NHS or National Health Services, the public health services of England, Scotland and Wales identifies “experience” as one of the three key components of quality care and should be given equal emphasis along with safety and clinical effectiveness.
With the onslaught of technology and increased awareness, health facilities have to re-imagine patient engagement and service. This starts with an organizational shift that is focused towards a customer service culture guided by empathy, compassion, respect and dignity.
Evidence has revealed that patients with positive experience show better health results and improved prognosis. This in turn will have a direct bearing on the cost of care and will even reduce load on the health infrastructure of a nation or the community.
What constitutes a Positive Patient Experience?
Attaining positive patient experience in a hospital is a very ambitious undertaking. For starters, we are dealing with a life and death scenario.
Every interaction has to be carefully analyzed and dealt with a lot of sensitivity. As per a McKinsey analysis –
“Many health systems make large investments to improve the patient experience but fail to achieve their desired objectives because they did not understand what really matters most to their patients”
The primary reason for this is the inability of health enterprises to identity the pain-points that can influence (positively or negatively) patient experience. Secondly, the premise of patient experience is not just limited to an individual (the patient). The experiences of the family members or attendants also matters.
In view of this, patient experience strategies must be built along the following metrics-
Bringing Transparency in Treatment - Information and control over one's treatment is the mainstay of positive patient experience. Patient must be offered correct knowledge and information pertaining to their treatment, medical intervention, drugs, after care etc. The ability to make informed decision is an empowering choice every patient should have. Besides patients, this touch-point of patient experience should also include family members.
Having stated that, hospitals should practice discretion in the case of terminally ill patients. Revealing the treatment plan and declaring the prognosis of the treatment directly to the patient is not advisable. In such cases, involvement of the family, social workers and counselors during treatment will make a patient's’ stay pleasant and positive.
Accommodating the Needs of Caregivers – Positive patient experience is also linked to how hospitals and health care centers treat their caregivers. Families or attendants are equally involved in the treatment of patients. Making their surroundings positive by offering them support and counseling associated with patient’s illness, prognosis, and finances ensues a feeling of empathy which goes a long way in positively impacting attendant experience.
Promoting Intelligent Interaction – Any individual, whether he or she is a patient or attendant is under a lot of duress when reaching out to a hospital. These interactions could entail emergency treatment, in-patient care or outpatient consultation. Irrespective of the nature of interaction, it should be designed in a manner that minimizes pain and anxiety and promote prompt and helpful service.
Consider the following example-
A patient calls the hospital to procure information regarding finance and insurance. Now, thanks to Omni-channel contact center solution like Ameyo that is driven by intelligent routing, the patients call will be directed to the agent who only deals with such queries. Such query based treatment not only improves the efficiency of the hospital, but also positively impacts patient experience.
Shift in Organizational Culture
Customer-centric or in this case patient-centric culture can only come about if hospitals and health care centers make a conscious effort to overhaul their organizational structure. Other verticals, namely e-commerce, hospitality and even BFSI go to great lengths to improve customer experience. It’s time that hospitals follow suit.
Aligning Patient Experience to Business Goals-Hospitals at the end of the day require revenue to function and render service to their patients. They have to cover the bills, pay salaries to the professionals and even make profit to survive in the business. If the business goal is to improve revenue and profit, patient experience should be seen as a formidable part of that exercise. After all, patient satisfaction will not only encourage retention, but will also promote others to visit the facility.
Improving Internal Operations- One of the biggest business challenges for hospitals today is to improve the internal operations of the health facility. These include –
- Improving agent response time
- Lowering abandoned calls
- Facilitating digital presence
- Quality management
- Unified access to patient information
- Patient data security
- Automated interactions or chatbots
These challenges can be adequately addressed by incorporating an Omni-channel contact center solution that fosters end to end patient satisfaction. The technology will empower agents with real time information and will allow them to serve the patients better.
Empathy, care and dignity when clubbed with technology will unleash positive patient experience. The ability to address patient queries and insecurities in real time, while missing the human element is something hospitals need to work on to build happy patient memories and improving experience.