Increasing Healthcare Quality with Accessible Documents
Is your healthcare organization accessible to the estimated 26% of the population living with some kind of disability? Chances are good that your physical premises have a host of accommodations in place for these individuals.
If you haven’t taken a thorough look at the accessibility of your website, apps, and documents, then you aren’t really providing an inclusive and equitable experience for all your patients, including Persons with Disabilities (PWD). This can be such a barrier, in fact, that surveyed PWD patients highlight “improving communication” as a key area for increasing their health care access and quality.
The Legal Mandate
Digital accessibility isn’t just a “nice to have.”
If you’ve been watching the news about the recent accessibility case brought against Domino’s Pizza, then you may already be aware that early in October, the Supreme Court left intact a lower court finding that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does indeed apply to digital spaces as well as physical space.
Since 2016, Domino’s has been embroiled in a lawsuit with a blind customer over a non-accessible website and has argued that the ADA, first established in 1990, should not apply to digital properties like websites. The Supreme Court, clearly, does not agree with this position.
What does this mean for your healthcare organization? In a nutshell, just as you are required to maintain accessibility in your offices, clinics, and other physical locations, you also need to ensure that your digital properties, customer communications and medical documents are accessible.
Otherwise, you could be subject to demand letters, lawsuits, and negative press that threatens both your brand reputation and your bottom line.
The Patient Experience Upside
Although the impetus to increase your healthcare organization’s compliance with the ADA may initially be to avoid legal action, there’s a real and tangible patient experience upside to embarking on a digital accessibility project.
For example, 24 million Americans report that they experience vision loss, and that number is expected to grow as the baby boomer generation ages and experience age-related vision degradation.
This population will benefit from websites and documents that can be accessed through screen-reader technology. Patients living with vision loss have the same expectations as the rest of your patient base – they want 24/7, barrier-free access to their health information.
Provide this, and you’ll retain these patients, and attract other patients who are looking for an inclusive healthcare provider. You’ll also enhance your brand reputation as an organization that cares about the quality of life of its patients, and wants to empower them to achieve the best outcomes possible.
Document Accessibility for Connected Healthcare
Making documents accessible is a critical part of any broader accessibility strategy. That’s because some of the most critical interactions between a patient and their healthcare service provider occur through their bills, procedure-related documents, and other routine communications.
By implementing accessible documents, you ensure that health-related documentation can be read and reviewed by every patient, including those who use assistive technology like screen readers to access digital information.
On the page, these documents look exactly like the documents you already provide to patients. But behind the scenes, additional attributes are added to the document, so an individual using assistive technology like a screen reader is provided with the data in a comprehensible fashion.
The enhanced statements are then made available through an accessible portal, so patients with disabilities can access them easily, removing the barrier to information that PWD focus groups have highlighted as a major concern.