What makes the experience of a patient good – really?

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Some time ago, I discussed the topic of patient experience with my colleague Daniel Lind who’s been analyzing customer journeys at hospitals in several countries. The summary and conclusion of that discussion is the topic of this blog post.

To begin with, is there such a thing as good patient experience? Isn’t really just levels of bad experience? After all, you are normally there for a serious reason, being ill, being a patient. And then, crowded clinics and hospitals struggling to provide the care you need with a less and less staff. Surely, having a great experience isn’t what comes to mind when visiting the doctor.

Spending cutbacks and a growing number of patients are driving the need for efficiency gains as well as revenue increase for clinics and hospitals.

This often brings that the commitment to making the experience of patients excellent, is not widespread and change is sometimes slow. A widely held belief has even been that providing good patient experiences is ‘nice but too expensive’ or ‘nice but not necessary’. That perception is however changing, and in many regions changing rapidly, as patients have options in their choice of healthcare provider.

So, delivering a good experience for all patients is of course not a brand new concept. Even the insight that the experience of a patient is not just the result of the clinical outcome, is not new.

However, improving the patient’s experience is easier said than done.

To start with, the processes in patient care are very complex. The patient’s entire journey has to be in focus, especially in a multi-discipline environment like an Outpatient Clinic. From entry, reception through to treatment and back, all parts of the patient journey are important, and not just the medical procedures.

If their movement from one service to another is not well managed or communicated, the patient can be left feeling overwhelmed, lost and frustrated.

The experience is determined by the way staff interacts with the patients and how they feel about the care they receive.

Making the visit as secure, relaxed and comfortable as possible is important to achieving a positive patient experience. The way nurses and physicians communicate, waiting times; the waiting room atmosphere, privacy and the process itself are some of the factors that affect the patient’s overall experience.

For example, recent studies show that up to 65% of patient’s rate waiting times in clinics as unsatisfactory (McCarthy, McGee, & O’Boyle). The concern is of course that this waiting will result in patient dissatisfaction with the visit as a whole. So, finding ways to reduce waiting time is important. With the right approach, taking both actual and perceived waiting time into consideration, you can enhance the patient experience.

Understanding and managing the complete patient journey is key in delivering improved patient experience in healthcare

What about patients’ privacy requirements for example?

Well, what do you think?

Sven-Olof Husmark
Sven-Olof is the founder of Experify, a business consultant firm, Senior Advisor at Egain Group a pioneer in intelligent AI driven energy optimization of buildings and former CMO at Qmatic Group, a world leader in creating better customer journeys.Sven-Olof is a senior executive with demonstrated success in growing companies globally by initiating effective sales, marketing and customer service strategies.

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