The Value of Patient Experience, Why it is important for your practice

The Value of Patient Experience

Patient experience begins when you have the very first contact with the patients. It is the sum total of every touchpoint, every episode of care. It is everything from the first phone call or first visit to the website to the continued relationship patient has with your practice.

Across the globe, there are many patients who still continue to have negative healthcare experiences. As per the recent research by Accenture on 10,000 patients in 5 countries US, UK, France, Germany and Brazil, patients are still looking for quality services throughout the patient experience.

Below are the key findings from the research:

  • 65% of all patients surveyed said that pretreatment is the most frustrating period for them.
  • Less than one in five patients are aware of services available to them
  • 58 % of patients use services when they are aware of them
  • 79% of the respondents said that the services they used were “very” or “extremely” valuable
  • 85% of patients wanted their healthcare professionals to be the point of contact for providing services to manage their condition

While interacting with many doctors I have come to know why many of them steer away from focussing on patient experience. It is because they believe that “We are not in the business of doing the NICE THING, we are in the business of doing RIGHT THING”. Also few think that delivering on medical outcome has nothing to do with high-quality patient care.

It is very important to know that there are only three things that matter most to the patients: Communication, Service, Access. They are more looking forward towards quality care rather than just the treatment. Patient experience not only improves customer satisfaction but also positively impacts medical outcomes and safety.

Hence having quality interaction with your patient and establishing trust with patients and their families is critical for improving the patient experience.

How can you improve Patient Experience

Read the related article– How Technology Enhances the Patient Experience in Hospitals

Below are the ways that can help you achieve best patient experience:

  1. The patient experience starts from patient arrival, therefore, you can make sure that your practice has a car parking space allocated for your patients
  2. Next, you must ensure that your patient encounters a pleasant experience at your reception. Make sure your nurse/receptionist deliver a great personal experience by happily greeting patient and family members and happily answering questions on appointment time, understanding bills, providing access to wheelchair etc.
  3. Maintain superior cleanliness, comfortable temperature, and a well-maintained premise, to set the tone for the level of care that patient can expect.
  4. Ensure that all clinical engineering services and equipment are always working properly while meeting the regulatory requirement
  5. You must also ensure that the patient and their family members are well informed about his/her treatment.
  6. Ensure post-discharge follow-up and assistance on follow-up appointments.
  7. Ensure there is an availability of appointment reminders via phone, text, etc.

How Technology can enhance patient experience more

You can start to engage patients with interactive technology that offers information, guidance and a better experience.

Telehealth

Telehealth means conducting online video for patients. It will help provide a virtual visit to your patients and communicate with the doctor via smartphone, tablet or computer. Telehealth avoids delayed care due to busy schedule or the lack of means of transport to visit a doctor.

Remote Monitoring and Wearable Device

There are a number of portable devices and mobile apps available that provides patients with remote monitoring capabilities to track their health status and progress. Remote Monitoring capabilities include tracking of physiological data such as blood pressure, weight and blood glucose and providing real-time data on patients at high risk for falls or asthma attacks.

By adopting remote patient monitoring devices, you can focus on preventive health management for low-risk patients and chronic disease management for high-risk patients, with the ability to execute timely interventions and make needed adjustments to care.

Such devices enable early detection of illness, reducing a number of emergency department visits, hospitalizations and duration of hospital stay.

Remote patient monitoring technology includes daily monitoring devices such as glucose meter for patients with diabetes and heart or blood pressure monitors for patients receiving cardiac care. Data is sent to a physician’s office by using a special telehealth computer system, by using a special software application installed on the patient’s internet capable computer smartphone, or tablet

Use of Biochips that targets a specific set of biological reactions such as decoding genes, measuring glucose level for diabetic patients is also one of the widely used emergency response devices.

Registration Kiosks

You can install a Registration Kiosk that automates the initial check-in process with self-service. It helps improve efficiency and reduce wait time for patients.

Registration kiosks can be used to improve the patient experience by automating self-service tasks such as patient registration, verifying insurance eligibility, coverage information, and completing any pre-service forms.

For most patients, registration kiosks expedite the check-in process and ease the workload of registration staff, who can then be freed to handle other tasks.

Patient Portals

Patient portals are secure online websites, that gives patients convenient 24 hours access to personal health information from anywhere with an internet connection.

You can provide a patient portal to your patients who can login with a secure username and password and have the following features:

  • Appointment Scheduling,
  • Bill pay,
  • Access to lab results,
  • After-visit summary,
  • A provider patient communication channel,
  • A feedback collection mechanism,
  • Patient health information/education and
  • Annual reminders of screening/check-ups.

Patient portals enable patients to become more involved in managing their health, also provides an open line communication between the patient and you.

Social Media and Web-based content

People turn to the Internet for information, to communicate with others and consume content. Not surprisingly, patients are regularly using the internet to research health information. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Survey of US Healthcare Consumers, nearly 40 percent of those surveyed looked online for information related to their health and treatment.

Does your organization have an online presence? Is your Web content optimized for online and mobile device searches? Optimizing digital content for search can lead patients to your website to find pertinent information and ideally schedule an appointment with your organization.

Automate patient appointment reminders.

Is your staff spending each day calling patients with appointment reminders? This is one of the most time consuming and inefficient front office tasks with many calls ending up in voicemail. Hence, you can start by automating appointment reminders that will benefit your practice in two ways: It’s one of the quickest ways to efficiently perform a routine task and reduce no-shows.

Instead of calling each patient on your daily reminders list, one at a time, automated appointment reminders are sent to all via text message or email — both more convenient and immediate than voicemail. After receiving your reminder, patients can confirm their appointment, which your staff can see in a simple, real-time display.

IVRS ( Interactive voice response system) is also a great option to automate appointment reminders. When the patient call in the IVR system has an auto attendant feature that will provide you with the required information on your appointment date and time. There is also an automatic call feature that will call you when your appointment date is approaching.

All types of queries pertaining to the hospital and services are presented to the caller in the menu format and after the choice of information is made, the caller is auto-directed to the information without any employee engagement.

Engage patients with Home Exercise Program

Provide patients access to Home Exercise programs online through their smartphone, electronic tablet or computer. It allows patients to easily play the video of each exercise, see the number of sets and repetitions, as well as written instructions in any language such as: Spanish, English, and French.

You can even print HEP (Home Exercise Program) by choosing different print formats such as in black, white or color or in line drawings.

You also have an option to host your patient’s video home exercise programs on your clinic’s website. Patients will view their HEP through your own website

Email Patient satisfaction surveys

You must also consider using patient satisfaction surveys as a quality improvement tool for your practice. It is important to know the patient’s perception of the quality of care he has received and what are the improvement areas needed. Email approach is one of the best ways to collect responses to the patient satisfaction survey. All you need to do is collect the email address of patients who are willing to participate in the survey and within 24 hours they will receive a feedback survey form about their recent interaction with the doctor.

What is the value you get

Improving the patient experience can help a hospital improve its financial performance by strengthening customer loyalty, building reputation and brand, boosting utilization of hospital services through increased referrals to family and friends, and helps reduce no-shows.

Furthermore, better patient experience correlates with lower medical malpractice risk for physicians and lower staff turnover ratios

Improved patient experience can lead to getting better online reviews which in turn will help get more patients to your practice

Hospitals with higher ‘patient reported experience’ ratings have a better process of care quality which directly increases profitability.

Patients who have a better care experience are more likely to follow instructions given by doctors.

Benefits

  • Improved results and healthier patients

With quality care and better patient experience, it will lead to better and improved health outcomes. Patients become more open and nonhesitant in their visits and communicating to physicians. There is a level of trust developed, due to which they are more likely to relax and cooperate during their procedures, take their medicines, follow care plans,  all of which leads to healthier patients.

  • Patient loyalty, and growth

By consistently providing satisfying patient experience, medical practices, or outpatient care can win patient loyalty and hence can result in high demand as a provider. With positive patient feedback, you can get new patients and is a key towards a growth of your practice.

  • Gain respect, reputation and satisfaction

With quality patient care, it will help you gain an admirable reputation that will result in widespread respect in your community.

  • Lower costs of doing business

By providing the exceptional patient experience, medical practices and ambulatory care centers also reduce the costs of doing business. Patients more satisfied with their experience are also less likely to file malpractice lawsuits that drain provider time and energy. Also, the work climate is more satisfying to staff which in turn reduces costly staff turnover.