As the reinvention of healthcare continues, improving the patient experience is an essential step for providers committed to maintaining a competitive edge.
A positive end-to-end consumer experience can produce a cascade of benefits: patient loyalty and retention are strengthened; revenue increases; care continuity and quality are enhanced; and staff morale, both clinical and administrative, is heightened through more-efficient scheduling and better follow-up processes.
The push to streamline and enhance the patient journey is being fueled by the increased sophistication of consumers. Patients are accustomed to convenience, cost transparency, and choice with everything they pay for, so they will change providers if their expectations aren’t met.
What’s more, many people have grown accustomed to using third-party products and service reviews to help them make decisions about everything from restaurants to hospitals. Patients now have access to digital tools that enable them to interact with healthcare organizations, assess provider performance, and share their personal experiences. As a result, hospitals and physicians must deliver a customer experience that not only meets or exceeds expectations but also encourages positive public feedback.
Reimagining the patient journey involves making life easier for patients at every touch point—before, during, and after their visits. At the most basic level, this requires:
- Simple and prompt scheduling with the right provider at the right time
- Efficient registration and pre-authorization, including full disclosure of patient payment obligations
- Short appointment wait times
- Appropriate and timely follow-up communications through the patient’s preferred channel (text, email, or phone)
- Intuitive online customer tools
Effective technology—whether it’s a scheduling platform, a system designed to identify patients in need of care, or an application linking patient and provider preferences—is the foundation for elevating the customer experience.
Yet technology must be augmented by the human touch to truly transform the patient journey. Positive interactions with trained, empathetic staff are essential to creating the goodwill that is at the heart of a great patient experience. Creating the right mix of technology and support staff is the key to producing and sustaining the kind of experience that keeps patients coming back.