Patient experience continues to be a high priority for health care organizations. According to The Beryl Institute, 96 percent of health care consumers consider it important or very important.
While hospitals and health systems have focused on creating positive patient experiences for years, two forces drive current initiatives: the effect of consumerism and the shift to value-based reimbursement.
Improved experience affects patient loyalty and impacts patient outcomes. When patients form positive relationships with clinicians, staff, and the hospital, they become more actively engaged in their care, resulting in fewer readmissions.
A positive patient experience also benefits the hospital. Happier patients can mean happier employees, leading to decreased turnover. Also, as expressed in HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores, better care quality can enhance organizational revenue.
Research from Accenture found that superior patient experience strengthens patient engagement and leads to 50 percent higher hospital margins.
“Today’s patients shop for healthcare services, and, like all consumers, they want and will seek out the best possible overall experience when receiving care,” Accenture said.
A hospital’s reputation is also at stake as it weighs heavily into a prospective patient’s selection process. Hospitals that provide better patient experience have improved standings.
Unfortunately, patient survey results tell a different story:
- 81 percent of customers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience;
- 95 percent of patient complaints were about customer service, not care quality;
- 82 percent of patients said hospitals and health care systems should consistently meet or exceed their expectations.
Poor patient experience comes with a few less-than-ideal consequences:
- For every patient who complains, another 20 do not but are unhappy, resulting in missed opportunities;
- 70 percent of patients who receive substandard care will not return to the facility;
- 75 percent of dissatisfied health care consumers will talk about it and tell nine family members or friends.
No matter what patient experience programs you have in place, there are always a few constants that are essential to improving patient experience. Education and training, patient experience champions, and feedback are three of the most critical.
Patient Experience Education and Training
Health care organizations should develop and implement specific training focused on patient experience. That includes educating professionals on the correlation between patient and clinician satisfaction — taking care of clinicians is part of taking care of patients, after all — and providing learning opportunities related to empathy and compassion. What you say is one thing; how you say it is another. And simply taking the time to stop and listen can make a measurable difference in patient experience and loyalty.
Education also acknowledges that all patients are different when it comes to following instructions and taking ownership of their health. Comprehensive education must include strategies to meet the needs of every type of patient.
Increasing awareness of inherent bias on the part of patients and clinicians and offering tips to mitigate their influence on clinical practice must also comprise part of the patient experience training curriculum.
Patient Experience Champions
Every organization needs one or more patient experience champions at their location. Champions are passionate people who embrace the concept of improving patient experience. They are positive, motivated individuals who encourage and mentor others on the team.
They could be employees, clinicians, or volunteers who continually demonstrate patient experience excellence.
Find champions by identifying people who want to improve, make a difference, and are ready to learn.
Patient Experience Feedback
Most health care professionals strive to do their best and appreciate it when they receive help to improve. So, don’t hesitate to offer patient experience feedback.
Constructive feedback is a necessary skill set to help people change. Failure to provide essential feedback can result in adverse outcomes. The person can assume everything is okay and continue practicing in the same way.
However, people are often hesitant to give feedback on soft skills. This proven feedback formula can make it easier: Describe the situation, explain the behavior, and highlight its impact.
In addition to feedback, validate and recognize outstanding performance. People will only know they’re doing better if you tell them. Find ways to identify, confirm, and reward performance that goes above and beyond. Also, include all those making a positive effort to whatever degree.
Health care organizations cannot overlook the vital need to offer positive patient experience. Creating education programs, finding champions, and providing feedback are essential to improving its standard.
SCP Health understands how hard hospital executives and clinicians work to provide first-rate patient experience through increased patient engagement.
Through a variety of patient engagement initiatives and care coordination, we help hospitals and health systems improve patient experience and loyalty, grow volume and revenue, maximize present resources, and advance treatment quality.
Contact us to learn more about our patient engagement solutions. A member of our staff will respond to answer any questions and determine whether we are a good fit for your needs.