If we were to look at healthcare in the same way we look at businesses, patients are the consumers. And as consumers who pay money for quality care and service, there are certain standards for the patient experience that need to be met. As mentioned in a previous blog post, we are all patients. At some point in our lives, we have all experienced and been influenced by the healthcare system in more ways than one.
The Beryl Institute recognizes Patient Experience Week as a time to celebrate healthcare professionals and the accomplishments made within the community. The week-long celebration is also a time to reflect and evaluate where improvements can be made. Throughout spending time celebrating, healthcare professionals may have asked themselves and their teams, “Can the standard for quality patient care be raised higher?”
For healthcare professionals looking to improve their current practice, here are a few ways the patient experience can be improved.
Bond improves the patient experience
Healthcare is personal. Patients want to feel comfortable with and supported by their physician. When physicians are able to connect with and engage their patients, they are more likely to be more transparent with them, and hopefully receive the appropriate care following their concerns and needs. But how important is this relationship? In a survey, participants ranked the patient-physician relationship as a top priority in receiving quality care as, “The majority of consumers, regardless of age or health status, want a doctor who is experienced and knowledgeable, listens to their concerns, explains things clearly, and spends as much time as necessary.” Many patients have expressed that their individual needs may have been treated if their physician demonstrated these qualities.
Prioritize convenience by going digital
In the age of consumerism, we want things fast. Time has become its own form of currency, and hospitals seem to struggle with saving it. Patients want shorter wait times and more recently, patients want to be self-sufficient as, “in the future, the patient would approach the facility and be greeted with an alert on their smartphone. They could check-in and be provided directions to their destination.” The patient experience goes beyond the hospital walls; it extends to what they can do in their own time, moments before they arrive for their visit.
The new patient identifies as busy and self-sufficient, so an organization’s use of telemedicine is a key indicator of patient experience value. AMD Global Telemedicine defines telemedicine as a practice that “allows patients in remote locations to access medical expertise quickly, efficiently, and without travel. Telemedicine provides more efficient use of limited expert resources who can ’see’ patients in multiple locations wherever they are needed without leaving their facility.” But just how valuable is this form of care? According to the American Telemedicine Association, “Approximately more than 70% urgent illness conditions can be taken care of with the help of telemedicine,” proving that this new form of care is not only a service that is desired, but also provides effective results.
Patients want digitization, but does that come at a cost? With the demand for a tech-savvy physician, it is only natural to see a shift in focus and what some may call a decline in empathy. Many feel that physicians need to be careful with their digital use as, “Technology has reduced the need for patient contact and few medical offices still use simple patient interfaces,” ultimately hurting the patient and their overall experience with their physician.
Physicians want to focus on what they do best: provide quality care. But it is hard for them to juggle their responsibilities as a care provider while meeting the new desires of the patient, leading to physician burnout.
Why is patient satisfaction paramount?
Just as you can shop around for a new outfit, patients have the ability to shop around for a care provider. If your organization is ranking low in patient satisfaction, then it is only natural to see patients leave. Providers need to work harder to retain their patients by giving them a reason to come back. For example, Western Maryland Health System wanted to understand why patients were returning and how post-discharge follow-up care could be improved. With the help of our Diver Platform, the hospital was able to recognize several areas of care towards improving the patient experience, including:
- Improved patient follow-up care:Prior to the discharge discrepancy report, there were approximately 150 patient mismatches each month. Through the report, and system and process changes, there are now zero mismatches and the care gap has shrunk significantly.
- Reduced readmissions: Lowering 30-day readmissions is critical to improving patient outcomes under the Maryland model. A team consisting of Western Maryland staff and Dimensional Insight consultants translated the HSCRC readmissions specifications into business rules and measures. The result was an accurate and timely daily readmission report plus a companion frequent utilization report that provides detailed patient information on those patients who were frequently readmitted. Together, these reports help medical teams and case managers to optimize patient care.
Interested in learning how your organization can increase patient satisfaction scores? Take a self-guided tour of our software.
Patient Experience Week is celebrated April 22nd-26th. For more information on the week-long celebration, visit The Beryl Institute.
How does the patient-physician relationship affect other areas of patient care? Find out here:
- Healthcare Innovation in 2019: Keeping the Consumer Top of Mind
- How Hospitals Can Improve the Way Providers Interact with Technology
- Empathy in Healthcare: Is There Room for It in the Technological Era?