patient experience improvement causes satisfied patients

Process Improvement Methodologies are used for Patient Experience Improvement

Healthcare organizations are continually pursuing ways to improve their processes to enhance the patient experience they provide. However, the biggest problem is that they need to measure patient experience improvement, and there is no specific way to do so. The challenge is to gain access to timely and relevant data. Nevertheless, in spite of this roadblock, they have found another way to measure their success.

patient experience improvement causes satisfied patients

According to a survey, the participating healthcare systems have stated that the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) or similar CMS surveys are their most preferred tools to track the patient experience provided. These are followed by phone calls made before a patient’s discharge and assistance from third-parties, or non-CMS surveys.

These healthcare providers have also increased their use of social media monitoring because of their needs for accurate and timely patient experience data, which is why using these methodologies do not seem that surprising. The number of healthcare systems utilizing process improvement methodologies is higher than the ones who do not use it, and the former ones stated that HCAHPS or CMS surveys are their preferred way of both tracking and measuring their organization’s success or failure regarding the patient experience they provide.

Moreover, the number of respondents who said they use tracking and are using it for process improvement methodologies is higher compared to those respondents who do not, with in-house surveys being an exception. This shows the amount of emphasis placed on performance measurement by process improvement, which no doubt the respondents believe leads to patient experience improvement.

They may have used several process improvements, like enhancing the patient identification system, since patient identification is a recurring problem in most healthcare systems, as 8% of the medical records are duplicates on average. Some hospitals are utilizing biometric patient identification like RightPatient, which does enhance the whole process, as physicians can focus on more critical tasks rather than take time identifying the patients. All of this ultimately leads to the healthcare systems providing a personalized patient experience.

These healthcare systems are correct in placing their trust in process improvement methodologies, and the report reflects that. It is favorable for patients and healthcare providers alike, as 87% of the respondents stated that their organizations had experienced significant improvements in the HCAHPS scores or similar measurements, which is a clear indicator of the efforts they have made to enhance the patient experience in response to their previous scores.

The report’s breakdown is as follows: 13% of respondents have observed significant improvements, 44% have noticed moderate gains, and 30% have experienced minor improvements, while 5% saw no increase.

However, the results reveal another aspect- there is a positive correlation between patient experience improvement and the use of such process improvement methodologies. A large number of respondents (16%) have stated that they experienced significantly improved HCAHPS scores after using the methods compared to those who did not use them (6%). Likewise, moderate improvements were noticed by a large number of respondents (47%) who used the process improvement methodologies compared to those who did not (36%). Accordingly, the respondents who did not use such methods are far higher in number (10%) than those who used it (3%) and reported that they did not see any improvements.

How are the healthcare systems improving their patient experience significantly? Other than process improvements, they can also utilize technology to enhance the patient experience further. They can use apps like CircleCare. It is a patient retention app used by hospitals for active patient engagement. Once a hospital subscribes, they can instruct the patient to use it for various purposes like communication with the hospital, keeping track of their steps, recording their glucose levels, scheduling their medicine, and receiving valuable health tips within the app. All these activities not only help to improve patient engagement but also cause patient experience improvement, resulting in an increase in patient retention rates due to better patient outcomes.

patient engagement

Patient Engagement and Patient Experience help reducing hospital readmissions

Patient engagement refers to the concept of the patient’s behavior where he/she proactively participates with the healthcare provider, whereas patient experience is a concept which encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the different tiers of the healthcare system such as interactions with doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, or basically the whole healthcare system. Some people use it interchangeably because both are linked together and are used towards achieving a common goal- reducing hospital readmissions.

patient engagement

Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is a concept which deals with patient activation, which is mostly empowering the patient so that the patient feels like they can take an informed decision about their healthcare to improve treatment outcome, lower costs, and also help provide more efficient patient care. This also rests in the hands of the healthcare system, as they are the ones who encourage patient engagement in the first place. There is also a framework for patient engagement, which is as follows:

  1. Shared Decision-Making Stage: In this stage, the patient is informed about his/her condition, and the patient participates in the decision-making process along with the healthcare provider. This approach is used mostly for patients whose situation is more preference sensitive.
  2. Patient Activation: In this stage, the patients are more aware and understand their situation as they know their condition. Research among 30,000 patients at Fairview health services in Minnesota suggests that patients with a lower level of understanding about their condition incurred 8% – 21% more costs in healthcare. Thus, this step of active involvement of the patient to treat their situation is the stage called patient activation. However, it does require the assistance of the healthcare systems, as they have accurate information regarding the patients.
  3. Broader Patient Engagement: This step is more about mass awareness creation and social interpretations of patient engagement. The concerned parties are to influence patient participation in such a way that it helps the masses; they try to educate the masses about their conditions so that they can make informed consensual decisions about their healthcare with respect to their healthcare providers.

Patient Experience

Patient experience refers to the number of interactions patients have with the healthcare system. It includes their care from health plans, and doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities. It is a core aspect of healthcare quality and is used to help measure a healthcare system’s ranking- the better the patient experience, the better the healthcare system, and vice versa. It also consists of components which patients value highly, like appointments, the hospital itself, the care they receive – basically everything associated with the healthcare provider. This is the basic concept of the patient experience. Healthcare providers use a combination of tools to enhance the patient experience. For example, to have an edge over other healthcare systems, many uses biometric patient identification like RightPatient, which matches the patient with their EHRs using iris scanning.

The link between Patient Engagement and Patient Experience

There are several factors which can interlink patient engagement and patient experience amongst them. A few are mentioned below:

  • Better patient engagement and experience lead to better patient satisfaction.
  • Better patient engagement and experience offer better value for patients’ money.
  • Better patient engagement leads directly to better patient experience.
  • Better follow up results in positive patient experience.
  • Patient engagement makes having a better patient experience more comfortable for the patient.
  • The liability of informed consent is divided between the patient and the caregiver, which affects the patient experience positively.
  • Better patient experience and better engagement go hand in hand in the financial aspects of the healthcare system as they help reducing hospital readmissions.

Effects on the hospital readmission rate

  • Better engagement and experience relate to better reputation buildup of the hospital, which affects readmission rates by reducing hospital readmissions.
  • Better engagement leads to more effective treatment, which reduces risk-standardized readmissions.
  • Better overall patient experience will result in the patient choosing the hospital over other hospitals in case of another condition of him/her or a family member.
  • Better engagement and experience lead to patient satisfaction, which results in a reduction of risk-based readmissions and increases reputation-based readmissions.
  • With better patient engagement, patients are acquainted with the treatment plans and procedures correctly, which results in lowering risk-based readmission as well.
  • Involvement of the hospital staff leads to better mental satisfaction in the patient as well, which results in better word of mouth reputation, and also leads to more effective treatment, which helps in reducing hospital readmissions.

Many healthcare providers are very successfully providing both positive patient experience and increased patient engagement. For enhanced patient experience, RightPatient is the choice of many for biometric patient identification, which speeds up the overall process, helping the hospital staff to save significant time identifying the incoming patients so that they can put resources to better use in critical tasks. Patient engagement has a lot of tools, as well. However, the recent trend is to use apps like CircleCare, a patient retention app with a lot of benefits for both the patients as well as the healthcare systems. It can track steps, provide reminders regarding medicine, record glucose levels, blood pressure, as well as help the patients communicate with their healthcare providers. After the hospital subscribes to the app, the patient only needs to download it and use it, not only to communicate with their physicians but also for better health, which will help with patient engagement as well as provide better patient outcomes by reducing hospital readmissions, creating a win-win situation for all.

patient matching improvements

Hospitals are Prioritizing Patient Matching Accuracy

Patient identification has been haunting the healthcare industry since its inception. Using the existing practices in the industry, accuracy rates are significantly low and cannot be used to exchange health data effectively, as reported by officials from different healthcare systems such as hospitals and physicians. The industry is in dire need of patient matching improvement. 

patient matching accuracy

However, the above report is not the only one- other statements point towards the same conclusion of requiring patient matching improvement, as per the research brief from Pew Charitable Trusts. A study was conducted by Pew researchers along with Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC) that sought to identify the current situation of patient identification in the healthcare industry. They did so by collecting information from different healthcare executives with the use of interviews. Another aspect of the study was to identify how to achieve patient matching improvement. The sample of this study was healthcare experts and influential figures from various practices and sizes who served numerous patients in diverse regions all over the country.

A vast majority of the sample expressed the same view- patient identification and matching were quite inaccurate and desperately needs an overhaul, thanks to the increasing demand for interoperability.

Healthcare providers are now motivated to exchange more health data due to the recent CMS Promoting Interoperability program. That’s not all! CMS is also going to be granting incentives to accountable care organizations (ACOs) who will show savings through activities which support care coordination.

According to the Pew researchers, healthcare systems like hospitals and clinicians eligible for these programs need to exchange information with others so that all of the parties have the latest patient data from other various institutions.

The hospital officials stated that it is quite challenging to measure the match rates, resulting in their efforts being ineffective to examine and improve the patient identification rates. They also had difficulty providing a number when asked for the identification rates within their organizations. This was because many hospitals only keep a record of the duplicates identified through EHRs, whereas others do not know which files are relevant and which are unlinked.  Thus, without knowing the actual number of correct matches, these healthcare systems cannot determine their match rates. Therefore, only the amount of misidentifications was provided by them, thus summarizing the research.

It was also identified that healthcare systems could easily match patient identities when asked by organizations they are in constant contact with. Both automated and manual processes are utilized to link records to the correct individual.

However, whenever it is an organization with whom the healthcare system is not in contact with regularly, match rates are inclined to be lower. This is because these unsolicited requests introduce more blockades because the healthcare system may not have a record of that individual, and the healthcare system uses automated processes for such applications. On top of that, the research also showed that urban areas require better identification rates compared to rural areas as not much-sharing activities take place in the latter.

Some healthcare executives also think that improved patient identification matching requires significant costs. However, many believe that biometric patient identification is the solution to improve matching rates and is worth the cost. Some hospitals are even utilizing iris scanning solutions like RightPatient to identify all their patients and pull their relevant data from their EHRs and show a significant change. They report that it is fast, accurate and improves the overall patient experience as well as speeding up the whole process and saving valuable time of the physicians so that they can concentrate on more critical tasks such as the patients themselves.

Patient experience

Patient experience and patient engagement: Is there any difference?

There are quite some differences between engagement and experience. However, in the healthcare industry, the terms patient engagement and patient experience are sometimes used interchangeably due to which people believe that they are the same thing, confusing. To clear it up- patient experience and patient engagement are not the same things.Patient experience

In the healthcare industry, hospitals are assigning more resources than ever to improve the patient experience. Likewise, both technology and employees are being utilized to find out how patient engagement can be improved. Patient engagement has been becoming increasingly important because the patients are playing an active role as they use more smartwatches, keep track of their data like steps, blood pressure, and others.

However, what are the actual differences in patient experience and patient engagement? Let us find out.

Patient experience

Patient experience is the summation of all the experiences an individual has during his/her interactions with the healthcare system. It starts right from the phone call until the checkups. In between, there are more parts of the patient experience, like the visit to the hospital, the quality of the care provided by the hospital, billing experience, and can be many more varying on the situation. To sum it up, all these small interactions make up the entire patient experience. A key feature of patient experience is that the responsible party is the healthcare system and not the patient. Thus, it entirely depends on the healthcare provider whether the experience will be good or otherwise.

Patient engagement

On the other hand, patient engagement, as per its definition, consists of the steps an individual must take to acquire the maximum benefits from the available healthcare services. See the difference? It is quite clear from the definition itself. It puts the patients in charge of their healthcare. Various services are made available to the patient from the provider’s end. However, it is up to the patient whether he/she wants to avail those or not- the patient needs to act or engage with those services. For instance, CircleCare is a part of those healthcare services- it is an app through which the patient can participate in various engagement activities effectively.

In short, patient experience is the responsibility of the healthcare provider, whereas patient engagement is in the hands of the patients, provided that the services are made available by the hospitals. However, it is beneficial for both the patients and the healthcare provider if the patient engagement is increased, as it causes the patients to become more responsible and make the whole healthcare process easier for themselves and the providers.

One key patient engagement strategy for hospitals to use is patient retention apps. These apps help to keep the hospitals be in constant communication with the patients, making the recovery process more streamlined and help to retain them. CircleCare is such an app. It helps the patients keep records of their health data, track their steps, share updates, learn health tips, and share useful information within their circle. Once the hospital subscribes to CircleCare, the patient can download, register, and use right away- it is that easy! While engaging within the app, it helps the patients be proactive, live more healthily, and helps the hospitals by assisting them to retain the patients, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.

how patient engagement reduces hospital readmission CircleCare

Ways in which patient engagement strategies prevent hospital readmission

how patient engagement reduces hospital readmissionOne of the main determinants of performance in the healthcare industry is reducing hospital readmission. In layman’s terms, it means that the lower the hospital readmission rate, the better the services are of the healthcare system. Many healthcare systems are trying their best to lower their readmission rates to save costs as well.

Hospital Readmission Reduction Program (HRRP) was introduced by CMS in 2010 to deal with reducing hospital readmission rates. It has been successful, as it has helped to reduce readmissions by 8 percent.

On the surface, it might sound good and relatively easy. However, reducing hospital readmissions can be quite a challenge as it depends on several factors. Other than providing first-class care to the patients, the healthcare systems must also ensure the patients engage in post-discharge care management so that their condition becomes better, not worse.

How do the healthcare systems do that exactly?

Highlighting high-risk patients

During the post-discharge period, there are a lot of probable patients who might suffer from a medical issue. After identifying them, the task is to focus the engagement efforts towards these high-risk individuals. To determine the high-risk patients, the clinician can start looking at the healthcare conditions, which cause the highest readmissions. For instance, pneumonia, which is not caused by STIs or tuberculosis, causes 88,800 readmissions.

Not only medical conditions, but there are also other factors which can cause readmissions. Patients may have limited knowledge regarding specific topics. They may have limited health literacy, limited language skills, others may receive different information from different officials in the same healthcare system, and others can even be omitted from post-discharge care.

Patients can also be at risk of readmission if they are facing particular social determinants of health (SDOH). For instance, transportation issues, job security, and similar issues may prevent the patient from following up with the clinicians, which in turn will cause adverse health effects and thus readmission. Likewise, low earners will not be able to afford home care following the discharge.

The healthcare systems need to create follow-up procedures based on the above situations. By engaging with both the patients and their families and keeping in mind the SDOH, hospitals not only can make their follow-up strategies better but also help reducing hospital readmission.

Another solution to all these problems can be CircleCare patient retention app. It can provide essential health tips to the patients, keep track of their steps, maintain their medicine schedules, and also be a medium of communication with the hospital. After the hospital subscribes to CircleCare, the patients only need to download the app to use these benefits, which can help reducing hospital readmission significantly.

Engaging both patients and their family members

In the recovery phase, it is best to involve and engage not only the patients themselves but also their family members. This will help as the family members are aware of the patient’s preferences and thus can make him/her feel more comfortable as well as follow the instructions of the hospitals. This helps reduce the readmission rate by 25 percent for 90-day readmissions and 24 percent for 180-day readmissions.

Also, it is an excellent strategy to provide the guidelines in writing during the patient’s discharge, as it gives a detailed description for the patient to follow post-discharge. Statistics support this, as patients who were not provided with any detailed guidelines had 24 percent more chance to be readmitted.

Acknowledgment of SDOH

No matter the strategies, some patients may not be able to comply with the post-discharge and follow-up guidelines, which may not even be there fault. The SDOH can act as a barrier to their betterment.

According to Health Services Research, if the SDOH were factored into the HRRP, 21.8 percent penalty reduction would take place.

SDOH is not considered in the HRRP. The hospitals can provide questionnaires to the patients or their family members to find out whether they face any of the SDOH or some other barrier while availing post-discharge healthcare and follow-ups.

CircleCare

As there are various problems which might be faced by the patients- SDOH, lack of written instructions, or others, the best possible solution would be to give them something which they can access according to their convenience. CircleCare can not only engage the patients, but also keep track of their information like blood glucose, blood pressure, and remind them of their medicine intake. It also provides the patients with health tips and rewards and can be used to provide detailed instructions post-discharge as well as share health updates with the hospitals. All this will not only help improve the health of the patients, but it will also be a platform where the patients can be more engaged with the hospital by sharing their health-related statistics so that the officials can provide proper feedback. This, in turn, will cause patient satisfaction to rise, and ultimately, patient retention will be achieved.

why-physicians-patients-dissatisfied-ehr-rightpatient

EHRs: Why are physicians and patients dissatisfied with them?

Electronic health records (EHRs) are supposed to make things easier for doctors, improve health outcomes for patients, and create a better experience for everyone. However, most research indicates the opposite. There is a high level of EHR dissatisfaction among practitioners and the impact on patient experience has been underwhelming. So, what has gone wrong?

When EHR system use became mandated, clinicians were expected to experience initial growing pains as they were forced to learn new skills. However, as comfort levels grew, their perceptions were expected to change over time, resulting in better communication and care. Unfortunately, doctors are still complaining about EHRs even after several years of widespread implementation and use. In fact, research shows that EHRs have become a major contributing factor to physician burnout.

Physician Dissatisfaction with EHRs

Too much manual data entry causes physician dissatisfaction with EHRs.

The aforementioned Mayo Clinic Proceedings study also found that as many as 84.5% of physicians are using EHRs and the majority of them are not satisfied. Most physicians feel that EHRs are inefficent and require too much manual data entry where time is spent on clerical tasks rather than patient interactions.

Likewise, patients are also not satisfied with EHRs as they notice doctors spending more time looking at the computer screen during their visits. Research shows that gaze time (amount of time the doctor looks at the patient) is directly related to patient satisfaction.

Apart from data entry issues, a RAND study identified many other reasons for EHR dissatisfaction among physicians. For example, most physicians agreed that EHR interfaces were not intuitive, thus hampering their workflow instead of augmenting it. They also complain that EHRs are not implemented well enough to facilitate the proper exchange of information. Many physicians feel overloaded with irrelevant information.

Doctors also noticed that templates provided with EHR systems degraded the quality of their reports. Even more worrisome is that most physicians found that EHRs are not improving over time. 

Undoubtedly, these studies indicate the need for a system update and technology that frees doctors from having to spend time on routine clerical or data entry tasks. This technology would ideally enable clinicians to focus on their primary responsibility – carefully listening to, observing, and getting to know their patients so they can provide the highest level of care.

This is where RightPatient can help by providing an AI system that automatically identifies patients when they arrive and then engages with them to collect useful information that is pushed into the EHR system. This enables clinicians to understand much more about a patient’s condition while reducing their data entry burden. With RightPatient, doctors receive concise, relevant, and real-time information regarding their patients to save time, increase efficiency, and improve the patient experience.

making-most-of-patient-wait-times-rightpatient

Making the most of patient wait times

The U.S. healthcare system has long suffered from the problem of excessive patient waiting times. In 2015, 32% of visits to the ED resulted in patient wait times of up to an hour. Obtaining an initial outpatient appointment with a physician can take a month or more. The fact is that waiting times can be unbearably long for patients and doctors are often helpless in solving the issue.

Long waiting times can have a negative impact on a patient’s health by causing delays in consultations. Furthermore, wait times reduce patient satisfaction scores with healthcare service providers. Research has shown that patient satisfaction scores were affected across almost every aspect of care delivery when waiting times were long, with patients reporting lower levels of confidence in the care provider. Longer waiting times not only impact overall patient satisfaction, they also negatively affect the way that patients perceive the information, instruction, and care provided by their caregivers and physicians.

Clinics have adopted various methods to improve satisfaction while a patient is waiting for an appointment. These typically involve providing information regarding different disease conditions, tips on practicing a healthy lifestyle, etc.; essentially, they their best to make waiting areas comfortable and informative. Additionally, some clinics use office staff to gather information from the patient. However, in many cases, the information provided by the clinic may not be relevant to the patient. Similarly, gathering information about the patient through staff is an expensive activity with limited benefits.

As we have seen, patient wait times can have a negative impact on both patients and their clinicians. However, what if there was a way to utilize these waiting times more productively? Can patients be engaged in a more meaningful way while they are waiting? This is precisely where RightPatient can help.

RightPatient can help to improve the patient experience and optimize wait times through its autonomous check-in process. When patients arrive for scheduled outpatient visits, RightPatient automatically recognizes them and engages through an AI-driven chat session. This enables patients to learn about their conditions as important clinical information is collected, which is automatically fed into the EHR. The clinical team can review this information prior to the consultation, saving time and increasing efficiency by eliminating the need for manual data entry into the EHR system. Physicians can then spend this time interacting directly with the patient to bolster satisfaction and clinical outcomes.

RightPatient enables doctors to spend more time focused on what they want to be doing – listening to patients, addressing their emotional and physical well-being, and spending less time worrying about data entry into health records. Satisfied and engaged patients also respond more favorably to more personal interactions with their caregivers, creating a win-win environment.