Imagine you wake up one day with significant back pain and aren't sure who to call, so you google “local care facilities.” One hospital's website features a comprehensive referral line. Among other services, it can help you locate a provider best suited to treat your condition.
When you call, a patient care coordinator suggests a few local providers and clinics that may be good for you and connects you to the provider of your choice to make an appointment. On the day before your visit, you receive a reminder call from another care coordinator who ensures you are prepared and can arrive at the scheduled time.
A few days after the clinic visit, you feel better and decide to go for a run. Unfortunately, your back pain flares up again, very intensely this time, so you call the same number to describe your symptoms and ask for advice.
The patient care coordinator, a licensed nurse, performs clinical triage to fully understand your symptoms and determine the necessary steps to take, then directs you to the right care provider—in this case, the emergency department (ED).
You go to the ED and are attended to quickly. Once the staff diagnoses and treats your condition, you are sent home with post-discharge instructions and a prescription to pick up a medication from the pharmacy.
Within a few hours of leaving the ED, you receive a call from another care coordinator to review your instructions, ensure you have your prescription, know how to use it, and provide answers to any questions you or your loved ones have about your condition.
Patient Experience Excellence and the Care Continuum
Having those key patient experience touchpoints in place along the care continuum can make a huge difference in whether your hospital or health system gains a patient's loyalty and ensures they return or seek out a different solution the next time.
The consequences are not unlike when a restaurant's customer has a bad meal and chooses a different venue—loss of revenue and, worse, trust. But in our case, the stakes are much higher—the health and wellbeing of our community.
By helping patients find and plan their care more effectively, your hospital can improve patient outcomes, empower patients and families to make informed healthcare decisions, and optimize patient experience across the entire care continuum.
Just how important is that? In an economic climate driven by a value-based, consumerist healthcare market—very. These statistics bear witness:
- 81 percent of customers are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience;
- 95 percent of patient complaints were related to customer service, not quality of care;
- 82 percent of patients said hospitals and healthcare systems should consistently meet or exceed their expectations.
An Accenture whitepaper, Patient Engagement: Why Happy Patients Mean Healthy Margins, stresses the need to offer patient experience excellence:
"A superior customer experience doesn't just strengthen patient engagement—it also correlates 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."
Patient Experience Moments of Truth
Though it's always important to focus on patient experience, there are certain moments in a patient's care journey where they will be particularly attuned to the service they receive. In these moments, your hospital must go beyond just meeting expectations to exceeding them.
Emergency Department Visit
One such moment of truth occurs during a visit to the ED. While a patient’s needs are met when they receive the necessary treatment, getting a follow-up call the next day to check-in exceeds their expectations.
Admissions & Transfers
Performing an admission or transfer smoothly and quickly is expected. To exceed expectations, make sure the transition of care to the inpatient provider team is also seamless.
Discharge is a crucial patient experience moment of truth. It's one thing to give the patient clear instructions at discharge and materials to reinforce the instructions once they return home. It's quite another to manage the discharge through a care coordination center that provides patient navigation and communicates and supports the patient's needs after returning home.
SCP Health Patient Engagement Solutions
The American healthcare system's extreme complexity makes it increasingly difficult for patients to navigate to the right place, receive treatment at a reasonable cost, and correctly follow post-discharge directions.
Those are the very reasons why, over the years, SCP Health has evolved from just supporting care within the hospital walls to an organization that supports the entire care continuum through our Patient Engagement Solutions and other innovative services.
Hospitals and systems can now take advantage of three different patient engagement resources:
Patient Access Solutions
We offer a 24/7, centralized point of access where patients can engage with the healthcare system through a provider locator referral line. The service helps patients find a provider or clinic, facilitates appointment scheduling, and conducts patient engagement campaigns focused on connecting patients with customized health reminders.
Patient Clinical Support Solutions
Our clinical and non-clinical care coordinators are available to support patients along their healthcare journey. Services include:
- A health information line that answers general health questions and provides triage to guide patients to the right care;
- Post-discharge care coordination designed to move patients smoothly along the care journey after a hospital stay or ED visit;
- Customized clinical support programs provide call services tailored to a hospital's or health system's current situation and needs.
Employer Engagement Program
We engage with local employers and their employees on behalf of their area’s hospitals and systems. We also partner to manage the hospital's services, augment the hospital's brand in the community, outsource back-office administration, and more.
Each of these three solutions is designed with three primary goals in mind: improve patient satisfaction and loyalty, increase revenue and reduce cost, and ensure the health and wellbeing of the community.
In an SCP Health resource, How to Reach Beyond the Four Walls of the Hospital (PDF), Marsha Masten, RN, BSN, SCP Health's Vice President of Program Management, Patient Engagement, expressed why hospitals should pursue patient experience excellence:
"If we want patients to trust us, come back to us, recommend us to their friends, share their positive experiences at our facility with their family, and rely on us as a long-term partner in sickness and in health, then we have to be where they are and be there for them. If we don't, patients in our community will suffer—and we'll be spending time helping people in the short-term, only to watch it all fall apart once they leave our facility."
SCP Health knows how hard hospital leaders and clinicians work to engage their communities in affordable, accessible patient care experiences. Our goal is not to supplant those efforts but augment the organization's existing initiatives and then find and fill any remaining gaps to ensure we achieve clinical excellence along the care continuum.
If you are interested in discussing our patient engagement solutions for your hospital or health system, please contact us. One of our representatives will be in touch soon to answer any questions and see if we are a good fit for your needs.