A patient’s experience is defined by their interactions with the healthcare system, including their communication with all medical providers and insurers. Several aspects of healthcare delivery that patients value highly when seeking and receiving care are included in the patient experience and are an integral component of healthcare quality.

Patient opinion is important in healthcare. Several crucial processes and outcomes are positively related to various aspects of the patient experience, such as effective communication between providers and patients.

Some studies do not demonstrate a link between patient experience and clinical outcomes. This is because processes can be influenced by multiple factors other than the patient experience. Thus, it is imperative to combine patient experience measures with other aspects of quality of care to create an overall performance picture.

Communication and the Patient Experience

Patient-provider communication is an area that directly benefits both organizations and patients when improved. Facilities should develop and use communication protocols that ensure patients and family feel listened to, understood, and informed.

The patient experience begins prior to appointment scheduling. As with other aspects of everyday life, healthcare has moved into the digital space. Updated technology that provides concise care plans, gathers feedback, and provides information on managing health and wellness is becoming standard. Today’s consumer expects a digital, patient-centric care experience that focuses on online appointment scheduling, convenient access to providers via email, and online or mobile bill payment. Healthcare organizations that thrive in the future will be those prepared to meet patients’ long-term preference for digital and remote interactions.

The quality of the patient experience directly affects the outcome of the patient. Most measures of heart attack patient success are associated with the hospital experience. It is well known that patients with diabetes, who report better communication and overall experience with their health care providers, also, report better blood sugar control. This effect can be seen across all disciplines of care.

Improving Patient Experience is Good for Business

Patients and providers both benefit from fostering improved patient experience. Patients who report positive experiences are five times more likely to choose a practice than organizations with strong consumer marketing. Hospitals with excellent patient experience ratings tend to have 50% higher profit margins than average hospitals.

Most patients consult online provider review websites before booking an appointment with a new practitioner and over half of patients would switch healthcare providers if it meant great customer service. Furthermore, patients who are satisfied with the quality of their provider relationships are three times more likely to remain loyal to the practice than those who experience poor relationships.

Medical malpractice risk is also lower when patients have positive interactions. Every point increase in score, from one being extremely poor to ten being extremely good, reduces malpractice risk by over 10 percent.

Efforts to improve patient experience also improve employee satisfaction thereby reducing turnover and effectively lowering overall costs.

Proven Clinical and Business Strategies

Cooperation across all levels of the organization is key for improvement in the patient experience. Proven ways to begin increasing patient satisfaction begins with identifying the current patient experience and then creating a strategy to effectively make improvements. Developing a formal definition of patient experience is crucial. A comprehensive model for continuous patient and family engagement along with community partnership should be outlined.

Because employee and provider satisfaction are vital factors in a patient’s experience, physicians, nurses, staff, and ancillary professionals should be included in the development process. Educating and engaging staff is necessary to implement focused outcomes that impact negative patient experiences. As an example, limiting the duration of an in-patient stay may cause a patient to feel that their discharge is hurried, leading them to feel unsatisfied with their care and the institution. It is in this area where staff engagement and education can play a key role in improving the patient experience, by ensuring that all questions have been answered and that the next steps are clear to the patient.

Organizations can incorporate patient and public input into patient experience improvement by establishing patient and family advisory boards, offering patient and family participation events, and eliciting patient and family feedback. Well known strategies that continue to improve patient experience are minimizing wait times, maintaining clean waiting areas and restrooms, providing comfortable environments, and compassionate in-person experiences.

Organizations should regularly incorporate patient feedback in their improvement strategies as a reliable way of improving patient experience. Feedback collected within 72 hours of a visit provides useful insights about the organization’s information exchange, facility responsiveness, and provider engagement that enable organizations to build upon their existing strategy,

While the patient experience coincides with quality and safety measures it also correlates with improved health outcomes. Healthcare organizations should ensure that initiatives to improve patient experience are utilized as an indicator of care, and not an outcome of care, meaning that patient experience should be used to make quality of care improvements without the disregard of possible negative impacts.

Lastly, patients who have positive experiences with their providers and the healthcare institution while fighting a serious disease are an important indicator of experience. Measuring the patient perception during a health crisis can qualify how well providers and staff are managing these patients’ care and bolstering feelings of trust and compassion.

If you want to learn how your practice can enhance the patient experience, Virtual OfficeWare Healthcare Solutions has resources and technology driving patient engagement. Let’s connect! No worries if you are not ready to talk now, feel free to explore more first.