by Larry Mead, Kate Kompelien and Kurt Schroeder
Boiled down to their basest form, patient demands include that a provider know who they are, communicate efficiently, address their personal needs and maintain simple access to care documents and information.
Addressing these demands requires a comprehensive approach. Building a 360-degree customer experience involves the implementation, optimization and integration of multiple technologies and best practices. Understanding your patients’ demands, and the strategies for meeting them, is vital to the ongoing success of your practice or organization.
There are a number of key goals all medical providers should strive for when creating an effective patient experience, including:
- Maintaining effective communications
- Knowing your patient
- Supporting patients in all stages of the selection and care process
Communication Is Key
As we’ve already seen, today’s patient expects an unparalleled level of communication from their healthcare provider. This goes far beyond simply answering their phone calls or responding to emails. The modern patient expects a much deeper level of interaction with their provider, including:
- Omni-channel communication: The modern patient communicates with their healthcare provider in many ways, including over the phone, online, through forums and in person. Despite the challenges of managing and maintaining peak effectiveness of each of these channels, doing so should be a focus of any healthcare provider.
- Responsiveness: Patients expect swift responses to their questions and concerns. This means making a commitment to tracking patient communication and following up as quickly and effectively as possible.
- 24/7 access to information: The ongoing advancements in mobile and networking technology have led to an increase in patient expectations regarding 24/7 access to assistance. Maintaining availability around the clock ensures patient access and eliminates the frustrations of forcing patients to operate within standard hours.
- Language flexibility: We live in a diverse society made up of speakers of countless languages. Providing support for your patients, regardless of their native language, helps to put them at ease during a troubling or confusing point in their lives.
Creating and maintaining the wide range of communication channels and supporting technologies can be difficult. The effort is worth it, however, as the more options patients are given to access your services, the more likely they are to continue to remain loyal.
Know Your Patient
Effective communication is just the first expectation of today’s patient. Modern patients also expect their provider to know who they are each and every time they interact with a representative. Today’s medical providers are expected to:
- Know their patients’ history: The digitization of medical records has eased the challenge of tracking a patient’s history. Maintaining detailed records of a patient’s medical history, preferences and interactions with your organization is vital to your ability to support the patient to the fullest.
- Understand their patients’ needs: In order to streamline the experience, medical providers should make an effort to understand and predict the communications, medical and support needs of patients. This includes understanding patient preferences, predicting changes in patient needs and planning strategies for managing the future requirements of current and potential patients.
- Track current treatment plans: No patient wants to have to explain their current treatment plan or medications to a care provider, especially when that provider is responsible for the treatment plan in question. Carefully tracking your patients’ treatment plans is vital to the quality of care, and their overall experience with your organization.
Obtaining and leveraging patient information to its fullest is key to providing the effective experience your patients demand.
Support Patients at all Stages
The most successful medical providers take great care to support patients at all stages in their experience. Medical providers offer support to patients in a wide range of ways, including:
- Self-service portals: The rapid rise in mobile computing and internet access has led many patients to expect online access to their medical provider. From appointment scheduling to follow-up documentation, self-service portals play a key role in the interaction between providers and modern patients.
- Mobile applications: Smart phones and tablets have become the go-to tool for many patients seeking to access medical data or scheduling information. Many medical providers have seized the opportunity offered by mobile devices by creating custom applications that give patients the ability to manage their own care on their own time.
- Additional resources: Medical providers that offer additional resources, such as support groups, informational resources, community forums and other outlets are able to eliminate much of the fear and confusion patients feel when facing health issues. This leads to a much better experience overall, and lessens the strain placed on patients and professionals throughout the treatment process.
By offering supportive programs and applications, your organization can streamline the patient experience and instill a sense of loyalty that leads to repeat business. In the next entry in our Patient Experience blog series, we’ll explore the technologies and best practices that go into creating effective interactions.