The healthcare industry is increasingly seeing a shift toward consumerism. Patients are starting to treat their healthcare like the other aspects of their lives, comparing multiple providers to determine the best option based a number of factors. In fact, a recent Patientpop survey found that 75 percent of patients conduct online research when choosing a provider. While cost and convenience factor into this decision, patient experience is one of the biggest determinants. After all, if consumers choose to buy goods and services based on their previous experiences or the experiences of others, it only makes sense they will do the same in regards to their healthcare. Improving patient experience is a must for healthcare providers wishing to stay competitive in today’s market.
We’ve already discussed the benefits of creating an exceptional patient experience, but that’s easier said than done. So how can you improve patient experience and realize these benefits? Let’s look at four real-world techniques healthcare providers have used to achieve this goal.
Respond to Online Reviews – Especially the Bad Ones
One of the most important duties of a healthcare provider is listening to his or her patients and giving them the attention they need. But this role isn’t limited to the care visit. In the aforementioned Patientpop survey, 65 percent of respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 said they check online reviews. More importantly, 40 percent of respondents share their experience online. A great way to show you care about what your patients have to say is by responding to online reviews, especially negative reviews. Responding to favorable reviews is an easy way to engage with your patients, but if you don’t acknowledge the unfavorable reviews, you risk not only the relationship with the patient who had a negative experience, but also any potential patients who see that you ignored the negative review.
But ignoring negative reviews doesn’t just compound the negative feelings that patient has about you and your organization. You also miss out on an opportunity to rectify the situation, salvage the relationship with that patient, and make a good impression on potential patients researching providers. Patientpop’s survey found that the rate of dissatisfaction can drop as much as 59 percent when providers address negative online reviews. But perhaps more importantly, patient satisfaction doubles when a patient receives feedback after posting a negative review. So not only can you minimize patient dissatisfaction by responding to reviews, you can actually turn a negative into a positive!
Offer “Survival Kits” for the Waiting Room
Another way to improve patient experience is to improve the waiting room experience. When patients go for a medical visit, they are likely already anxious. This anxiety can grow as they wait for their name to be called, leading to an unpleasant experience. In this Becker’s Hospital Review article, Alabama-based Brookwood Baptist Hospital Cancer Center talks about an innovative solution they found for improving the waiting room experience.
To combat the anxiety and boredom of the waiting room, Brookwood Baptist gives patients “survival kits” containing snacks and water to keep them refreshed and crossword puzzles and cancer survivor stories to keep them busy. In addition to helping patients pass the time, these fun survival kits can also help take their minds off their medical issues and help them relax. Plus, survival kits are budget-friendly. So consider what you can include in your own practice’s survival kits to help ease your patients’ anxiety and provide a patient experience they’ll be happy to tell their friends and families about.
Use a “Fast Pass” System for High-Priority Patients
Fast passes aren’t just for amusement parks. Becker’s Hospital Review recently conducted a Q&A with California-based Lakewood Regional Medical Center’s interim ER director/disaster coordinator Patty Stierle, RN. Stierle discusses the hospital’s own “fast pass” program that ensures patients who have been treated at a nearby urgent care facility are quickly admitted to Lakewood’s ER to receive the treatment they need. Patients who are determined to need additional care by the urgent care physician receive a red fast pass card and are transported by ambulance or private car from the urgent care facility to Lakewood. By the time the patient arrives at Lakewood, the hospital’s ER staff has been notified of the patient’s situation by the referring physician and work to quickly transfer them to the ER once presented with the fast pass.
Improving the healthcare experience itself is one of the best ways of improving the patient experience. When patients are able to quickly receive the care they need, especially in urgent cases, they are much more satisfied. With this satisfaction comes increased patient trusty, loyalty, and advocacy.
Implement an Order Management System with qCDSM
One of the most frustrating aspects of healthcare for both patients and providers is scheduling. All too often the scheduling experience is a negative one due to delays, missed appointments, and a lack of patient prep. Edgefield County Hospital in South Carolina was experiencing these issues. Orders from referring physicians were often incomplete or weren’t even received from the physician’s fax machine. This led to a lot of back and forth between Edgefield and their referring physicians, resulting in delayed care and unhappy patients.
Edgefield decided to implement iOrder, an order management system with integrated clinical decision support (qCDSM). iOrder eliminates faxes, ensuring orders are delivered on time, and its built-in qCDSM ensures the correct exam is ordered for each patient, virtually eliminating the need to reschedule appointments due to inadequate prep. “We were having a lot of patients showing up that weren’t being prepped correctly. iOrder has cut down on that almost 100%,” says Lisa Smith, Director of Radiology services at Edgefield. According to Smith, “Now we have complete orders. iOrder has taken care of that.” The table below shows the other benefits Edgefield saw as a result of implementing iOrder. All of these helped provide a better experience for Edgefield’s patients.
- Recaptured 75% of missed study revenue
- Billing improved by 96% due to reduction of incorrectly coded orders
- 100% of referring physicians use CDSM when submitting orders
- 93% reduction in ICD/CPT code issues
- 87% Increase in complete information orders coming to radiology
- 100% of referring physician orders submitted with iOrder – streamlined workflow
- 90% reduction in calls from referring physicians
- Order delay due to pre-cert issues eliminated
- Time required by referring physician to submit an order decreased by 60%
- 50% reduction in time from order submission to scheduled in radiology
We’ve examined 4 ways you can improve patient experience, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless ways to provide a better patient experience, so choose the ones that are right for your patients. One thing to remember though: as patients become more knowledgeable about their healthcare options, providers must strive to align their offerings with patients’ wants and needs. As providers compete to offer better patient experiences than their competitors, it’s imperative to consistently evaluate and innovate your organization’s practices and procedures to continually provide the best patient experience possible.