In the competitive healthcare industry, hospitals and health systems increasingly focus on patient experience as a way to set themselves apart. In the most recent State of Patient Experience study from the Beryl Institute, 82 percent of healthcare leaders indicated that patient experience is their top priority. Why? Positive experiences factor into HCAHPS Scores, which impact revenue and reimbursements. But experience also matters as a way to generate consumer loyalty and even improve the likelihood patients will pay their bills in full. The same organization’s inaugural Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience report from 2018 highlighted that patient experience is key for 91 percent of the patients surveyed.
Patients’ perceptions about their experience start before they’re admitted to the hospital and extend past discharge. Increasingly, the way to improve this is through the integration of in-person and digital resources. Patients judge their stay based on interactions they have become accustomed to in other industries such as retail, food delivery, or banking that commonly include well-designed digital options. Addressing the patient experience requires that healthcare leaders look at the entirety of the “care continuum.” This means evaluating areas like scheduling, cost transparency and cost estimation all the way through billing, after care and follow-up care.
Spectrum Enterprise recently partnered with HIMSS Analytics to explore aspects of the patient experience. This research shows there is opportunity for healthcare organizations to leverage technology to increase patient satisfaction.
With only 26 percent of patients highly satisfied with their inpatient stay, this tends to be where most organizations focus on improvement. Patients noted opportunity for improvement in several areas:
Each of these statistics highlights a missed opportunity to engage patients and their families during the inpatient stay in ways that will improve the experience.
Successful organizations explore technology that can help them better communicate what is happening each day to patients and families and deliver personalized, multimedia education at the bedside. In fact, 76 percent of organizations surveyed look for ways to personalize bedside education and ensure that it meets the needs of patients and family members.
Some healthcare organizations are using tools such as interactive patient systems (IPS) that enable patients to manage various aspects of their stay. These systems commonly include the ability to view their daily activities, change the room temperature, order meals anytime, access in-room entertainment and education options, and communicate directly with nursing staff. IPS can also facilitate patient access to medical records information. Systems and tools such as these provide a sense of connectedness and control to patients.
In addition, once the patient is home, technology can improve their perception of their experience. Remote monitoring can empower patients with information about their conditions and make them feel cared for. Post-visit, technology can enable systems to coordinate after-care needs; this focus on continuity helps to keep the patient engaged and loyal to the health system. Tech-enabled billing procedures drive transparency and simplicity, to help meet expectations around timing, costs, bill clarity and payment process. This makes patients feel that they matter from the beginning to the end of their hospital experience.
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In all of these ways, healthcare organizations can integrate technology with organizational culture to improve patient and family experiences. In the process, health systems can build loyalty and the likelihood that people will return for care when needed and recommend the health system to others while maintaining a consistent revenue stream. For a more in-depth discussion on patient experience, please listen to the webinar “Reimagining the Inpatient Experience” that I recently co-hosted with HIMSS Media.
Jan Oldenburg, FHIMSS, is the Principal in Participatory Health Consulting, where she advises client son their digital roadmaps and implementation strategies. Ms Oldenburg is the principal editor of Participatory Healthcare: A Person-Centered Approach to Transforming Healthcare, published in August, 2016 as well as the primary editor of Engage! Transforming Healthcare Through Digital Patient Engagement.