Earlier in the healthcare industry, the doctor was the main custodian of the patient experience. Over the past decade, it has seen many changes. The power is shifting to the service ecosystem, and technology is playing a key role. However, the approach to medical treatment and service differs in each country. Whether publicly governed or privately owned, healthcare institutions have just begun to address patient experience.
The Beryl Institute in Texas defines patient experience as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence perceptions across the continuum of care”. According to a study conducted by HealthLeader Media, 84% of healthcare leaders rank patient experience among their top three priorities, but more than half have not made those specific investments.
Unlike customer experience, patient experience hasn’t been an investment option. Similar to a buyer-seller relationship, what makes it any different from your recent retail customer experience? To ensure you stay on track, here are a few tips to help guide you through to delivering superior patient experiences.
Understand every patient’s experience
As patient experience comprises any contact from primary to critical care, it is crucial for hospitals to recognize their immediate needs before proceeding further with any treatment. Patients always remember how they were treated compared to what is said or done. This personalized touch lets them know they are in safe hands and create lasting memories that stay with them.
Seek the voice of the customer
Working towards great patient experience is only half the battle. The other half includes collecting feedback and proactively using it improvement and development. The response garnered through face-to-face meetings or digital channels, be it text messages or email, is imperative to understand the patient’s perspective. It can help you recognize what you are doing right and what you are not. For example, some healthcare giants use toll-free calls and free-text features to receive both specific and generic feedback as a platform to build trust and loyalty with patients.
Automate appointment reminders
Given our busy lifestyles, there are chances of us forgetting to attend meetings, maybe even doctor’s appointments. To avoid this, healthcare providers have now begun to automate phone calls, text messages, and email reminders. These convenient methods help patients follow upcoming visits to the specialists.
Send documents through a secure online portal
As technology plays a big role, some healthcare organizations have already embraced the use of online portals to store patient information and data. They use it for storing test results, doctors’ notes, or other patient file contents in a user-friendly but secure way.
This gives patients the ability to get copies of their medical records - without any help. According to research by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), facilitating ongoing communication between patients and physicians either via an app or online portal can improve engagement rates by 60% or higher.
Humanize patient engagement
Like any brand-customer interaction, patients want to be involved in their healthcare needs. It is important to maintain continuous engagement. Train your staff to give them a pleasant experience, irrespective of their role. Simple tricks like talking to them and checking on their progress can make a huge difference.
Providers can also create email lists to circulate social media posts or monthly newsletters (including news and information relevant to their care). This encourages them to come back for therapy services but also keep them informed of their progress post discharge.
Set a standard for healthcare outside the industry
For healthcare institutions to remain relevant, it is no longer required of them to compare themselves in their circles of health and wellness alone. In the age of patient experience, every interaction is treated as a unique and important puzzle piece, in an otherwise data-centric and digital world.
Healthcare customers are brand ambassadors when they enter the hospital. If the service is set low, (be it like a financial institution that suddenly has too much to offer) then expectations and results, will reflect in a similar manner. This obstacle course is something that only pursuing and developing patient experience can fix.
Patient experience, now, has become an important factor and a matter of choice among hospitals to decide their course of action. While steps to improve engagement can inherently help boost the value patients feel, it is necessary to stay competitive. Therefore, plan the patient journey, leverage technology, and encourage patients to access professional care when they need it.
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