Patient experience is not just about the quality of care measurements and outcomes. Today, there are about 10 aspects that define the patient experience, and each one has its own impact to attract and retain patients within the network.
Patient experience and engagement can be defined by the following aspects,
- Meeting with a doctor
- Wait time
- Scheduling appointments
- Appointment follow-up
- Staff interactions
- Online reviews
- Social media
Let us explore a few tips that will enhance the patient experience, improve patient engagement, drive better outcomes and keep staff engaged. We know patients actively involved in their health tend to have better outcomes, report higher overall satisfaction, and experience lower health-related costs.
Enhancing and transforming the patient experience and providing first-rate, patient-centered care revolves around the consistent development of processes to meet patients’ expectations and needs. Understanding patients’ preferences and priorities will allow practices to identify and optimize opportunities to increase comfort and reduce suffering which will ultimately strengthen the patient-provider relationship.
Let us first define exactly what patient engagement is and break down top-level strategies that practices can use to stay connected with their patients outside traditional clinic walls.
What is the difference between patient engagement and patient experience?
The patient experience is influenced by the perception of the care they received. Ultimately, patient experience represents the overall satisfaction of their personal experience with the practice, which, more often than not, is beyond control.
Patient engagement, however, relates to the way a patient mobilizes their healthcare experience. What actions do they take that allow them to take an active role in their healthcare? What tools, technologies, and programs are available to encourage patients, caregivers, and families to play a more engaged role in administering their long-term health and wellness?
To improve patient engagement, a practice must recognize that engaging with patients is a triangular synergy between the physician, the patient, and the practice. It is about encouraging interaction between patients and providing meaningful opportunities for your patients to engage in the ways they know and are comfortable with.
1) Keeping patients engaged after they leave
Patient engagement is no rocket science. Patients want any practice to be accessible. They desire simple ways to schedule appointments, and perhaps most important of all, they want transparent and straightforward billing.
Technology has its purpose, but nothing can substitute for genuine interpersonal communication. Compassion and empathy are not something patients can get from AI or an app; they are, however, things the practice and their staff can use to promote greater engagement.
If a practice has the latest technological gadgets, it doesn’t mean that they can check patient engagement off your to-do list. Improving patient engagement is about that personal touch, human connection, feeling like taking an active role in managing healthcare delivery.
Therefore, how can a practice engage their patients? The answer lies in the space between a doctor’s visit and the following chapter in a patient’s care.
Patients have climbed on the digital bandwagon and ready for technological engagement. Patients already interact daily with different technologies, so practice should consider employing those to boost engagement. Here are some ideas that will work:
- Smartwatch health data monitoring
- Real-time educational opportunities through the website or Alexa-like devices
- Push notifications to remind patients to exercise, pick up their prescriptions, or invite them to special events or seminars
To impact patient experience, satisfaction, and engagement, it will be critical to concentrate on the tiny adjustments within the practice’s workflow that will have a significant impact on the patient.
2) Leverage Artificial Intelligence
Three-quarters of aging households are expected to adopt voice-assisted technology by 2020 making artificial intelligence (AI) the tech frontrunner to enhance patient engagement.
Not inconceivable is the presence of an Alexa like Bluetooth speaker running through exam rooms, performing like closed-loop HIPAA-compliant systems. Patients would be able to ask questions related to their file and diagnosis, change the TV channel or dim the lighting in the room.
Virtual reality (VR) can also drive patient engagement. Some hospitals in California are employing VR to show patients how specific brain surgeries will be performed, thus elevating patient satisfaction scores as well as reimbursements. There’s a real possibility of home care and wound care with patient and provider interacting one-on-one from different locations is just around the corner.
3) Remember who you are talking to
The language also has a great impact on patient engagement. Instead of focusing on “adherence and compliance,” the practice should try to discern the underlying social or environmental factors hindering a patient from complying with medical recommendations.
Why is a particular patient unable to comply? A practice must take the time to connect with and understand their patients. They need to have conversations, put themselves in their patients’ shoes, and then find methods to boost patient engagement and enhance overall patient satisfaction.
Roughly 40 million U.S. adults read at a junior high school level. However, most healthcare directions are written in much more complex language (usually in tiny fonts) which cause confusion and increase non-compliance, particularly among aging populations. To fully engage patients, practices must make sure they can comprehend the instructions we’re giving them.
What does it all mean?
At the end of the day, an engaged patient has superior outcomes, reduced costs of care, and greater satisfaction overall. The more a practice develops a culture beyond the clinical atmosphere to one that connects both patient and provider through a digital culture of wellness, communication and personalization, the more the patients and the practice will benefit.
Patients demand experiences be more custom to them, and one of the best ways to deliver is to keep them engaged outside of the office, leverage technology and utilize the proper language to drive your points and treatment plans home.