Improving patient experience is ranked as one of the most important elements for growth and success for a healthcare business as 84 % of health leaders rank Patient Experience as the top priority (CDW Healthcare Leaders Media Intelligence). Patient experience is referred to as the collective effect of all interactions with a healthcare provider or facility influencing how patients feel about the care they receive.
Patient Experience also significantly impacts healthcare business entities dealing with the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and how Value-based purchasing incentive payments(VBP) are tied to the patient experience. About 2% of DRG payments are withheld every year, with 30% reimbursement tied to CHAPAS; factors like these affect the overall patient experience and force them to switch over time. Such means need to improve significantly for the healthcare providers and businesses to increase patient care and eventually improve the patient experience.
Another factor that affects the patient’s decision to choose a healthcare provider is the cost. Healthcare organizations must focus their efforts to deliver accountable, high-quality care for patients at an affordable price. Engaging patients for their health, wellness, and medical decisions have become the center stage for any healthcare organization’s survival.
Here are IT Tools for Healthcare Providers to improve Patient Experience:
- Ability to identify and track patients – Supported by “EHR” and “Patient Registration Technologies.”
- Promote Provider-Patient communications – Supported by “Secure Messaging,” “Tele-Visits,” “Social Media.”
- Increase patients’ access to personal information and enable them with more self-service capabilities – Supported by “Patient Portals,” “Patient maintained Health Records,” “Personal Health Records.”
- Facilitate and support patient self-care activities – Supported by “Telemedicine,” “Telemonitoring,” “Mobile Health.”
The path forward for your healthcare organization to improve Patient Experience:
Considering the complexity of all factors impacting patient experience, it is important to target these areas to build a baseline foundation to provide the best patient care and patient experience:
- Create a Valuable online presence
Your online presence — such as your healthcare website and local directory profiles — is the best way to make a terrific first impression with prospective patients.
Your site is the online home base and acts as a reflection of your practice’s overall brand. To help patients understand what to expect from your clinic, ensure that you’re providing clear, consistent information about site pages, such as the About Us, Service, and Contact pages. Showcase high-quality photos of your practice (both exterior and interior ) so patients can find a feeling of your brand before they visit. It’s also an excellent idea to include testimonials from current patients, which can help generate trust.
You will also want your practice to be correctly represented beyond your site. Claim and update your profiles on important internet business and healthcare directories to add photographs, location information, and hours. Ensure that your profiles link to your site. Do you have a website already? If not, you can get in touch and find more about it here.
- Offer online scheduling to patients
Give patients the freedom and convenience to book appointments online with your clinic/urgent care. Based on Accenture, 68 percent of health care consumers are more inclined to select a physician who offers the capability to reserve, cancel, or change appointments online. According to Intuit, 47 percent of individuals would consider switching doctors for a clinic that provided the ability to complete significant healthcare tasks online, such as appointment scheduling.
Bottom line: Purchasing online scheduling to your clinic will better meet new and returning patients, significantly improving patient experience. If you wanna install online scheduling on your website, get in touch with us.
- Send appointment confirmations and reminders to patients
Patients are busy. Help them stay in communication with your clinic with appointment confirmations and reminders. Not only do automated reminders, let patients know that you appreciate their time, but they also help you reduce costly no-shows.
Send appointment confirmations via email or SMS/text after patients have reserved, and then send a reminder three days before a scheduled appointment requesting them to confirm. If a patient does not affirm, send another reminder the day before and even an hour before the appointment. If this all is too overwhelming for you, use an automated service to have this whole process streamlined and automated.
- Make paperwork available on Your Site
Decrease the tedious tasks for patients when they arrive at your urgent care’s waiting room by giving them a choice to view, print, and fill out intake forms before their trip/appointment. Patients can complete the necessary paperwork when convenient for them and prevent completing it in a hurry before an appointment; this significantly improves the patient experience and saves them much time.
- Instruct the front office staff to be friendly and helpful
Providing an excellent experience in a patient’s visit is imperative to keep patients coming back. A warm, welcoming attitude from the front office staff helps set the tone from the minute they walk in the door. Simple gestures such as saying hello, smiling, and being friendly throughout the check-in procedure are often all it takes to begin the visit off perfect.
- Make sure the waiting room is super clean and comfortable
Make your waiting room a location that is enjoyable for patients before their appointment. Avoid hard furniture and harsh lighting. Instead, fill your urgent care/clinic’s area with comfy seating, use warm light to create a more welcoming environment, and flow spa-like songs to relax patients. Giving your patients a temperate region to unwind will feel more like a break from their hectic day and less like an inconvenience.
- Keep wait times to a minimum
A little wait is acceptable and expected, but patients become frustrated when they feel that they are not being respected because of excessive wait times.
Most (84 percent) of individuals think that wait time is either very or somewhat important to the overall experience in a physician’s office. One in every five people has changed physicians because of long wait times, based on Sapphire Digital (previously Vitals). Waiting time is acceptable, but too much waiting time ruins the patient experience.
Do not forget that communication is crucial. If you know you are running a bit behind, ensure that the staff tells patients how long they could expect to wait. They’ll appreciate your transparency.
- Follow up appointments with a feedback questionnaire
After the trip, use thoughtful touchpoints to interact with patients to show them you appreciate their feedback. Sending automated patient satisfaction surveys via text or email will yield increased engagement since patients are not as likely to submit a questionnaire by themselves. This makes them believe that their opinions matter and helps improve the overall patient experience.
sending a questionnaire shortly after a trip is the best time to receive feedback since the experience remains top of mind. Even negative comments can help enhance your services’ quality and result in happier patients (and better reviews) over time. If you don’t know how to send automated surveys, you can check out here. (ADD LINK)
- Immediately respond to online feedback
Responding to feedback, both good and bad, is important as gathering feedback from patients. Thoughtful responses foster trust with patients and show you care about their experiences with your health practice.
Don’t avoid the critical feedback, as the PatientPop study proves that a clinic’s reviewers are fulfilled by the procedure about 60 percent of their time. Politely acknowledge the author, and invite them to contact you directly to deal with their experience.
Reminder: Be compliant with the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, when responding to testimonials or comments online. This means you shouldn’t ever affirm that a reviewer is a patient or cite any Protected Health Information (PHI) such as their name, location, dates, and social media profile.
- Share helpful content on Social Networking and a blog
Creating and sharing articles on your site and social networking profiles is an excellent way to offer valuable health information and increase patient satisfaction.
Consider what patients need to learn more about the treatments and services that you offer. Which are the most commonly asked questions? Then create timely, educational content that addresses these questions.
To demonstrate your authority on your specialty, share a mixture of your original content and other medical blogs or news articles. Sharing your initial blog posts on social websites is an excellent way to drive visitors to your practice site to learn more. Did you know that blogging and social media marketing can drastically change your healthcare business’s marketing. If you want to know more about healthcare SEO, you can know more here.
- Remain in touch with patients through their inbox
Email is just another way to have thoughtful communication with patients, probably through a regular newsletter or promotional offers. Patients even prefer email updates: 91 percent of adults prefer to receive promotional emails from companies they patron, based on Marketing Sherpa.
Use mails to send appointment reminders, alert patients to new discounts and services you offer, and supply healthcare tips. This helps them stay in touch with your healthcare business and helps improve the patient experience.
Numerous elements go into a positive patient experience. Taking the necessary actions to create a terrific experience for your patients can help boost patient satisfaction, resulting in higher patient retention and a more significant amount of favorable online reviews.
How to Measure Patient Experience:
HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey is the first national, standardized, publicly responded survey of patients. It is a 27 item survey asking different questions to measure patient hospital experience. This survey allows hospitals to collect data to hear first-hand from their patients as to how well they are doing in providing quality healthcare. HCAHP surveys provide valuable data for hospitals to identify areas of weakness in their process, e.g., clinical process issues, scheduling issues, etc.
Industry experts recommend adopting a proactive approach and buy/create solutions to continuously reach out to your patients for feedback and continuously monitor and act on the input and look for opportunities to improve.
One such proactive solution for Hospitals and healthcare systems is contacting recently discharged patients via SMS/email and asking them to provide feedback. Some organizations are taking it to the next level, where they route their happy patients to socialize their experience on social media channels for their business.