As healthcare providers, it is crucial to keep in mind the needs of our patients. Even if this might sound obvious, every experience they have when interacting with our practice space, staff, and our services must be considered carefully. Ensuring a positive patient experience is the key to converting them into faithful clients, thus returning and staying.
Memorable patient experience is at the core of delivering quality service and compassionate care, and should never be seen merely as an addition to it or a choice, but as a necessary implementation that places significant responsibility on the shoulders of those who provide direct patient care. This is why, every day, more and more healthcare professionals and organizations are focused on creating experiences that lead to improve customer service scores and positive reputations. Some of the highly effective strategies for improving patient satisfaction scores revolve around creating an environment in which patients have a positive overall experience with all members of their medical team and all the details of their treatment.
So, what should be understood as “patient care”?
Generally, the concept of “patient experience” is associated with the patient's overall perception during the receiving of care, and how the combination of your physical environment, staff, and delivery of your services and knowledge made them feel. A positive/negative experience begins even before an appointment occurs, and will definitely assure better health outcomes and commitment to treatment.
As a medical professional, you must aim to provide equal clinical excellence and a safe environment for the patient, their families, and carers, based on the four core concepts of patient care: dignity and respect, information sharing, participation, and collaboration.
Can patient experience be measured?
Patient experience is a key indicator of quality, along with clinical effectiveness and patient safety. A patient with a positive experience is more likely to be settled, more comfortable, and less anxious during their treatment, which helps them to engage with their health and to improve patient experience quality outcomes. As with any important data, patient experience should be one of the most important metrics in the success of your healthcare practice, and even procedures or treatments.
Metrics that could help you measure the patient experience you are delivering, include:
Patients' health coverage: Do you give your patient options to pay for treatment?
Quality of the encounters with doctors, nurses, and staff from your practice
Track of previous visits.
Getting timely appointments.
Access to health information in a timely and clear manner.
A good relationship with your patients as a healthcare provider.
Using technologies to make patient access to health easier: Offering a patient portal to request medication refills or using e-prescribing.
The length of waiting times and the environment in waiting areas.
In addition, there are other 4 critical topics for a better understanding of your patient’s experience in your practice: patient personal interactions, the organization's culture, patient and family perceptions, and continuum care.
Even more into depth, here are other key factors tied to a satisfactory patient experience would be:
Feeling understood: how their personal story was taken-in, and how you as their healthcare provider responded.
2. Convenience: being able to communicate, schedule appointments and manage records online, timely, accurately, and easily. Give patients access to their medical records and direct communication with professionals. Coordinate patient care with other providers if this means better health outcomes for the patient.
3. Integrative health services: help patients feel better both mentally and physically.
4. The clinical atmosphere: allows the patient to de-stress during their waiting, when in a calmer state, it helps them to be more receptive to receiving medical information and instructions.
5. Waiting times: regular lack of punctuality communicates disrespect and ambivalence.
6. Transparency: sometimes providers are limited to what they can and can’t say. But even being honest about that with each patient, and acknowledging how frustrating it is can go a long way to establish trust.
7. Relational follow-through: listen to your patients, and make sure to make eye contact, this demonstrates your dedication to the patient. Saying a patient’s
name also helps individualize and personalize patient experience, as does asking questions like, “What matters to you?” “Do you have any doubts or concerns?”
Engage patients in their care plan. Educate them about their condition and treatment choices, empower them to partner with you, and help them manage their medications.
8. Kindness: Even the mood and voice tone people hear when they call the medical secretary to set an appointment makes a big difference. Provide emotional support, patient care also entails a bit of psychology. Show them respect and involve patients' family members and friends.
But how do you measure if you are truly creating a positive patient experience?
One of the most common ways is surveys, other methods can include conducting focus groups and interviews.
Likewise, CAHPS surveys are tools for organizations interested in assessing the patient-centeredness of the care they deliver and identifying areas for improvement. They ask patients to report on the aspects of their experiences that are important to them and generate standardized and validated measures of patient experience that providers and consumers can rely on, being the first national standard for patient satisfaction measurement.
Patient satisfaction is about the patient's expectations for care, and although this concept varies a bit from the customer experience, measuring Patient Satisfaction tells you what areas of improvement you need to focus on to provide better patient care services. High levels of satisfaction depend directly on the high-quality patient care services provided and these are directly linked to the patient's experience.
Patient experience is good for business
Cultivating positive experiences makes sense for patients and healthcare professionals, because:
Patients are more likely to select a practice where they had a positive experience.
Hospitals with better patient experience ratings tend to have higher profit margins than average hospitals.
Patients consult online provider reviews websites before booking an appointment.
Good patient experience is associated with lower medical malpractice risk.
Positive experiences contribute to increase patient retention. Happy patients are three times more likely to remain in your practice.
New venues of care bring new opportunities and challenges for the patient/consumer experience.
Taking the patient experience to the next level is one of the main goals for those medical professionals and organizations that want to improve their practices, but also for those who want their patients to return, and most importantly, stay.
At NAD Pinwheel we point to new hygienic, sustainable, practical, and effective neurological testing, and we hope these tips can help you build long term relationships and create memorable experiences in all areas of your practice.
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