Over the next decade, the healthcare industry is expected to grow exponentially. The aging population in the country means that more people are entering retirement age, increasing the number of people who have complicated healthcare needs.
The growing healthcare industry is good news for the labor force because it opens more opportunities. But for business owners, this means that the competition is becoming even tougher as the market becomes saturated.
Healthcare companies are investing in, other than providing quality patient care, other business aspects to stay ahead of the curve. Some have launched powerful healthcare marketing campaigns to raise awareness about their practice. Others focus on creating a seamless, positive patient experience, increasing the person’s satisfaction with their services.
What is Patient Experience?
Patient experience consists of all the touchpoints a person encounters when acquiring a medical service. From researching a hospital online and scheduling an appointment, to going in for a check-up and waiting for the test results – all these are part of the patient experience.
All these micro-moments in the patient experience should be designed to form one seamless encounter between the individual and the healthcare provider. The goal is to create an experience as comfortable and easy as possible – two factors that are especially critical for patients who may be in pain.
But for many patients, the bad experience arises in steps before or after the necessary treatment. Long waiting times, faulty online booking platforms, and complicated billing processes are common for many hospitals. Even if you provide high-quality patient care, these negative micro-experiences negatively impact their perception of your overall service.
On the flipside, a positive patient experience increases their satisfaction with your practice. This helps increase patient retention and improve your reputation within the community, potentially improving your revenues.
How can you improve your patient experience?
- Reduce waiting time
Many hospitals struggle with minimizing their wait times. Patients find this frustrating, especially if they’re busy or are not feeling well but choose to go to their appointment.
Research shows that there’s a strong correlation between how long a patient had to wait and their rating of a healthcare facility. Thirty percent admit to having left the clinic or hospital because of the wait time. And 20 percent would consider going to another provider instead of waiting.
Reduce your wait time by using healthcare software. Online patient portal vendors help you make necessary paperwork, such as insurance and new patient forms, more readily available through digital platforms. This allows patients to accomplish the required documents before their appointment, minimizing delays on their scheduled date.
You can also implement a mobile queue solution. This way, patients can do other errands, relax at a nearby café, or grab lunch while waiting for their turn. Some healthcare mobile apps also have a messaging function. Patients can notify the clinic if they’re going to miss their appointment, helping you manage patient flow.
Another way to reduce patient wait time is by offering remote healthcare services. Telehealth allows patients to receive the clinical services they need from the comfort of their homes. It also gives physicians and patients more flexibility in setting appointments, so the latter won’t have to wait.
- Offer remote healthcare services
Apart from minimizing wait times, remote healthcare services are extremely beneficial for patients with limited mobility or those who don’t have chaperones. Older adults and people with disabilities find it difficult to travel to the clinic or hospital for their regular check-ups even if they live nearby.
Patients can receive medical diagnoses and schedule consultations using their computers and smartphones. Telehealth can also make check-ups more frequent since it’s easier for the patient and the physician to find a common time. This helps doctors assess symptoms and health issues with more accuracy, treating the patient’s condition more quickly.
Other than telemedicine, remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices also improve the patient experience. These lightweight, wearable devices allow hospitals and clinics to keep track of their patients, identifying potential health problems and intervening before they become emergencies. Thus, RPM reduces readmissions and emergency department visits.
- Create a helpful online presence
Consumers follow a specific journey when it comes to retail purchases. They do online research, compare products and services from different brands, then read reviews from other customers before making a purchase. And they do these steps for healthcare services as well.
According to the Customer Experience Trends in Healthcare 2018 study of Doctor.com, 81 percent of patients conduct online research on healthcare providers referred to them. And 90 percent of these people are likely to choose a different provider if they don’t like what they see online.
In the past, being easily searchable online gives healthcare facilities an edge. But now that people have grown more reliant on the internet for their healthcare concerns, a strong online presence has become a necessity.
Strengthen your online presence by optimizing your website and content according to the patients’ needs. Publish relevant, timely blogs related to your field and list your practice in online business directories.
Put relevant business information on all of your online platforms. This includes your clinic addresses and directions, operating hours, photos of your clinics, and services and treatments your offer. These details make it easier for patients to plan and schedule their appointments.
Evaluating the multiple touchpoints where patients encounter your healthcare firm is the first step to establishing a great patient experience. The goal is to make sure all the aspects of your healthcare delivery are oriented toward the need of your patients. By looking at the various aspects of patient experience, you’ll see the extent of the care you provide and determine if it’s enough to address your patients’ every need and concern as they journey toward better health.