TIPS for Focusing on the Patient Experience

0
34

By Djamel Bayliche

Today’s healthcare environment is no doubt a changing landscape – with new regulations, alternative reimbursement models, and innovations in clinical care.  This continuous transformation of our healthcare system places increasing responsibility in the hands of patients and their loved ones, who are realizing that, now more than ever, they have choices about the care they receive.   This shift has encouraged providers to understand the importance of ensuring that patient and family needs are not only met, but exceeded.  A new reality is emerging: patient experience is a defining characteristic of true quality care.

Fortunately, tremendous opportunities exist for providers seeking to create a competitive advantage in their market or industry niche through excellent patient experience. When focusing on patient experience as a competitive advantage, consider the following Corazon TIPS that will help ensure success in this important effort:

Cover the Basics.  Patients tend to judge their experience based on how they are treated as unique individuals and the empathy shown by everyone encountered. Very few patient consumers understand the complex treatments and technologies involved in care delivery, or the high level of clinical skills required, or even the multi-faceted behind-the-scenes operations of a hospital.  But everyone understands and recognizes the basics of being cared for – a clean room, kind staff, clear communications, etc.   Published satisfaction scores across the country reveal that nearly 30% of patients would not recommend a hospital or care provider to their family, friends, or neighbors purely based on their experience.  From purely a patient perspective, excellent clinical intervention can easily be trumped by an overall poor patient experience based on a lack of comfort.

Consider the Full Continuum.  “Experience” is not limited to encounters with clinicians.  In fact, the overall hospital experience begins before the patient even arrives.  For instance, difficulty scheduling an appointment has the potential to cloud the perception prior to the actual visit that has yet to occur!  Patient experience encompasses all interactions between the patient and their family members at every touch point…from the parking lot attendant, to the physician, to the bedside caregiver, to the Finance representative.  Corazon recommends creating a sense of awareness and culture that ensures everyone directly or indirectly involved in the care process look at everything they do through the eyes of the patient and family.  Every touch point should be expected to act as a care giver, and also view themselves as such.

Ask for feedback and follow-through.  Do you know or do you seek to know how your patients and their family feel about the services you provide? Do you listen to their concerns? And if so, what strategies are you employing to address patient complaints?  These are just a few of the questions that can lead to overall improvements in the components of patient experience, no matter how minor.  Hospital or program leaders might be unaware of issues that exist – patients will voice their opinion; only the most progressive hospitals use the data to their advantage to make real and substantial change.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Education.  Focus should be placed on setting realistic patient expectations, ensuring better patient preparation, and facilitating education throughout the continuum of care.  Empathizing with patient and family uncertainty, fear, or skepticism about a procedure, and providing the resources or materials to ease any concerns will do much to create a safe environment where a patient feels comfortable with and confident about the care they will receive.    

Today, it is no longer acceptable for providers to be content with excellent clinicians and the most up-to-date facilities and technology…Creating a positive patient experience has become the new pinnacle of quality.  The healthcare market currently represents 18% of the nation’s GDP and it is projected to reach 34% by 2040.  Given the depth and breadth of this industry, every American will impact and be impacted by the healthcare market.  Thus, it is in our best interest as a society that patient exposure to healthcare services is a positive experience.

Further, the demand for better patient experience will continue to increase with emphasis on care delivery that is tailored to a patient’s unique schedule and needs, rather than provider schedules and/or process limitations.  The providers who respond to these patient needs will be the ones who reap the rewards of the new paradigm shift in the healthcare delivery system.  

Corazon offers consulting, recruitment, interim management, and physician practice & alignment services to hospitals and practices in the heart, vascular, neuro, and orthopedics specialties.  Find Corazon on facebook at www.facebook.com/corazoninc or on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/corazon-inc.  To learn more, call 412-364-8200 or visit www.corazoninc.com.