6 Steps to Improve Patient Experience and Increase Profits
A positive patient experience is a primary factor in determining improved medical outcomes. Studies have shown that the better the experience a patient has during a medical visit, the more likely they are to follow through on the treatment plan to a successful outcome.
Providers and patients should strive to work together to improve health. A patient’s greater engagement in healthcare contributes to improved health outcomes, and information technologies can support engagement. Patients want to be engaged in their healthcare decision-making process, and those who are engaged as decision-makers in their care tend to be healthier and have better outcomes.
What Is Patient Experience?
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), defines patient experience as the range of interactions that patients have with the health care system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities.
As an integral component of health care quality, patient experience includes several aspects of health care delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with healthcare providers.
Patient Experience is important to understand for your practice. When you’re able to look at various aspects of the patient experience, you can assess the extent to which your patients are receiving care that is respectful of and responsive to their individual preferences, needs, and values.
An article by Concentra, a national healthcare company, discussed that when a physician develops a positive rapport with a patient, understanding the elements that can impact his or her injury progression and help them take an active role in recovery, the patient is more likely to comply with the treatment. The opposite is also true if the physician does a poor job at this phase, the patient is more unlikely to comply with the treatment program.
The main idea is that a great physician-patient engagement can have a major impact on the overall outcome of a case.
Happy Patients, Healthy Margins
A study conducted by Accenture, showed some interesting findings regarding the correlation between patient happiness and higher profit margins. It suggests that implementing a superior customer experience doesn’t just strengthen patient engagement — it also correlates to 50 percent higher hospital margins.
Why Patient Experience Is Important
A survey conducted by Kelton Global on behalf of West Healthcare suggests that only 20 percent of patients reported that their health has improved over the past year, even though patients said they were paying more.
These healthcare issues are leaving patients with a poor outlook on the industry as a whole, the survey administrators found. Forty-three percent of patients said they are frustrated with the healthcare industry, 38 percent said they are disappointed, and 29 percent said they are stressed about their current healthcare issues.
And patients aren’t alone. Many providers surveyed agree the American healthcare system does not make patients feel confident they are getting the best possible care.
Cost cutting has long been the strategy hospital systems have first turned to for improving margins. Patient experience, on the other hand, is often viewed as a cost driver, with limited to no measurable financial upside.
Six practices you can implement to better engage the health consumer
The study also provides helpful insights into how you can develop and implement key practices today that will encourage better communications with your patients, and improve revenue along the way.
- Put Patients First – Use what you know about the patient to create experiences people appreciate. Personalize communications, interact with patients via their preferred channels, and always relate medical information and advice to their individual situation.
- Inspire Your People – Empower your people to do great things. Help everyone in the organization understand the crucial role they play in making patients healthier and happier, and align rewards and incentives to achieve common goals.
- Build Trust and Loyalty – Demonstrate that your first priority is your patient’s health and welfare. Ensure personal health information is secured. Design digital interactions to build confidence and simplify messaging to create dialogue rather than diagnosis. Build relationships across the care continuum to deliver coordinated care and improved outcomes.
- Embed Digital Everywhere – Recognize that you must meet your patients wherever they are and wherever they go. Develop both internal and external patient-facing digital capabilities that go beyond traditional back-office systems, websites, and mobile applications
- Make It Easy – Guide patients to the right doctors to get the care they need when and where they need it, and help them understand how much care will cost in advance. Empower patients to do these things on their own, but make yourself available to their health advocate when they need you.
- Continuously Innovate – Recognize the future of healthcare extends beyond the four walls of a traditional care setting. Challenge yourself to find better ways to address your patients’ needs through new technologies and unprecedented collaboration that push the limits of traditional care.
What does this mean for your practice?
Patients and providers agree that healthcare quality has room for improvement. There is a lot of frustration surrounding outcomes and accountability, and rising healthcare costs only exacerbate those issues.
Your patients want to be healthier. Engage more with your patients. When you help to improve their care quality and deliver better outcomes, your profits will increase as a result.