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Danielle Hoverman , Jan 3, 2019

The healthcare landscape is increasingly changing. There’s a new generation of tech-savvy millennials who demand more convenient, hassle-free ways of accessing health services. And, companies that are pros at delivering exceptional customer experiences are entering the healthcare industry. That’s right, Amazon is entering the healthcare industry.

New ways of receiving healthcare and new players in the industry have made it critical for healthcare systems to focus on retaining and attracting new patients. This requires identifying new ways to improve patient experience.

What is Patient Experience

In order to identify and implement tactics that improve patient experience, it’s important to, first, have a clear understanding of what patient experience is and what it’s not.

Patient experience is about understanding what’s most important to patients, not catering to every patients’ far out requests and demands.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines patient experience as:

Patient experience encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the healthcare 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 healthcare quality, patient experience includes several aspects of healthcare 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.

Simply put, patients expect more than just high-quality care. They expect personalization, convenience, digital savvy, timeliness, follow-up, compassion, and courtesy.

Why Patient Experience Matters

Let’s make the concept of patient experience a little more relatable to your every day. Imagine walking into a restaurant. You probably wouldn’t rate your experience solely on the quality of food, right? I know I wouldn’t. Whenever I dine at a restaurant I have my mental checklist of what makes my experience great, OK, or poor. I ask myself questions like: How was I greeted by the hostess?

  • How long did I have to wait to be seated?
  • How attentive was the waitress or waiter?
  • How quickly did my food come out?
  • Was the dish I got what I expected?
  • How was the overall atmosphere?

If I’ve had a bad experience, I’m on Google Business Reviews and/or Yelp telling the world about the waiter who took 10 minutes to come to the table after I was seated or my entree that had undercooked chicken and overcooked rice. If I’ve had a stellar experience, one that exceeded my expectations, I’m on Google Business Reviews and/or Yelp raving about the waitress who never let my beverage get below half full or the perfectly seasoned 8oz steak I ordered.

Do you see the common denominator in this scenario? It’s all based on how I felt during my experience at the restaurant. I would bet that you evaluate similar things when dining at a restaurant. You, too, probably rate your restaurant experience not just on food quality, but on how you feel during your experience.

That’s the world we live in today. And, it doesn’t matter what industry you are in. Consumers shape their preferences on more than just the quality of the product or service. They also shape their preferences on how the product or service was received and how it makes them feel.

So, what does that mean for your healthcare system? It means that the full patient experience matters. It means you have to start thinking like a patient. Ask yourselves questions based around how the patients feel when they visit your facility and receive care. Questions like:

  • How do patients and families feel when they walk in?
  • What type of environment are we providing? Is it supportive and welcoming?
  • Is our waiting area comfortable and clean?
  • How long are patients waiting to be seen?
  • How are we personalizing each patients’ experience?
  • Are we simplifying the experience?
  • Are we meeting or exceeding expectations for care quality?

And, what do you think happens when a patient has a bad experience? They’re online writing reviews on Google and their insurance providers websites about the rude receptionist and the 30 minutes past appointment time they had to wait. And, if the experience is really bad, contacting the Better Business Bureau.

Likewise, when a patient has a good experience, they’re online writing reviews on Google and their insurance providers websites about the enthusiastic receptionist who greeted them warmly and the doctor who had prior knowledge of their health history to provide better care.

Your healthcare system’s online ratings and reviews directly affect whether or not people choose to receive care from you. Reputation.com sought to identify the impact of online reviews on selecting healthcare providers. They found that 80% of respondents claim the online ratings and reviews influenced their choice of provider. Even more, 68% have selected one provider over another based on ratings and reviews.

Not only will people choose a healthcare provider based on online reviews, they will also delay care to see a doctor with better reviews. The same survey by found that ⅔ of people will wait longer for an appointment with a doctor that has better online reviews. Even more, 52% of Millennials and 41% of people born before 1980 will pay more to see a doctor with better online reviews.

What Does This Mean for Your Healthcare System

Patient experience matters. It matters to the number of returning and new patients you have. It matters to your bottomline. A good patient experience matters and can lead to increased revenue from additional patients while a bad experience can lead to decreased revenue as current and potential patients choose other providers. A good patient experience matters and can increase the lifetime value of your patients while a bad experience can decrease the lifetime value of your patients as they seek care from other, higher-rated providers.

Is patient experience important to your healthcare system? What are some things your healthcare system is doing to improve patient experience?

Category: Patient Experience
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