5 Steps to Improve Patient Experience

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For most medical professionals in Canada, Patient Care tops the list of priorities in their work. With Patient Experience becoming a key differentiator in Canadian Healthcare, today’s physicians must continue to deliver a quality standard of care but also make the patient’s perception of that care a top priority. The reality is that patients now have a similar level of expectation from healthcare providers than they do of non-healthcare related companies. If you aren’t focused on your Patient Experience, your competitor may be and you’ll soon be losing market share.

Why is Patient Experience Important?

While undoubtedly Patient Experience should be a priority across healthcare, it is most critical to success in delivering private sector services. Private sector healthcare is a marketplace like any other where customers can choose how they spend their money. As in any other industry, consumers will switch providers if they don’t feel that their needs are being met. This can often be a challenging shift in mindset for physicians who have been trained in a publicly funded healthcare system.

Consumers are as likely to switch healthcare providers as they are hotels if the service is poor.
— Accenture Study

Very little Canadian data exists on Patient Experience, however our neighbours to the south have conducted plenty of research to show that there is a vast discrepancy between the level of experience that healthcare providers think they are providing and how it is being perceived by patients.

Research by Prophet found that while 63 percent of health care organizations believe they are delivering on patient care, only 43 percent of patients actually agree and in fact 81 percent of consumers are unsatisfied with their health care experience.

A 2017 Kaufman, Hall & Associates Report from the US found that only 8 percent of health care organizations consider consumer expectation a high priority and have implemented strategies to address.

Patients are just like customers in any other industry. They want responsiveness and convenience without compromising quality. No longer can we take patients for granted. We need to start treating them as our valued customers.

 

5 Steps to Address Patient Experience

STEP 1: Gather Insights

Learn from your existing practice and its patients. Consider what your patients want and need. What might currently patients find difficult about interacting with your clinic? How do existing patients think their experience could be improved? What are your online reviews (yes those matter even in healthcare) saying about your business? Map our your customer’s journey to ensure that you are understanding every nuance of their interactions with your business.

           

STEP 2: Brand Promise

Your promise tells patients what they can expect when visiting your clinic. As a business, what is the promise that you make to patients and staff about what you will deliver? What would your staff say they are committed to delivering to patients? Go back to basics and determine what is important. What your patients expect and what your staff believe they are delivering need to line up. How can you simplify the messaging so that all parties are on the same page?

 

STEP 3: Design Your Patient Experience

Using the insights gained and the promise you are making around patient experience, what are the critical touch points that you want to deliver upon? What are the key priorities for your business? How will you interact with patients before, during and after treatment? Is there any difference between the non-clinical and clinical phases of the experience.

 

STEP 4: Align Your Business

Understanding your brand promise and designing the experience your patients will have does nothing if it isn’t integrated across your entire business. All departments need to be involved in refocusing the business around patient-centricity. It must become a part of your culture. Are there operational processes that are getting in the way of the patient experience? How can you make things easier for patients? Is it online appointment booking? Payments? Wait times? How do you ensure that staff are consistently making patient experience a priority? What measures and touch points are you including to ensure you are maximizing your time with patients?

 

STEP 5: Measure

How is patient feedback changing? What can you learn from your new processes? How can you continue to improve and implement a culture of continuous improvement?

In Conclusion

While it can require a shift in mindset to refocus a business around patient-centricity, an improvement in Patient Experience can have a profound effect on your bottom line. A commitment to care that is supported by staff and felt by patients can lead to happier employees and more loyal patients. In 2019, Patient Experience is the single most effective way to grow a Canadian practice and ensure the longevity of your business.  

It can often be easiest to implement a Patient Experience Strategy with help from outside consultants who take an objective view of your business and are better able to see things from a patient’s perspective. We’re always here to help with vast experience in providing a high-level service and proven success in transforming patient experience.