Redefining the Patient Experience at the First Point of Contact


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When does Patient Care start?

In the past, when we thought about patient care, we thought of the actual provider visit with the patient.  We know now that the patient experience begins much earlier than that.  It begins with the first point of contact with the provider. According to Marty Hudson at MedicalGPS:

“[I]]mproving the patient’s experience starts where the patient starts, either on the phone making an appointment, or walking into the doctor’s office. This ‘first point of contact’ sets the stage, and possibly the expectation, for the entire patient experience. To improve the patient experience health systems must first improve the care and compassion for the patient, beginning with the first point of contact.”

Putting Patients First

The mission of healthcare systems is to serve patients. Besides the financial ramifications of HCAHPS and CAHPS scores, according to The White House Office of Consumer Affairs, dissatisfied patients will tell 9-15 people about their negative experience, while about 13 percent will tell more than 20 people. Do the math – healthcare systems that don’t view patient satisfaction as a high priority need to do so immediately.

How a patient is treated, the ease of making an appointment, and the ability to make an appointment with the right doctor, at the right location, at the right time impacts a patient’s opinion of your health system even before they step foot in the door.

First Point of Contact

Deloite’s 2013 study, The Patient Experience Strategies and Approaches for Providers to Achieve and Maintain a Competitive Advantage, states that as health care delivery becomes more competitive, health care providers would be wise to consider shifting their focus to attracting and retaining patients. Patients have more choice of hospitals and information available to them now than ever before, and they are increasingly acting as consumers. This makes gaining customer loyalty as important as managing costs and revenues, and hospitals should innovate to retain customers and maintain profitability. Making a strategic choice to provide patients with the best experience is a proactive and sustainable way to create competitive advantage in this dynamic marketplace.

While this strategic decision can positively impact the financial health of the organization, for most systems, making this decision a reality is not without significant effort. This effort, for all health systems begins with the first point of contact – the patient. As you develop your patient engagement strategy, you should be asking yourself how you communicate with patients and how consistent are these interactions. Some examples of communication options and possible challenges are:

1. Your patient calls you to schedule a routine physical

  • Are calls being promptly answered?
  • Is staff knowledgeable and able to meet the patient’s needs?
  • Is the appropriate amount of empathy being displayed?
  • Is the patient’s issue addressed during the initial call?

2.   A parent is on your website and enables a chat session to discuss appointment options for their child

  • Are chat messages being promptly responded to?
  • Is staff displaying an empathetic attitude toward the patient?
  • Is staff knowledgeable and able to meet the patient’s needs?
  • Are patient issues resolved during the chat session?

3. A busy professional is at work and wants to schedule an online appointment

  • Is your site easily accessible?
  • Is your site is patient friendly?
  • Does your site include location information, hours of operation and open appointment times?
  • Can patients schedule an appointment during their first visit to your site?

These are just a few of the many communication options, but, as you can see, there are consistencies among all touch points. Aspect can help you create more consistent patient touch points with Aspect Patient Connect, a purpose-built solution that improves your patient’s experience before they even walk into your office. Starting with their first interaction, patients have access to physicians at any location within your health care network. During interactions, employees are empowered with a 360-degree patient view that makes for an informed and productive conversation. Notes can be easily entered within the same patient record that is visible on their screen for capturing important information shared on the call. If your patient needs to be transferred to another clinician or specialist – no problem. You can easily view who is available before transferring the call (complete with notes), without manually searching directories for the correct extension. Confidently transfer the call to the right person with the right skill set who can efficiently handle the situation.

Learn more about how Aspect Patient Connect can help. You only have one opportunity to make a great first impression.  Make it count!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kathleen Schroeder
Kathleen Schroeder, Senior Product Marketing Specialist, has over 25 years' experience representing the voice of the customer through global event presentations, webinars and integrated multi-national campaigns for numerous verticals ranging from education to transportation and tourism to telecommunications. Kathleen creates customer-facing programs and content to bring the value of next generation customer contact solutions to various market segments.


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