6 factors healthcare leaders should consider to meet patient needs and transform the care experience

Stephanie Shufelt, MBA

Founder of HealthcareTransformers.com

6 factors healthcare leaders should consider to meet patient needs and transform the care experience

4 November 2020

Quick Takes

  • The importance of the “customer experience” is no longer limited to certain industries

  • The healthcare industry is focusing on the “patient experience” to improve the care journey and help ensure high quality care is provided

  • Several factors are top of mind for healthcare leaders wanting to transform care by delivering a patient experience that will meet the expectations of today’s patients, including the ease of access to patient data

The “customer experience” is no longer limited to certain industries. With patients expecting a more seamless and convenient experience than ever before, the healthcare industry is embracing the “patient experience”. 

The patient experience encompasses all interactions that patients have within the healthcare system, so healthcare providers need to become more and more focused on understanding the patient journey so they can provide the highest quality care possible. 

According to the World Population Review,1 there are several factors that contribute to the level of healthcare quality in each country. Here is what is top of mind for healthcare leaders when it comes to patient experience.

1. Ease of access to patient data experience.

In a perfect world, healthcare organizations would easily gain access to one centralized database that could pull pertinent patient data digitally without having to rely on archaic paper filing systems or going to a multitude of systems. 

Operating under antiquated systems can lead to inefficiencies, errors, and a poor patient and staff experience. Implementing technology that provides a 360° view of the patient enables caregivers to be more productive, efficient, and less likely to make mistakes or overlook an important component towards driving better health outcomes.2

When deciding what technology to use, leaders need to ensure that the technology supports their needs and wants rather than them fitting to the technology.

2. The patient’s digital experience 

Having a strong digital presence that makes it easy for patients to find a doctor or schedule an appointment online sets the tone for the entire patient experience. 

Considering 65% of customers say their website experience is a very important factor to recommending a brand to others, it is very important for leaders to leverage insights from website and app experiences as a means to drive patient experience results.3 

3. Administrative efficiency

As healthcare moves forward to offer value-based care to patients, hospitals and healthcare systems remain focused on improving the quality of care while reducing costs.

Administrative costs generally make up a large part of the budget. For example, in the United States, administrative costs make up about 34% of total health care expenditure—twice the percentage Canada spends, according to a new study published earlier this year in Annals of Internal Medicine.4

In an interview with David Betts, principal and leader for Customer and Digital Transformation for Health Care at Deloitte Consulting, he speaks to 5 main characteristics that patients are looking for in their healthcare interactions: One is simplicity.5

Patients want their experience to be seamless and efficient. It does not matter to them how a hospital or physician practice is organized internally or that their information needs to be handed off between departments, units, or processes.

Healthcare leaders need to look at ways to improve operational efficiency that are patient-centric while keeping costs low.

4. Building in the human connection

This is not a new concept. At the sixth annual Patient Experience Summit, Christy Dempsey, chief nursing officer at Press Ganey said: patients expect to be treated like people, not identified by their illness or injury and to remember that patients are scared and need compassion. Patients want a personal interaction and not a medical interaction.6 

Tim Engberg, former vice president of Stanford Health Care’s Ambulatory Care, echoed this concept back in 2014 as he shared his story of being a patient himself, and the importance of a simple smile and look in the eye to make him feel like he was not alone.7 It doesn’t take long to form a human connection and it means the world to the patient and their experience. 

Deloitte research shows a direct correlation between patient experience and higher hospital profitability. Nurse-Patient engagement was noted as being strongly associated with a good patient experience and contributed to strengthening customer loyalty, building reputation and brand, and boosting utilization of hospital services through increased referrals to family and friends. 

This was further validated by an analysis conducted by Deloitte Center for Health Solution on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores.8

5. Recognizing the importance of work culture

As health systems place increased importance on improving the patient experience, so too is there a focus on improving and investing in organizational culture and driving employee engagement. 

The goals of patient-centeredness, workplace efficiency, and world-class quality often battle against clinician burnout, lack of resources, political discord, and employee apathy.  

Dr. Sasha Shillcut speaks up about battling burnout in healthcare and what leaders can do to recognize and prevent burnout, which would have a positive impact on the patient experience.

To achieve financial, clinical, and community success, health systems need to invest in and engage the workforce. It is not enough to provide the tools necessary to enable the best care delivery, but also to have a culture of inclusion, safety, and quality. 

6. The impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted healthcare tremendously, which in most cases has led to a more patient-centered approach and rethinking of processes.

Limiting interactions within the healthcare system is now a common goal between patients and providers, which has resulted in an increase in telehealth options, streamlined healthcare and consumerization of healthcare, according to Forbes. 

Patients are realizing the convenience of logging in for a virtual appointment from home. Considering the commute and waiting time required for an average doctor visit, virtual consultations can save patients more than 100 minutes.9

Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City was already embarking on a digital transformation, but COVID-19 led the clinic to create a more patient-friendly experience, such as making forms simpler, moving from paper forms to electronic versions, and allowing patients to check in virtually before coming to the office.10

Bridging technology and humanity to better patient experience

Patient Experience is a key success driver of healthcare systems. With evolving patient expectations and the disruption to health services due to COVID-19, technology and digitization have been enablers of change.

But, tools are not enough. Humanity in healthcare is needed to help engage employees, shape work culture and to envision the patient as the “why?” for each step towards change. These factors together, will help to provide the highest quality of care while reducing costs and inefficiencies as much as possible.

Stephanie Shufelt, MBA is one of the editors and founders of HealthcareTransformers.com. She is dedicated to delivering high quality content on the topic of the future of healthcare to our readers.

References

  1. World Population Review (2020. Article available on https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/best-healthcare-in-the-world [Accessed October 2020]
  2. Scott O’Connell (2020). Article available on https://hub.appirio.com/cloud-powered-blog/improving-the-patient-experience-5-challenges-facing-healthcare-today [Accessed October 2020]
  3. Qualtrics XM (no date). Article available on https://www.qualtrics.com/uk/experience-management/customer/digital-cx/?rid=ip&prevsite=en&newsite=uk&geo=ES&geomatch=uk (Accessed October 22, 2020)
  4. Himmelstein, MD et al (2020). Article available on https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/M19-2818 [Accessed October 22, 2020]
  5. David Betts (2020). Article available on https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/life-sciences-and-health-care/articles/elevating-health-care-consumer-experience.html [Accessed October 2020)
  6. Neil Versel (2015). Article available on https://medcitynews.com/2015/05/patient-experience-summit-compassion-empathy-matter-in-nursing/ [Accessed October 2020]
  7. Liat Kobza (2014). Article available on https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2014/09/26/the-importance-of-human-connection-as-part-of-the-patient-experience/ [Accessed October 2020]
  8. David Betts (2020). Article available on https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/life-sciences-and-health-care/articles/hospitals-patient-experience.html# [Accessed October 2020]
  9. Blake Morgan (2020). Article available on https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/10/01/post-covid-19-patient-experience-3-ways-healthcare-has-changed/#5cb2462db59f  [Accessed October 2020]
  10. Crain’s Content Studio (2020). Article available on https://www.crainsnewyork.com/crains-content-studio/how-covid-19-has-changed-health-care-weill-cornell-medicine [Accessed October 2020]