Consumer / Employer, MedCity Influencers, Hospitals

How healthcare organizations can listen and adapt in the era of “patient empowerment”

Patient expectations are drastically changing due to the pandemic, access to technology and generational preferences. By actively listening to patients and drawing on data healthcare organizations already have, it’s possible to personalize experiences and improve care delivery.

As healthcare organizations embrace the value-based care model and see patients as customers, they can learn from the precedent set in other industries.

A vast amount of information lies within the data healthcare organizations currently have that can be leveraged to personalize experiences and improve care delivery. Additionally, patient expectations are drastically changing due to the pandemic, access to technology and generational preferences.

By actively listening to patients, uncovering experience gaps, and understanding how expectations differ by segment and patient population, you can tailor engagement to the individual and ensure positive outcomes. We’ve found these are best practices that translate between the customer experience and patient experience.

Activate your existing data and unlock hidden insights 

Truly innovative organizations that are embracing customer or patient centricity know that simply monitoring or understanding patient preferences is not enough.

Organizations outside of healthcare excel by harnessing existing data to segment their customers and reallocate resources to improve service. Borrowing a concept from the customer experience, journey mapping allows you to understand experiences through the customer’s eyes. You need to know what the customer is trying to accomplish and ask yourself, “How are we meeting that need now and where do we want to be?”

Choose your focus area and outline all of the checkpoints patients deem impactful, then map your experience and segmentation data. Once you understand your current state, you can work towards a desired future state, see where you’re overinvesting and improve areas that matter most to patients.

Think of the patient experience holistically

It’s easy to think of the patient experience solely as when the patient is in a hospital bed receiving care, but it goes far beyond that.

This extends to when a patient is booking an appointment, en route, thinking about where to park, in the waiting room, being transferred from one unit to another, awaiting the results of an exam, and even when the patient leaves the hospital or doctor’s office and the follow-up they receive.

A positive experience depends on so many additional factors, small moments and stakeholders beyond the doctors or nurses at the bedside. Engaging patients before, during and after an encounter is key to understand what patients are going through, so you can tailor your processes and communication.

Savvy organizations know that patients form opinions and develop trust before an encounter even starts. Some organizations leverage software to understand patient feedback around first impressions, care transitions and discharge communication, so they can perform service recovery and solve problems before the patient has left. This communication improves experiences and prevents unexpected negative comments from surfacing in reviews or post-discharge surveys.

Sending immediate post-discharge surveys can help providers fill in the gaps that traditional surveys miss by asking not only questions relevant to your initiatives, but also those that are relevant to a patient’s demographics and care journey. This can include provider-specific feedback, patient-reported outcomes, and care reminder communication to increase compliance with medication and home care.

Personalized engagement at the right time is an opportunity for healthcare organizations to foster loyalty, decrease churn and impact the bottom line.

Work to understand “the why behind the what” to focus time and resources

Flexible tools let you dig deeper to understand what’s actually impacting experiences to uncover the “why behind the what.”

So often organizations receive good or bad survey scores with no clear understanding of why. It’s important to know how these connect with providers or operational improvements. Reporting that includes correlation analysis helps organizations understand what levers to pull to impact change.

With flexible tools that can dig into areas of interest, organizations often find simple opportunities they hadn’t considered before.

Stay agile with real-time data to evaluate changes

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, patient experiences have objectively changed in hospitals. For example, stricter visitation policies mean fewer loved ones are able to come into the hospital room to provide support and hear the care plan or discharge instructions.

It’s important to engage patients to make sure they feel comfortable at discharge and provide an opportunity for additional questions. Patients’ expectations around safety, technology and communication have changed since the start of the pandemic, which means the processes and operational workflows of the care team must also change.

Real-time engagement helps track and uncover how patients feel about these changes and identify additional gaps and opportunities. The pandemic highlighted that successful organizations across industries must stay agile and prioritize the voice of the customer more intently than ever before.

Photo: designer491, Getty Images

Paul is the Founding CEO and Chief Strategy Officer of Feedtrail Inc., a healthcare software company based in Raleigh, NC, that uses in-the-moment patient feedback and advanced analytics to empower healthcare teams to deliver world-class care and ensure patient and employee satisfaction. Feedtrail works with healthcare organizations in all 50 U.S. states and in 36 other countries worldwide. In 2018, Paul was named as one of the 30 Rising Customer Experience Super Stars under 30 (CX 30 Under 30) by CX Network.

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