Healthcare industry traditionally has been around providing patient outcomes at optimized efficiencies. However, it is also one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries and brings with it all the challenges that a fast growing market brings.
- Rising costs and increased efficiency pressure: Macroeconomic factors like aging populations or insufficient funding are challenging both receivers and providers of healthcare. Increasing costs of medical advances push the margins ever lower. Hence the need to understand the patient interactions that impact their perception of the experience is vital and enables strategic decisions on where to invest
- Growing Customer Expectations: Healthcare systems are under close scrutiny by society. With patients having a bigger say in what they choose and demand for, government policy is impacted and in turn, healthcare providers. Healthcare needs to become demand-driven to satisfy the needs of citizens and governments. Patients increasingly want to decide how and when to engage with their healthcare environment.
- Increased regulations and access to information: Governments, health authorities and the medical profession will be challenged to provide patients with the information and services that will allow citizens to make informed choices about their healthcare. This will mean publishing data on indicators of quality (such as outcome data, readmission rates, so on)
- Changing Patient Journeys: Changing patient demographics, varied methods of delivery, digitization – changing technology and demand driven services mean that the patient journeys are continuously changing and a pulse on how this change is perceived by the patients is crucial to predict what the future demands and needs will be.
Why Patient Experience?
To summarize it – Better care and containing costs, Increased regulation but decreased spending… How does one do it? Patient experience holds the opportunities to these myriad conflicting challenges. Here are some of the benefits a well-designed patient experience program provides:
- Reinforce positive experiences: Many physicians wrongly fear that improving patient experience means catering to patients’ every whim. Rather, it’s about understanding what’s most important to patients—communication, service, access—and focusing on those things into your group’s service offerings there by investing and gaining efficiencies in the areas that matter the most
- Patients with better care experiences often have better health outcomes. For example, studies of patients hospitalized for heart attack showed that patients with more positive reports about their experiences with care had better health outcomes a year after discharge1
- Good patient experience is associated with lower medical malpractice risk: A study found that for each drop in patient-reported scores along a five-step scale of “very good” to “very poor,” the likelihood of a provider being named in a malpractice suit increased by 21.7%2.
- Reduced staff turnover: Efforts to improve patient experience also results in greater employee satisfaction thus reducing turnover. Improving the experience of patients and families requires improving work processes and systems that enable clinicians and staff to provide more effective care.
- Patients keep or change providers based upon experience. Relationship quality is a major predictor of patient loyalty; one study found patients reporting the poorest-quality relationships with their physicians were three times more likely to voluntarily leave the physician’s practice than patients with the highest-quality relationships3.
So, although patient experience initially comes in with a price tag, the increase in revenue and the associated benefits far outweighs the investment in the long run and well worth the journey for your organization to embark on.
- Fremont AM, Clearly PD, Hargraves JL, et al. Patient-centered processes of care and long-term outcomes of acute myocardial infarction. J Gen Intern Med2001;14:800-8.
- Fullam F, Garman AN, Johnson TJ, et al. The use of patient satisfaction surveys and alternate coding procedures to predict malpractice risk. Med Care 2009 May;47(5):1-7.
- Safran DG, Montgomery JE, Chang H, et al. Switching doctors: Predictors of voluntary disenrollment from a primary physician’s practice. J Fam Pract 2001;50(2):130-6.