Enhancing Patient Loyalty and Profitability through a Connected Care Journey
In 2023, patients are arguably more empowered than ever before—and with higher expectations. And yet, a large gap remains between patient expectations for care and the reality of their experience before, during, and after a hospital stay.
A staggering 96% of patient complaints are related to customer service rather than the quality of care, and 81% of customers report being unsatisfied with their healthcare experiences. The importance of patient experience goes beyond just the satisfaction scores; it directly impacts health outcomes, patient loyalty, total cost of care, and ultimately, hospital profitability.
Understanding the Impact of Patient Experience
The modern patient expects a seamless, connected care journey that spans from admission, through hospitalization, and extends to post-discharge support. By meeting these expectations, healthcare providers can significantly enhance patient satisfaction, loyalty, and hospital profitability.
In 2017, researchers analyzed nearly 20,000 patient stays from 3,767 hospitals over a six-year period. Using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, researchers looked at the connection between patient experience and three variables: net patient revenue, net income, and operating margin.
They found that a more positive patient experience is associated with increased hospital profitability—and even more sobering, a more negative experience is even more strongly associated with decreased profitability.
The Connection Between Patient Experience and Health Outcomes
- Effective Communication and Patient-Centered Care
Effective communication and patient-centered care play a crucial role in enhancing the patient experience and health outcomes. When healthcare providers prioritize clear communication, they foster an environment where patients feel heard and understood. This, in turn, leads to better patient engagement, informed decision-making, and increased satisfaction.
- Adherence to Treatment Plans
Patient satisfaction is closely linked to adherence to treatment plans. When patients have a positive experience with their healthcare providers, they are more likely to trust the care they receive and follow through with their prescribed treatment regimen. This increased adherence to treatment plans leads to better health outcomes and can even reduce the overall cost of care for hospitals.
- Reduced Readmission Rates
An improved patient experience can have a direct impact on reducing readmission rates. By focusing on patient satisfaction and providing a more connected care journey, healthcare providers can identify potential issues early, address concerns, and ensure that patients receive the necessary support during their recovery.A study published in the Journal of Patient Experience in 2020 found that higher patient satisfaction with the discharge process correlated with fewer readmissions at 90 days post-discharge. Furthermore, higher patient satisfaction with hospital staff management of personal issues correlated with fewer emergency department visits at six months post-discharge.
Enhancing the Patient Journey: A Connected Approach
Patient loyalty is a critical factor in driving hospital success, and meeting patient expectations is at the heart of cultivating that loyalty. When patients have a positive experience, they are not only more likely to return to the same healthcare provider but also to share their positive experiences with others. To enhance patient loyalty, healthcare providers should focus on strategies such as delivering personalized care, addressing individual needs, and maintaining consistent follow-up post-discharge.
ED-Initiated Follow-up Care
Emergency department clinicians can play a crucial role in initiating care and supporting patients during the post-discharge period. By integrating patient navigators and virtual health clinicians as part of an extended, hybrid ED care team, hospitals can achieve response rates as high as 90% among those patients targeted for real-time intervention outreach. This proactive approach to patient care can help connect patients with primary care physicians, specialists, and telemedicine services, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.
Embracing multi-channel communication technology can help create a comprehensive care experience by connecting patients with evidence-based best practices, programs, and resources tailored to their risk levels or needs. A study published in BMC Health Services Research in 2021 demonstrated that patients prefer different methods of communication with their healthcare providers post-hospital discharge, depending on their concerns and the severity of their symptoms. By utilizing a combination of live phone calls, interactive voice response (IVR), text, video, and remote monitoring, hospitals can support communication and care coordination for discharged patients.
Such technology platforms can also generate real-time actionable data from patient communications to close the loop on clinical and service opportunities, supporting hospital priorities related to outcomes, quality, patient loyalty and satisfaction, and compliance with value-based care programs.
Hybrid Care: Integrating Emergency, Hospital, and Virtual Medicine
Hybrid care combines emergency, hospital, and virtual medicine expertise to connect patients with evidence-based best practices, programs, and resources tailored to their needs. This comprehensive care model provides decision support for patients, helping them navigate the healthcare system and determine where to seek appropriate care. Hybrid care also facilitates post-acute follow-up, care plan oversight, and bridges gaps in timely access to care, ensuring a seamless transition from one stage of treatment to another.
Efficient Care Connection: Aligning Patient Risk with Communication and Action
An efficient care connection strategy focuses on logic-driven communication that aligns patient risk with their preferred communication method and the appropriate next-best action. By tailoring the frequency and technique of communication to each patient’s risk level, healthcare providers can optimize the use of clinical resources, expand their reach and impact, and ensure compliance while reducing redundancy.
This approach allows providers to quickly act on feedback and respond to patient needs, fostering a stronger connection between patients and their healthcare teams, ultimately leading to improved patient satisfaction and loyalty
In an ever-changing healthcare landscape, it is vital for hospitals to focus on enhancing the patient journey by adopting a more connected approach to care. Focusing on patient satisfaction, loyalty, and outcomes can lead to increased hospital profitability. Investing in ED-initiated follow-up care and multi-channel technology can help provide personalized support for patients throughout their care journey, leading to improved health outcomes and a more seamless experience.