What is Patient Experience?
Generally speaking, the patient experience refers to the overall experience a patient would have when seeking and being treated with medical care. Naturally, when trying to define the patient experience, it will mean something different to each individual care provider, based on their role within the overall healthcare system.
But, when asking “what is the patient experience?” you can look to established organizations who’ve concerned themselves with answering that very question. For instance, the Beryl Institute is an organization committed to constantly improving customer service in healthcare, and they define that patient experience as:
“The sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.”
In essence, the patient experience can be thought of as the totality of a patient’s interaction with their health care system from start to finish.
What is Patient Experience? vs What is Patient Satisfaction?
Quite often, these two terms are used interchangeably, but they mean two distinctly different things.
Patient satisfaction tends to refer to a patient’s expectations during their care experiences and care delivery. If the expectations they had going into receiving their health services are met, then they are likely to have a high degree of patient satisfaction.
Understandably, patient satisfaction is more difficult to meet consistently, because every patient has preferences that are unique to them as individuals, and quite often venture into the territory of bias and personal opinion.
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How Do You Measure Patient Experience?>
One invaluable tool that health care providers often use to measure their patient’s experience is through use of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys.
CAHPS surveys ask patients to give feedback on their experiences across a range of health care services. These services and touchpoints can include rating their experiences with doctors, nursing staff, hospitals, clinics, surgical procedures and ambulatory services, just to name a few.
For every CAHPS survey filled out, health care providers can examine the results with the aim of taking that constructive feedback to facilitate quality improvement and the overall quality of their patient-centered care.
What Makes a Positive Patient Experience?
Here are 8 generally accepted methods of categorically improving the patient experience during a health care encounter:
1. Have a User-Friendly & Informative Website
In today’s modern era, most people research doctors, hospitals and clinics before going, even if they have a referral. That’s why it’s so important for every health service to have an informative and easy-to-use website that contains details about your practice, physician credentials, accepted insurance, frequently asked questions as well as hours and location.
2. Cultivate a Welcoming Atmosphere
Clean, comfortable and inviting. Those are three words that should best describe any health care office.
Patients are often concerned, worried, afraid or in pain, and providing an office with an atmosphere of warm calm can do a lot to improve their experience. Try to aim for creating a pleasing environment filled with positivity, entertainment amenities like magazines and toys for kids.
3. Facilitate Easy Appointment Booking & Clear Communication
Traditionally, phone calls and speaking with receptionists are how most clinics and doctor’s offices used to operate. But, more and more people prefer using online methods to easily book, cancel, and reschedule appointments. So, use online methods to accommodate your patients, and keep phone lines open during lunch hours as well.
4. Follow Up with Confirmations & Reminders
A simple matter, to be sure. Simply provide reminders and confirmation notices with your patients via phone, email or texting options (according to your patient’s preferences) this will help the patient feel taken care of, and reduce no-show appointments.
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5. Reduce Wait Times as Much as Possible
This can be quite hard to do, as wait times are notoriously difficult to manage. But, the vast majority of patients are likely to switch health care providers if wait times are frequently too long.
6. Try to Make a Great First Impression
Every patient has a deep desire to feel like their health is in good hands; that they can trust their health care provider and generally get a good feeling from them. That’s why it’s so important to put aside the day’s frustrations or bad moods when meeting a new patient for the first time. A smile and a friendly handshake can go a long way.
7. Strike a Balance Between Being Personable & Professional
Patients don’t want to be treated like a number, but they also don’t want their health care provider to appear unprofessional. Try to strike that perfect balance and it’s likely to increase your patient’s experience.
8. Encourage Lots of Questions
Your patients likely don’t have much in the way of medical knowledge but might be too shy to ask questions that are important to them and their health. As a health care provider, it’s important to foster a patient-caregiver relationship where they feel safe to ask all the questions they want.
What are the Benefits of Improved Patient Experience?
Aside from clinical outcomes, focusing on the patient experience should be the very next matter of importance for any professional health care provider.
Ensuring an overwhelmingly positive patient experience has proven to have enormous benefits to a patient’s well being and outlook. It’s proven to provide them with reduced fear, anguish and confusion. Furthermore, organizations with a great focus on patient experience in healthcare tend to have better safety records, technical quality and staff engagement.
Making a Difference with the Normative Solution
Here at Normative, we understand the importance of a customer-first approach. Especially when it comes to healthcare products.
If you’re interested in seeing your healthcare business succeed, talk to us today for a free consultation.