Patients often like their doctor or nursing staff but dread other aspects of the patient experience—such as paying bills, setting up appointments, or interactions (or lack thereof) in between appointments—because they might be filled with friction and poor customer service.
If your healthcare organization has dealt with decreased patient satisfaction rates, or struggles to improve patient satisfaction rates due to similar problems, it’s time to re-evaluate the importance of patient care. With the right systems and tools, enhancing the patient experience can lead to happier patients and improved Net Promoter Scores in no time.
Patient satisfaction is changing because consumers are expecting more
As millennials and younger generations take a more active role in their health and begin to care for their aging parents, they expect more from their care teams. This is the generation of instant gratification—they grew up surrounded by companies that provided products and services quickly, conveniently, and easily.
Millennials have high expectations for the organizations and people they interact with, and those expectations apply to the healthcare industry, as well. These new, seemingly high expectations shouldn’t discourage healthcare organizations, however. Instead, care centers can use this as an opportunity to switch their focus to personalized treatments and value-based care—a paradigm shift that is already happening within the industry—so that patients are genuinely content with the level of care they receive.
With access to the internet, consumers have far more information at their fingertips now than ever before. You’ve likely seen the memes poking fun at people self-diagnosing on WebMD, but there is some truth (and some good) to self-empowered searches. Patients are able to take symptoms and ailments into their own hands by researching what, exactly, might be bothering them.
Thanks to online reviews, patients are also able to “shop around” for doctors more easily than ever before. Shopping for a doctor is a great thing for consumers but can be deadly for healthcare centers that fall short on heightened demands and expectations. Instead of accepting mediocre care because they believe it’s the best they’re going to find, patients can go online to learn how specific clinicians have helped heal their patients.
More than ever, patients feel empowered to take an active role in their healthcare. In part, this sense of empowerment is a result of high deductible health plans—and more expensive copays mean that patients are expected to pay out-of-pocket for care services more and more. A study conducted by JP Morgan Chase Institute revealed that consumers increase their out-of-pocket spending by 60 percent the week after they get their tax refund.
This study indicates that many patients may be putting off going to the doctor because they can’t afford to pay for healthcare services in full. So, when they do open their wallets, they expect exemplary care.
Our society, as a whole, is experiencing a new age of personalization. Companies from every vertical are embracing their employees’ and customers’ individual traits, skills, and strengths that make them unique. When it comes to a person’s health, personalization could not be more relevant. Every patient’s unique genes, conditions, and way of living affect how they should be treated in a clinical setting.
Social determinants of health, comorbidities, and health history all need to play a role in determining a care plan for each individual. But just how can clinicians honor a patient’s individuality, provide a standardized quality of patient care, and increase patient satisfaction all at once? They do so by embracing a value-based care model that treats patients holistically.
Value-based care models are not a fleeting trend—this proactive approach to healthcare is here to stay. Instead of simply viewing them as customers, clinicians are partnering with their patients to create genuine, trusting relationships. When a patient truly trusts their care team, patient satisfaction increases tenfold.
While this may seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. By integrating streamlined technology at your healthcare facility, communication and collaboration happen easily and effectively. This way, your team can focus on what really matters: providing the highest-quality care.
Steps to improve patient satisfaction
As the people in your care expect better patient experiences each time, healthcare providers will need to evolve to meet those demands—otherwise, patients will find a provider that does. Here’s how to improve patient satisfaction.
Personalize the experience
Low patient satisfaction rates stem largely from the patient feeling like they are just a number. In fact, according to a study conducted by West Corporation, about one in five patients isn’t entirely convinced their healthcare provider is focused on improving their health, and over one in four patients doesn’t feel that their clinician cares about them as a person. This lack of personalization can leave your patient feeling like you don’t actually care, which is more than enough to send them out the door.
You can make patients feel appreciated and understood by personalizing the experience, learning details about them that go beyond just their medical history, and making sure to always greet them with a smile when you first walk into the exam room or office (and always using friendly language during any digital communications, too). A little respect and kindness go a long way! It’s not just about what’s on their chart. Remember, they’re individuals, not another data point. With healthcare-focused technology, personalization is made even easier.
Whether your care organization consists of a small private practice team or a nationwide network of healthcare centers, communication and management tools can help you adjust your care protocols for each patient—in a scalable way that honors your team’s capacities. Find a Care Management program that keeps a record of patients’ personal information, medical history, and interactions with staff so that clinicians can get a comprehensive look at how to approach the patient experience, and adjust accordingly.
Make care experiences more convenient
Today, there are many different models of care that make it much easier for patients to get the help they need and deserve—whether their conditions are physical or mental. For example, you can provide at-home care or telehealth video appointments for a patient who has a chronic illness or other debilitating disease and cannot easily leave the house. The idea is to make the patient experience as easy to access as possible for people from any demographic or income level.
Implement Patient Relationship Management technology to digitize care experiences
To streamline communication and enhance the patient experience, consider introducing a Patient Relationship Management (PRM) software program to assist your care team. PRMs can help you create a more holistic care plan that addresses a patient’s needs throughout their care experience.
Streamline communication between your care team and patients
Communicating with patients has never been easier—you can use your PRM to send paperwork, assessments, reminders, test results, and updates with the click of a button. This ensures that your patient gets the information they need, when they need it.
Care team communication also becomes streamlined with a PRM. When all of a patient’s health information is stored in one place, healthcare teams can be confident that they are providing complete, error-free, informed care—no matter which clinician is on duty that day.
Spend more time caring for patients
PRM tools that include automation features can help you spend less time on administrative tasks and more time taking care of your patients. Moving the care team’s organization tools away from spreadsheets and applications that don’t integrate easily with each other helps refocus time around things on which it should really be spent—quality patient care.
Engage patients on their preferred communication channels
A good PRM program has multiple communication channels to ensure that your care team is reaching patients in the way they prefer to be reached. Whether they respond more quickly to texts or only really check their email inbox, you can be sure that you are connecting with them and addressing their needs beyond merely the walls of your care center.
Deliver better patient experiences for better health outcomes
Better care experiences are correlated with better outcomes and higher patient satisfaction rates. When your care team works hard to provide personalized value-based care, you will inevitably enhance the patient experience.
With custom software designed to help healthcare providers, clinicians can focus on offering the best care experience imaginable and improve patient outcomes. From refined communication protocols to comprehensive patient records, PRM platforms make providers’ lives easier and more manageable.
To learn more about implementing personalized care, download our guide to promoting value-based care and improving patient experiences at your healthcare organization.