications.
In his current position as Regional Vice President, Utilities, Jason is focused on developing long-term client relationships to facilitate account growth and expedient conflict resolution, He retains a key interest in communication management in other regulated industries, such as the Healthcare sector.