What is Patient Experience?
The term patient experience describes the cumulative interactions that people have within a healthcare system. Patient interactions encompass everything from visiting a clinic and medical professionals’ treatment to customer service representatives from their healthcare plan. Some leading components of the patient experience include clear communication with providers, easily accessible information, and the ability to make timely appointments.
Healthcare organizations looking to move towards patient-centered care must have a deep understanding of patient needs. Gaining this understanding starts with evaluating all aspects of patient care to ensure respectful responsiveness to patient needs. Healthcare organizations must also evaluate patient care’s safety and effectiveness when determining how to improve the patient experience.
Why it is so Important?
A positive experience is essential for patient retention purposes, but its value goes far beyond that. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) stresses that positive patient experience strongly correlates with improved clinical outcomes.
For example, patients with chronic health conditions are more likely to manage their condition well when interactions with providers are positive. Better care experiences result in improved outcomes after hospitalization as well. Engaging in an ongoing evaluation of patient’s needs and care reveals gaps such as lack of communication or delays in test results. When these scenarios happen too often, it can negatively impact patient engagement after the appointment or discharge.
Tools to Improve Patient Experience
Healthcare providers have several tools available to them to create an improved and satisfying care experience for their patients. We highlight three of them below.
Healthcare organizations that rely solely on telephone calls for appointment reminders may be missing more obvious ways to connect with patients. According to AHRQ, the average response time for a text message is 90 seconds. The patient needs to click a button to confirm or cancel the appointment. People also check their email many more times per day than they check their voicemail. They are much more likely to respond to an email reminder than call the clinic back to confirm an appointment.
A patient portal is a separate area of a healthcare provider’s secure website where people can access their healthcare information. With 24-hour access to their health information, patient portals can be an efficient way to improve patient engagement. Patients can log in to their portal account from any device and any location with an Internet connection. Implementing a patient portal also offers numerous benefits for providers, including the following:
- Saves time at check-in by having people complete registration forms and pay their co-pay ahead of their appointment.
- Faster communication with other members of a patient’s care team.
- Send messages to patients regarding appointment reminders, lab results, and balance due statements.
- Patients can request refills, check lab results and appointment summaries, and request appointments.
- Patients can log in electronically when they arrive at the clinic. This check-in process allows them to bypass the front desk entirely if they have already completed online check-in.
All information sent by patients and providers via a portal takes place in a secure and HIPAA-compliant environment. Providers benefit with improved efficiency and maximized revenue while patients primarily benefit from convenience.
Virtual Consultation and Telehealth:
Completing an initial consultation or routine appointment by telehealth is another opportunity to provide convenience for patients. Any patient with access to the Internet can request a video visit from providers that offer it. Examples of when telehealth may be preferable include:
- Wellness visits
- Mental health counseling
- Routine eye exams
- Nutritional counseling
- Requesting medication or a refill of a current prescription
- Conditions that patients would have visited urgent care for in the past such as a urinary tract infection
Telehealth, which was already growing in popularity before the COVID-19 pandemic, has become much more popular since then. Not only do patients view it as convenient, but they also see video visits as a way to reduce their exposure. The ability to avoid commuting and taking off additional time from work are significant selling points to improve patient engagement. Telehealth Whitepaper
What are the Outcomes of Improving Patient Experience for Healthcare Organizations and Patients?
A positive patient interaction is crucial to all healthcare organizations’ reputation ranging from private practices to large hospitals. Healthcare facilities that make patient experience and increased patient engagement a priority can expect these benefits:
- Patients who have an overall favorable impression of their experience are far less likely to file a malpractice claim.
- Healthcare organizations with a positive public reputation attract more patients and earn more revenue. This is especially important in an era when patients spend more time researching their healthcare options. The change has come about due to insurance companies shifting a more significant burden of costs and increased information availability.
- Employees report greater satisfaction with their jobs when employers focus on improved experience. Job satisfaction is one of the leading factors in reducing the high cost of employee turnover.
From a patient’s perspective, their provider relationships’ quality determines whether they stay or seek care elsewhere. AHRQ reports that patients who feel disrespected or receive poor quality care are three times as likely to leave a practice.
How Does a Better Patient Experience Improve the Overall Health Outcome?
Healthcare organizations concerned with patient experience have found the most success with shifting the delivery model to patient-centered care. Implementing patient-centered care means everyone in the organization respects each patient’s needs, values, preferences, and experiences. They care about patient education and comfort while also striving to meet continuity of care.
A positive patient experience improves both follow-up and health outcomes. Patients who feel supported in their health challenge are more willing to communicate with their provider and less likely to skip appointments. This results in better management of conditions, fewer hospitalizations, and reduced need for diagnostic testing. Removing access barriers by making it easier for patients to schedule and complete appointments also encourage proactive healthcare.
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PrognoCIS offers a full suite of electronic healthcare solutions including telehealth, patient portals, medical billing, and productivity applications. We invite healthcare organizations to request a demo or contact us at 1.408.873.3030 with additional questions.