How consumers shop in 2019 has fundamentally altered how healthcare is provided, including stepping up the patient experience. They expect to experience top notch service in a brick and mortar retail store, and they expect the same “5-star” service inside the walls of a hospital or medical office.
Prominent healthcare systems are leading the way in this effort. Here are the top four predictions on what we can expect to see over the next year when it comes to the patient experience.
Streamlining with Technology
Leading hospitals will utilize technology to produce more cost-effective programs, such as an EMR-integrated customer relationship management (CRM) platform where insights are assembled and saved for future reference. This data will include documentation from patients’ previous visits, to predictors of potential future health concerns.
Dominant healthcare systems will make sure that information stored in the CRM is distributed among staff on the clinical and administrative side. This information will set providers up to offer the most personal care possible for their patients. Say for example that a parent calls a pediatrician’s office to request an appointment for a minor injury, the staff would see a flag on the child’s account that they’re due for an annual flu shot. Having this insight will save the parent a secondary trip to the office, and make sure that their patient is up-to-date on vaccinations.
Leveraging Social Determinants of Health
Health systems are doing their best to identify and document social determinants of health through patient engagement programs. By capturing patients’ nonclinical facets, such as where they live, work, and play, can help improve retention.
These type of insights can also have a major effect on the quality of care. For example, if a patient does not have the means to drive to a follow-up appointment, other arrangements can be made such as utilizing a medical transport company. According to the American Hospital Association, 40% of a patient’s health is based on socioeconomic circumstances.
While there are health systems who are investing in programs to create a more empathetic approach to their care, and enhance cultural sensitivity, they are also looking to improve their patient satisfaction scores. Leading healthcare systems know that without the appropriate data to facilitate their efforts, staff member’s hands are tied and can only do so much.
Utilizing Multiple Engagement Channels
Today’s patient, more than likely, has access to a private online portal where they can access their records, review test results, and communicate with their provider through a Q&A platform.
Medical providers have invested in these portals as well as apps for their patients to use, however, utilization is not high. A recent report by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology indicates that approximately 52% of patients have access to a portal, but only 28% actually use it. App usage is even lower, with a recent Accenture report finding that less than 2% of patients use the apps that hospitals offer.
With that said, it will be important for major health institutions to engage with their patients across multiple channels. Portal messages are only one small piece of the puzzle — texting in particular has become an effective and easy way to have communication with patients. Additionally, live chats and phone calls must be a part of the patient engagement strategy. If they want to increase their odds of actually contacting patients, a multi-prong approach will be the best bet.
Assisting Patients with Nonclinical Navigators
Leading health systems will increase the use of nonclinical personnel to assist patients as they navigate the healthcare system.
As Xtelligent Healthcare explained, “Whether they are called patient navigators, advocates, coaches, or community health workers, non-clinical health workers are becoming increasingly important for patient engagement and care coordination.”
Patient navigators have been shown to improve care quality and lower costs. A 2017 article published in JAMA Oncology showed that a layperson patient navigator program yielded a tenfold return on investment, with average costs for patients receiving layperson navigation declining by $781.29 per patient per quarter. That created a total cost savings of $19 million annually across the network.
Another benefit of using nonclinical navigators is that they can be added on board based on personal skillsets. Maybe they have a background in providing outstanding hospitality, possess the ability to show empathy, or maybe they speak multiple languages and can relate to patients culturally.
Improving the patient experience is imperative in the competition for healthcare market share, and organizations must make it a priority, if it isn’t already.
For more information on improving the patient experience, be sure to review our previous blog post.