Very few Americans report being pleased with the healthcare system. Granted, this isn’t the same thing as saying that they are being given poor care. The United States may not top the charts with healthcare outcomes but it does consistently enjoy high-quality technology and medicine, such as touchless patient identification platforms like RightPatient.
Nevertheless, there is always room for improvement and small adjustments can make a big difference, both in terms of patient outcomes, and general satisfaction. In this article, we take a look at five relatively simple ways you can improve the patient experience.
Most lay people would be astounded by how much traffic even a typical doctor’s office gets each day. Dozens of patients filter in and are often afforded mere minutes with their care providers. The sheer number of people coming through creates an obvious need for speed.
While it is important to keep things moving along, don’t allow the need for efficiency to come at the cost of the patient experience and engagement. Be attentive, and handle questions with patience.
Trendy electronic health services like apps and other remote communication technologies are serving to alleviate some of the pressure on the healthcare system. With some patients electing to handle their questions remotely, it becomes easier to give people physically in the office a little more time and attention.
Keep Things Realistic
No matter the situation, it’s important to give patients a very clear understanding of where they are at with their health. Sometimes this will mean being blunt. If a patient is overweight, they should leave the office understanding how this puts their overall health and well-being at risk.
Often, this means having unpleasant, or uncomfortable conversations with patients. That’s ok. The healthcare system does not exist to make people feel good about themselves. It’s there to help patients achieve the best health possible. That can’t happen unless they have a clear, unfiltered understanding of where they are at, and what needs to improve.
Explain in Detail
It’s also important to keep in mind that patients may know little to nothing, even about things that seem standard to you as a healthcare provider. A recent study revealed that almost 80% of adults with high blood pressure aren’t monitoring the condition regularly, with many not even knowing how.
For a significant portion of the population, annual doctor visits may be the only time they examine their health in detail. The more information you can give them, the better off they will be.
Keep in mind that just because a patient hasn’t asked a question, that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand what you are saying. The patient may not even know that they should ask a question. Anytime you learn something important about a patient’s health, make sure they leave the office with a very clear understanding of what it means, and how they should be handling it. While you can’t control how they handle their health outside of the office, you can give them all the tools they need to make the right choices.
Take and Implement Feedback
The healthcare industry isn’t exactly known for its customer service. This makes sense to an extent. Health is an important, serious consideration. Niceties seem unnecessary, even obstructive.
While you don’t have to treat the hospital system like Amazon customer service, you should consider, and in certain cases, implement patient feedback. This doesn’t mean bending over backward to accommodate patient requests.
Many common complaints — long wait times perhaps topping the chart — are born primarily out of a lack of understanding by the patient.
Still, you can learn important things about the patient experience by listening to what they say with an open mind.
Provide Multiple Customer Service Channels
It’s no secret that interacting with the healthcare system can be a difficult and unproductive process. Hospitals aren’t fully to blame. They are short-staffed, and often overwhelmed by the number of people requiring their service. Sometimes, this doesn’t leave very much time to answer the phones.
Implementing multiple channels of patient communication alleviates the stress on the system and makes it easier for patients and hospital staff alike to go over the information.
Digital forms of communication, such as healthcare applications, make it easy for patients to ask questions that aren’t particularly urgent. Am I allowed to eat before this appointment? Is it ok if I bring my children with me to the waiting room? Etc.
When hospital staff doesn’t have to constantly field relatively minor concerns, it gives the phone operators more time to deal with serious questions.
Naturally, not everyone will want to use apps for their healthcare communication. However, by making it an option, you improve the overall experience for everyone and make it easier to communicate quickly with patients.