by Kurt Schroeder and John Seeds
As the pandemic puts more stress on healthcare systems, providers must alter their operations to stay ahead of changing patient demands. Additionally, providers must focus on delivering outstanding patient experiences to support these operational changes, or risk compromising healthcare outcomes and reducing confidence in the healthcare system. When patients have an engaging and personalized experience, they are more likely to participate in the care plan and follow the clinical recommendations, ultimately resulting in better health care outcomes.
To successfully move forward, healthcare providers must embrace two concepts: 1) the importance of an exceptional patient experience and 2) that technology can help them handle increased demands while making the engagements and interactions more satisfying for patients. These core principles will allow providers to personalize the care, improve outcomes and address the accelerated changes impacting this industry.
Unfortunately, many of the legacy systems common in healthcare are unable meet the evolving expectations. To give patients the best experience possible, providers must upgrade to more innovative solutions and processes that are integrated and leverage smart technology in all they do.
The Importance of Boosting the Patient Experience
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly altered the healthcare landscape at health systems, hospitals and clinics. All healthcare organizations have been impacted, and to better pivot and support the new landscape, provider organizations must begin by understanding the needs of patients and their subsequent journey - from beginning to end. Traditionally, patients would rely on personal referrals to find their physician, interact with them in telephone as well as face-to-face settings and struggle to manage and even understand the paperwork and bills.
The pandemic has accelerated innovation by many years, as more and more patients now expect their health care partners to digitally transform and provide experiences like retail and hospitality organizations. Patients now largely operate in a digital world, so instead of only relying on referrals from friends and family, 88% go online to read reviews and weigh their options. For example, half of them go to multiple websites before choosing a provider and scheduling their appointment, and their reliance on digital technology does not end there.
The pandemic also has more people looking for virtual care options to avoid going into the traditional “brick and mortar” clinics and hospitals where there is a perceived increased risk of catching COVID-19. Many patients now prefer online and self-service tools to make appointments, manage their healthcare records, connect with their physician, and even manage their health. At each step of the journey, healthcare organizations much ensure the patient data is safe and secure.
By using digital technology to meet the needs and expectations of your patients, many positive outcomes can be achieved:
- Improved patient retention and loyalty
- Increase in new patients
- More five-star online reviews
- Reduced cost of care
- Improved coordination of care
- Improved engagement leading to better outcomes
- Boost to annual revenues
- Employee satisfaction improvements
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Quality Patient Care Practices That Benefit Everyone
Although it’s important to understand what your patients need, actually putting all the pieces into practice can be a complex and intimidating prospect. However, there are some specific places to start.
Embrace a Patient-First Mentality
Beyond the digital realm, providers must ask, “How does this benefit the patient?” in everything they do. If a process could act as a barrier to engaging with your organization, then eliminate it. If a process can be replaced with a digital alternative that reduces friction, consider it. Only by putting patients first can you improve the healthcare experience.
When it comes to meeting the needs of your patients, technology can lead the way. Digital systems can bring providers, staff and patients together. With the right tools in place, it’s possible to make the health care process frictionless and support your patients. Your systems should offer the following capabilities:
- Self-service – including appointment scheduling and bill pay
- Virtual Care – delivered via telehealth and video visits
- Communication tools – leverage patient portals, chat bots and digital apps
Integrate Data Management Systems
Health care does not end when your patient leaves the clinic doors. To provide holistic care, providers must collaborate with other members of the care team to ensure patients get the best quality of care. Data silos can slow down collaboration, negatively impact outcomes and the patient experience, as well as cause unnecessary frustration. Fortunately, data management systems can empower information sharing with other employees and organizations, allowing you to ultimately provide a better, more efficient experience for your patients.
Improve Data Compliance Standards
Patients are more concerned than ever about the safety and security of their healthcare data. To meet the expectations of your patients, as well as comply with regulation standards, providers must prioritize data compliance as they integrate digital technology. To maintain and grow the trust of your patients, communication around this goal is also critical. If your patients do not feel like their data is secure, they may not sign up or allow digital access. Working with established partners can accelerate the implementation of these solutions, while lagging adoption will impact the patient experience, your brand and your bottom line.
Grow Employee Training and Support
The technology used in healthcare is only as good as the training employees receive. If providers and staff members do not know how to successfully leverage the systems, then they cannot enjoy all its benefits. Without the right training and education, providers may miss out on key functions that would otherwise boost patient satisfaction and streamline their processes.
To ensure that patients receive the best experience possible with new digital tools, all provider employees should get ongoing training and support around your systems. Additionally, providers should implement regular monitoring to ensure staff members are making full use of the technology at their fingertips.
Your patient experience should be personal, consistent, and build strong ambassadors of customer loyalty. At Avtex, we know how to best adapt your healthcare organization to meet changing demands while keeping the patient experience a top priority. Contact us today to get started on the evolution of your patient experience program.