A Complete Guide to Patient Experience Management
- What Is Patient Experience?
- Patient Experience vs Patient Satisfaction
- Why does patient experience matter?
- Measuring patient experience
- Mastering patient experience
- Practice Management Tools for a Good Patient Experience
- Healthcare Compliances
What Is Patient Experience?
Patient experience can be defined as a series of interactions between the patient and the healthcare facilities. It is an integral part of healthcare quality that includes other aspects of healthcare delivery that patients enjoy and value when they seek care, such as easy access to health information, getting timely appointments and good communication with the care provider.
To provide patient-centred care, healthcare facilities have to understand the patient experience. By assessing the various aspects of patient experience one can evaluate the extent of care that the patient is receiving which is responsive to and respectful of the patient preferences, needs and values. Judging by the patient experience along with other elements such as safety and the effectiveness of care, one can paint a whole picture of the quality of healthcare.
Patient Experience vs Patient Satisfaction
The terms patient experience and patient satisfaction are often thought to be the same thing, but they are not. To estimate patient experience caregivers need to ask the patients whether something that ought to have happened in a healthcare setting happened or not or how often it happened. Eg. clear communication with the healthcare provider.
However, when it comes to satisfaction, the evaluating factor becomes patients’ expectations, whether they were met or not. If two different patients receive the same care but both have different expectations for how care was given to them and end up giving different satisfaction ratings due to the difference in the level of expectations.
Why does patient experience matter?
Researches have shown that a positive patient experience is a top priority for healthcare systems that understand the value of patient satisfaction.
Understanding a patient
Patients today see themselves as buyers of healthcare services. This concept is now recognized globally and agreed upon that every patient has certain rights, which emphasise the delivery of quality health care.
This is why healthcare organizations in the corporate sector have started to function more like a service industry. The hospital sectors have started to employ HR professionals, management graduates and are even using many custom healthcare software developments to elevate the patient experience. Even third party players have recognized the importance of patient satisfaction for the success of their organization. Many hospitals in the USA have their physicians bonuses linked to the patient feedback/evaluation, which consists of the personal interaction of their doctors with their patients. Players have now understood that higher patient satisfaction leads to benefits for their business in the following ways.
Improve brand loyalty
Patients are continuously on the lookout for healthcare services that provide a personalized and satisfying patient experience. Today leading hospitals are growing profitable. They are not doing this by cutting costs but by improving the level of patient experience and patient satisfaction delivered at their hospitals. Research shows that hospitals in the US, who are capable of delivering superior patient experience attain net margins that are around 50% higher than an average patient experience provider.
Nowadays healthcare organizations collect large amounts of data daily. This data allows organizations to perform quality measures benchmarked with competing organizations. A study by Harvard Business Review revealed that those organizations that deliver superior patient experience report better technical quality, have better safety records, increased length of stay and better readmission rates.
Nowadays people are more aware of the quality of products and services that they receive across all industries, and healthcare is no exception. A connection was discovered by the National Research Corporation, between the healthcare system reputation and patient experience. The connection stated that the relationship between the hospital and patient is the strongest when the reputation is measured six months later. The clinics and hospitals scoring the highest on the “Most Personalized Care” also were rated highly on “Recommended Hospital” among discharged patients. A healthcare facility’s reputation also depends on other indicators such as accommodations, safety, staff and quality.
Encourages patient engagement
Relationship with the healthcare provider influences patient engagement and care plan adoption which indirectly affects the health outcome. For example, a patient who feels insulted, dismissed, isolated, or unheard will not be interested to engage with a care plan. However, if a patient gets all the resources he was promised and feels supported throughout their stay are more likely to trust their healthcare provider with their health.
It is also critical to educate and train patients on how to use health tech which is developed to improve patient engagement. Patients will be less likely to use technology that they know very little of and would be less engaged.
Boost health outcome
Research shows that the patients who are constantly and actively involved in their healthcare experience better health outcomes and incur a lower cost. This is why healthcare care providers are developing better patient engagement and facilitating patient activation, which is related to the development of skill, ability, knowledge and willingness to manage one’s health and participate in decision making.
It is seen that patients who engage and take ownership of their health and collaborate with their caregivers, achieve the best possible health outcome. To inspire patient engagement, caregivers need to integrate patient behaviour, beliefs and values to encourage a better patient experience. Reports say that people who lack the ability, willingness and skills to commit to their health may incur up to 21% higher healthcare costs than other people.
Measuring patient experience
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is an organization that conducts a program called Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) that helps healthcare organizations assess the patient experience. The results obtained by this program help in improving their quality of care. CAHPS surveys are known for both institutional and ambulatory settings and involve a variety of topics such as customer service, coordination of care, access to care and information, and communication with healthcare professionals.
CAHPS has also incentivized the improvement of the patient experience at healthcare organizations. These surveys and results are published and are available for any patient or physicians to see and use to make more informed decisions. This has also encouraged healthcare organizations to analyze their care model and see how they compare with their competitors. Now with this valuable information in hand organizations can take the needed steps to improve the patient experience in their facility.
Mastering patient experience
After practice, you and your care team will be ready to measure the results of the efforts you have put in and learn how caregivers can improve patient experience in your current healthcare ecosystem. Follow the 5 steps below-mentioned to master patient experience and improve patient satisfaction:
- Gather actionable data insights
- Real-time monitoring for immediate feedback
Various remote patient monitoring devices enable caregivers to provide virtual care that engages patients and adds up to a better patient experience, whereas real-time data gathered by these devices are transferred to healthcare providers. The COVID-19 pandemic propelled the adoption of remote patient monitoring technology for patients and organizations. Remote patient monitoring reduced the logistic-based disruption that accompanied patient data collection, making the process more streamlined and which helped patients receive the desired health outcome.
- Install a solution that allows EHR/EMR integration
Old and outdated electronic health record work, pagination issues and improper UI interactions often lead to lost patient data and undesired outcomes. The inability to transfer patient information between healthcare facilities is the leading reason for clinicians to go out of business. Studies show that around 50% – 70% of clinicians experience high work pressure due to EMR-related work. It takes around 45 min for healthcare staff to schedule a CT scan for a patient after viewing their EHR records. It takes even more time to convince an insurance company to cover the procedure. So this makes the clinicians sit in front of a computer most of the time as the EHRs were created for billing and not patient healthcare delivery. It can relieve much confusion and stress if you choose to install a Care Management platform.
- Power of focus groups and surveys
One of the best ways to obtain insights on patient experience is to gather data from qualitative focus and quantitative surveys. Hospitals can offer some incentives to patients for participating and be thoughtful of the factors that can influence the responses. So one should focus on anonymity and the presence of authoritative people like business suits and scrubs.
2. Unify patient communication
To nurture your patients throughout their care journey, you need an effective care management solution. This solution should be able to integrate EHR/EMR data with patient notifications and portals. You can build a strong patient-provider relationship simply by friendly check-ins about care plans, communicating lab results and new research findings. This leads to improving patient experience and building trust in your care team. Be it call, emails, text or video chats, a care management platform will enable you to meet your patient’s needs.
3. Care Teams
Patient experience is not shaped by a single person but by the entire care team’s effectiveness. As an organization, your objective should be to build quality measures and KPIs to determine how your care team delivers and how the whole process reflects on your organization’s healthcare mission and goals. Focus groups and surveys should be done to gather data on your team experience and the care delivery process. Effective and efficient team collaboration eventually improves patient and providers satisfaction.
4. Employee engagement
The employees who enjoy their jobs are usually those who are engaged and satisfied, as a result, they perform better on quality benchmarks across a healthcare system. According to studies, improving employee engagement can increase patient satisfaction and other factors related to patient experience. Research says that organizations with high employee engagement have 41% less absenteeism than organizations scoring at the bottom. Also, the organization with high employee engagement had 10% higher customer loyalty and 20% more productivity.
5. Innovative technology
A top-notch Care Management technology is needed if an organization wants to achieve excellent satisfaction for its patients and provider. This Care Management platform would be able to integrate patient data and hospital communication. It can increase the access points for patient resources, providing the highest level of data security. It can have a surprising impact on patient experience.
Practice Management Tools for a Good Patient Experience
Caregivers can use a variety of practice management tools such as kiosks, patient portals, real-time patient experience surveys, virtual waiting rooms, and price transparency tools to promote a seamless patient experience throughout the entire care journey. Some of them are as follows:
Online Appointment Scheduler
Without a doubt, the patient portal has now been the most used tool for promoting patient engagement. One of the biggest USPs is the appointment scheduling feature. This feature eliminates the use of long call centre wait times and allows the patient to set up an appointment according to their convenience.
Since patients still create appointments over a phone call, so the mix of telephone communication and patient portal could lead to a mismatch of appointments.
Having an omnichannel platform such as an online appointment scheduler can help improve the patient experience while streamlining the processes side by side. The platform supports online and telephone appointments and also digitizes the provider’s directory.
It helps patients find caregivers based on their preferences or symptoms. The platform allows the patient to either call the caregivers office and speak with the scheduler or schedule an appointment right from the directory.
Virtual Waiting Rooms
During the COVID-19 pandemic, this waiting room technology was used to promote social distancing. When a patient arrived at the care facility, they could check in from their smartphones and wait safely in their vehicles until the healthcare staff was ready to see them.
Virtual waiting rooms helped patients stay connected to the hospital through automated messages that helped them through the check-in process and notified them when the turn was theirs to visit the doctor.
A report revealed that for healthcare organizations, practices must become hip to strategies that enhance the patient experience. Check-in kiosks are another tool to improve the patient experience. It helps patients fill out the traditional paperwork using technology to maximize the hospital’s ability to provide patient-focused care.
Real-Time Patient Experience Surveys
Real-time patient experience surveys are also known as point-of-care surveys. They can help improve the patient experience greatly by addressing health issues as they appear.
Traditional surveys only produced valuable insights once the patients were discharged from the hospital. Another drawback was that most of the surveys were long and relied on outdated methods of data collection such as paper-based surveys and phones.
These surveys give providers patient experience feedback in real-time, suggesting adjustments for better care for individuals. Also, these point-of-care surveys have fewer questions than traditional patient satisfaction surveys.
Price Transparency Tools
CMS (Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has provided Americans with a consumer-friendly list of prices for 300 shoppable services on their website. This is to educate them and the list consists of prices for non-emergency and elective services. CMS also mandates hospitals to put out a list of prices for every item and service provided.
These tools help patients as now the patients know how much to pay and for what. Before opting for a service, patients can now research different providers’ prices, choose the most affordable or high-value options, taking away the surprise of the medical bills. When patients have a clear picture of the cost of the healthcare service, they feel more in control of their care, leading to a good healthcare experience.
Healthcare compliance is an ongoing process of fulfilling or exceeding the ethical, legal and professional standards that are applicable to a particular healthcare organization or provider. Listed below are some of the most common compliances.
GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation is a legal structure that sets directives for the processing and collection of personal information from the citizens of the European Union (EU).
FHIR – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources is a healthcare standard that defines how healthcare information can be exchanged between different computers. It allows information such as administrative data, clinical data and other healthcare information to be available securely to those who need it and to those who have the right to do so.
HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Organizations that deal with PHI (Protected Health Information) must-have networks and process security measures to ensure HIPAA Compliance. Covered aspects such as payment, providing treatment and operation in healthcare and business associates who have access to patient information can provide support in treatment, payment or operation must ensure HIPAA Compliance.
DICOM – Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine is the international standard for medical image transmission and storage. It is universal for medical imaging and is required by law to be used for all medical imaging.
SNOMED CT – Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine — Clinical Terms is a standardized, multilingual vocabulary of clinical terminology that is commonly used by medical staff and other care providers for the electronic exchange of clinical health information.
The healthcare industry has travelled a long way in the past decade. The industry has demonstrated that it is willing and capable to respond to any need of the patient. It also demonstrates that achieving optimal patient satisfaction and patient engagement requires the most innovative healthcare technology.
The environment that we have constructed is taking healthcare to an era where every decision is taken with patients’ experiences in mind.