Let’s start with loyalty. More specifically, what makes people stay with a brand whatever the industry? It’s not the product, service, or price. Today, customers buy an entire experience; relationships with brands include various stages, moments, and touchpoints. Patient experience is not just quality of treatment. Patient satisfaction results from nurturing a culture that goes far beyond clinical care; a digital component can deepen this culture and create valuable patient experiences. In this context, valuable means engaging, seamless, and personalized.
Patient-centered and value-based medical care is built on a long chain of consistent and well-orchestrated processes. Patient-provider relationships depend on the healthcare businesses understanding customer priorities, preferences, and expectations, then meeting them. And of course, this relies on the company’s ability to leverage data.
But before diving any deeper into the data-driven approach to healthcare, we need to distinguish between patient experience and patient engagement.
Patient experience is the overall perception of the received care or treatment. We define patient engagement as mobilization of the healthcare experience. Simply put, patient engagement includes actions and resources which allow patients to play an active role in their treatment; tools, software, and technology can be used to encourage patients, medical staff, and entire families to monitor and promote wellness.
Patient engagement stands on three pillars:
Your healthcare facility can have a robust medical staff with years of experience, the best possible practices gathered from across the globe, and a developed care plan for each particular patient. But this means nothing if the patient is not engaged in the process, or does not understand what to do.
A healthcare organization must consider strategies to boost patient participation.
“The question for healthcare leaders today is how do we make patient care a fundamentally better experience across the continuum? That includes safety, quality, and service. It also includes making healthcare more connected so that we promote wellness care as well as disease care. We also need to integrate distance health so people can stay at home and at work. And, finally, how do we significantly reform our archaic payment system. Addressing those challenges will truly be transformative, and transformation is one strategic objective we should all be thinking about.”
— James Merlino, M.D, Press Ganey Associates
Ways to Improve Patient Experience
It might seem that the importance of the customer experience is obvious and unquestioned. However, according to a Forrester survey, around 70% of businesses consider customer experience paramount. The Beryl Institute reports that only 43% of doctors consider patient experience their top priority. Data from the Harvard Business Review reveals that in the US alone, active patient decisions impact 60% of healthcare spending.
Now, let’s get to the anatomy of patient experience. Patient experience consists of the following elements:
- scheduling appointments
- appointment follow-ups
- meeting with the doctor
- waiting time
- interaction via social media
- interactions with staff
“The assumption is that everything you integrate in healthcare is going to be expensive. It’s not. Time, money, and resources are always a challenge. When engaging our patients digitally, the number one barrier is none of those three. It’s actually culture.”
— Dr. Christopher Longhurst, CIO of UC San Diego Health
There is a number of ways a healthcare facility can improve patient experience and cut through the noise of the market:
Estimate the current quality of interactions.
This is a starting point where you evaluate the synergy of patients, doctors, and practices—the three pillars we mentioned above. Measurement of customer satisfaction starts before the actual treatment and continues after treatment.
Map the patient experience
Define patient personas, consider every activity and each step. Learn patient motives, pain points, expectations, and what keeps them from completing their treatment and recovery protocols. You’ll see exactly what requires improvement.
Seamless communication everywhere
When it comes to communication, the slightest mistake can ruin the entire experience. Technologies such as AI-based chatbots and automation reduce the possibility of human error. Automation provides timely responses, and updates via numerous channels.
Nurture patient-centric culture
A human-to-human approach here is vital. While routine tasks can be delegated to automation, medical staff give the human touch and undivided attention patients need.
“Even if a hospital indicates that 50% of its patients access the portal, one-time or limited use should not be viewed as patient engagement. Instead, to realize true engagement, organizations should be thinking about ways to foster two-way conversations to keep new and existing patients focused on their health and how the hospital, health system, or physician practice can meet their needs. This improves patients’ experience and builds loyalty, while also reducing leakage and growing revenue.”
— Bill Krause, VP and GM, Digital Experience and Consumer Engagement at Change Healthcare
Patient Experience Ideas
There are actionable ideas on how a medical facility can improve patient experience. Let’s go through the most effective ones:
- Build a robust online presence. Your website and social media accounts are the frontline, where the patient gets to know you before meeting in person. A website is the reflection of a company’s practices and should be treated as such. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly.
- Online appointments. Tech-savvy customers must have the opportunity to arrange things in a few clicks without the need to make phone calls or visit in person.
- Alerts, reminders, and follow-ups. These days, everyone is in a rush, and appointments can slip our minds. Help your patients by providing notifications. Let your customers know you value their time.
- Consider implementing a digital patient engagement platform. The unified solutions provide integrity and a 360-degree view of each patient.
“We need to focus on the quality of our interactions with patients. Do patients feel truly cared about, listened to, and respected? Are we taking enough time to answer their questions? The most positive patient experiences arise from workplace cultures that understand the value of the patient relationship, and build teamwork, communication, and processes that strengthen our engagement.”
— William Maples, Chief Medical Officer of Professional Research Consultants and the Executive Director of the Institute for Healthcare Excellence
Why Improve Patient Experience: Healthcare Benefits
- Better patient outcomes. Enhanced engagement leads to better results as compared to less activated patients.
- Better perceptions. Businesses that make the patient feel valued, and address patient issues in a timely and personal manner over the patient’s preferred channels, receive higher scores on the Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems.
- Better bottom line. When you deploy digital solutions in your healthcare business, you become a “doctor in a pocket.” This allows you to retain your patients and acquire new ones, while rationally allocating your resources and reducing the time and expense of rote, manual work. Customers tend to stick with innovative businesses that never stop evolving.
Patient Engagement Solutions
Among the top patient engagement solutions, we’d like to mention the following software:
- Xia Health. Used to support value-based healthcare providers and provide a secure connection between companies and patients. Integrates applications, intuitive dashboards, monitoring and tracking devices, and much more.
- WELL. Widely recognized as one of the best healthcare communication platforms. It encompasses the entire patient journey, and decreases wait times and no-show rates.
- NextTech Patient Portal. A HIPAA-compliant platform which provides secure messaging as well as an automated reminder system.
“Over our years of experience in healthcare, we realized the importance of customized digital solutions. Just as each patient has their own case and history, each medical company has its own needs and gaps to bridge. Each technology being used, whether it is AI, ML algorithms, chatbots, cloud computing, or something else, has its own purpose and can be the foundation for a smart application that satisfies those needs and fills those gaps.”
— Vlad Medvedovsky at Proxet, custom software development solutions company
Medical care is moving forward at a fast pace. There is huge potential for family engagement in healthcare and solutions that simplify those interactions. If you want to know more, please feel free to contact the Proxet team and get all your questions answered.