The Key Factors That Determine Patient Experience
One of the main influences on someone’s health is whether they feel satisfied with the patient experience while interacting with the healthcare system and their providers.
Individuals are more likely to come back for follow up, adhere to medical advice, and be honest about current health and lifestyle if they feel comfortable and happy with the care they receive throughout the process.
The following are some of the key factors that determine a patient’s experience and how paying attention to them can literally change lives.
Patient Experience Starts Well Before The Patient Arrives For Their Visit
An individual’s impression of their healthcare team and the care they receive starts long before they actually see the doctor. The first contact, whether by phone, online, in person, or text message will set the tone for the patient’s experience and overall satisfaction.
If they are referred to your office by another healthcare professional or call to make an appointment they don’t want to feel like they’re getting the run-around or that their health isn’t a priority.
Patient scheduling, whether it’s their first appointment or their hundredth, sets the tone for their entire experience and makes a difference in their attitude and health.
Providing patients with the most information possible upfront during this first point of contact will be helpful, that way they’ll be prepared and know what to expect during their appointment and entire care experience.
Clear and Realistic Expectations
Ensuring patients have clear and realistic expectations for their appointment and the overall care plan will help them know when and how to prepare for appointments and tests.
For example, a patient who doesn’t know it’s their responsibility to contact you for test results will assume when they don’t hear from you that everything is fine. This can be detrimental to patient care and lead to frustration on the part of patients and staff.
Clearly stating office policy on booking and rescheduling appointments, follow-up and how you’ll deliver test results or other relevant information will help patients have clear and realistic expectations for their care under your medical team.
This can save time and energy by reducing the number of missed appointments, delays due to lack of action on the patient’s part or issues with patients falling through the cracks.
Communication is Key
One of the biggest factors for patient experience is how they feel about any communication or interactions with healthcare professionals and their office staff.
Open lines of communication will ease stress, reduce errors or delays, and help ensure the best course of action in providing healthcare for each individual.
A major issue with communication can revolve around setting and attending appointments. While they may agree to an appointment time on the phone or when leaving their last appointment. That doesn’t mean they’re going to remember to put it in their calendar and actually remember when it is.
An effective strategy for appointment reminders and confirmations will not only help patient’s satisfaction and improve their overall health but will also make things less stressful and frustrating for your staff.
Missed appointments can waste valuable time in the day and lead to delays in proper care. Proper communication about appointments can cut down on patient’s missed appointments and last minute cancellations from patients.
Efficiency and Organization
Efficiency in office operations and scheduling are critical to any healthcare organization running smoothly. Having an efficient and effective way to schedule appointments, book tests, plan follow-up and monitor patient care progress will allow you to provide better care for every patient.
It will also help you save money and time from missed appointments and delays due to miscommunication or misunderstandings. Trying to schedule appointments can become a nightmare when dealing with waiting lists and no-shows, referrals and several healthcare specialists working from different offices and points of view.
A process that will provide each patient’s relevant and important information at your fingertips is essential to providing the best and most effective care possible for every patient.
Active Listening and Active Care
Even if a patient walks away without any more answers than they had when they walked into an appointment, they will be more satisfied if they feel like they were heard and understood.
Patients want to know that the issue they are concerned about is something that you are taking seriously and that you understand their feelings and concerns around it.
You may see the procedure or test they need as something that is run of the mill and nothing to be worried about. Your patient may find the prospect of getting the test terrifying if you don’t convey your confidence in the procedure and address their fears.
Even if you’ve dealt with a thousand patients with the exact same condition, this is personal to this patient. They haven’t dealt with it a thousand times, this is all new and scary and unfamiliar to them.
A healthcare team that doesn’t address the concerns and fears of a patient may find a greater percentage of missed appointments, lack of follow-up and unwillingness to follow care plans.
Don’t Leave Them Hanging
Patients want to feel like they are in the loop and don’t want to be left hanging when it comes to their care. Chances are if you don’t initiate contact and encourage them to come for follow-up appointments and routine check-ups, you probably won’t see the majority of your patients.
Appointments set a week ago are ancient history to most patients as soon as they hang up the phone. And if they call to make an appointment but can’t get through or get no answer, they may hang up in frustration and never call back.
You’ll want to ensure patients feel like your expertise are accessible to them when they need you.
Whether it’s through your website or a telephone answering service or through text message, you can improve the patient experience by just making sure there’s someone to say “how can I help you?” when they need it.
Streamline Their Care Plan
When a patient has to see several healthcare professionals, attend various appointments and go for multiple tests it can be hard for them to keep all the information straight.
They don’t want to have to chase down information that can easily cause delays in their own care because of missed appointments, lack of information and confusion on where they are supposed to be and when.
Streamlining each patient’s care plan will allow you to follow their treatment and care progress from the first contact through to resolution or comfortable maintenance of their condition.
One access point for the patient to be able to verify information and use as their central contact point will help avoid any possibly detrimental delays in care or miscommunications.
Fewer Dangerous Mistakes
This will also help avoid contradictions in care or dangerous medication errors due to multiple care providers.
There are more than 1.3 million known injuries or fatalities due to medication errors in the United States each year. And these are only the ones where that known of. Countless other injuries, illnesses, and deaths are possibly related to medication errors and healthcare miscommunications.
Having patient records, test results, medications, and pertinent information all in one place with oversight from one database administrator or healthcare provider will help identify possible errors or dangerous mistakes.
Patients are less likely to get lost in the shuffle or have issues such as double prescriptions or medications that have possibly life-threatening consequences.
Care is not only more efficient and safer but also more economical. Less time and money is wasted repeating tests and procedures that are unnecessary. Fewer medication and treatment changes are needed due to one integrated care plan.
The patient and the healthcare team are able to make more informed decisions because all the patient’s health records are in one place. They end up having the right appointment types at the right time in their care because everything is together.
The opinions and test results from all professionals involved with the patient’s care are included so there is a collaboration of expert opinions rather than a patient feeling like they are being shuffled from one team to the next.
The process of them seeing individual specialists hasn’t changed just the approach to overall gathering, organization, and streamlining of the patient experience.
Patients feel like they are being cared for with one central point of communication. rather than dealing with four or five disparate healthcare departments or teams.
It can change a patient’s entire experience. From one of feeling uncared for and frustrated to one of feeling like a priority.
You Are The Biggest Factor in Patient Experience
How you treat each individual and whether they feel listened to or valued will depend on you more than anything else.
Your attitude and attention to their concerns will determine their personal patient experience. Request a demo today to learn more about how we can help improve your patient experience through automated waitlist management, actionable reminders, and schedule optimization.