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Cracking the Patient Experience Conundrum

Editor note: This blog was originally posted on CX Cafe’. 

The Innovative Approach to Amplifying the Patient Experience

Providing a patient experience that exceeds expectations has become increasingly important within the healthcare industry. Many patient experience programs struggle due to the inability to effectively measure the patient journey, the lack of flexibility in data collection and internal reporting, and inadequate action plans.

To break the mold when it comes to surveying your patients, InMoment (formerly MaritzCX) has leveraged decades of customer experience best practices and healthcare insight to build a more effective, all-inclusive patient experience platform that will help you overcome these challenges.

As experts in the world of customer experience, we know the types of experiences people want to have. We want to help you translate lessons learned from leading customer brands into better patient experiences.

Patients as Consumers

To excel, healthcare organizations must start considering patients from a more consumer-oriented mindset. Patients have more insight into the experiences healthcare organizations provide, more choice in where they receive care, and more influence when it comes to sharing their experiences than ever before. Organizations can’t stick to the status quo and expect to maintain or improve their patient experience scores.

Patient expectations are shaped in many ways. Not only will direct experiences impact whether individuals return to a certain provider or continue to explore their options, but the experiences of those around them—and even strangers—impact their perception of a healthcare organization.

Technology also influences patient expectations for their visit, as they can more effectively and efficiently research treatment options and develop opinions before ever meeting with a healthcare professional.

With all of these factors guiding patient decisions, more than ever before the healthcare industry must consider their approach to the patient experience in a new light.

In this blog, we will address 4 patient conundrums:

  • Overcoming common patient experience challenges
  • Creating an employee-centered approach
  • Using the data you have to fully understand patient experiences
  • Identifying best practices for patient experience excellence

1. Common Patient Experience Challenges

In healthcare, patients interact with many different departments and individuals.  There are multiple touchpoints along every patient’s full healthcare journey. Each touchpoint helps the patient form opinions about their overall experience.

Organizations that are not putting their effort towards finding innovative ways to listen to and act upon feedback in real-time miss key opportunities to influence patients at various touchpoints along the way.

Some common problems we see in patient experience measurement programs include:

  • Limited and inflexible patient survey options
  • Lack of ability to understand the full patient journey
  • Not listening to employees or sharing patient feedback with them
  • Inability to take action and make changes in real-time on patient feedback
  • Inability to view feedback and data, and to use it effectively to drive decisions
  • Disconnected organizational and patient experience metrics
  • Patients not informed that their feedback is being used to make changes

Break down the challenges one step at a time.

 

2. Creating an Employee-centered Approach

Employees have direct interactions with patients regularly and often have key insight into what impacts the patient experience. Their insights can unlock an understanding of the patient experience and can fill in the gaps that surveys miss. However, employees often do not get to share their experiences and input.

It is important to regularly survey employees and give them opportunities to speak about needed improvements, offer suggestions, or celebrate and praise their coworkers. Many healthcare organizations are overlooking this source of knowledge and should develop a thorough plan to create a patient-centric culture and a two-way communication plan.

Here are a few ways we’re seeing our clients do this today that can easily be translated to a healthcare environment:

  • Regularly survey employees and request feedback and opinions
  • Check employee feedback with consumer feedback for deeper insight
  • Let employees know they are valued
  • Understand employees’ goals and how the organization can help them achieve these goals
  • Ensure all employees know what patients are saying and requesting
  • Provide awareness, training, and regular communication, as well as opportunity for growth

Know and use what your employees know.

 

3. Leveraging Data to Achieve Goals

Data is obviously the key ingredient for understanding and improving patients’ experiences—but only if you can combine it, analyze it, and apply it directly to meaningful improvements. In the healthcare industry, incredibly rich sources of data are waiting in various safety, quality, point-of-care, operational, and employee systems, but all that information is locked inside protected, regulated silos where it services a narrow purpose that is completely disconnected from patient experience concerns.

This inevitably leaves you with a narrow, incomplete view that limits your ability to understand the complete patient experience, identify issues quickly, and make targeted improvements.

The success of a patient experience program is ultimately determined by the quality and variety of data you collect, your capacity to combine and analyze it, and your ability to turn it directly into meaningful improvements at the organizational level. Using the right technology platform and designing a patient experience program is essential to getting the most from your data.

There are many other ways that healthcare organizations can use technology to gather additional data points and interact with patients, including video and audio feedback methods, social media, website intercept, QR codes, or patient portals. With a dynamic design approach to surveying patients, more people will be reached in mediums they feel comfortable with.  And the more data you have, the better able you’ll be to understand the true drivers of the patient experience.

Treat your data like you treat your patients.

 

4. Customer Experience Best Practices to Measure the Patient Journey

Below are some proven best practices from the customer experience world that can revitalize patient experience programs:  

Understand What Impacts Customer/Patient Satisfaction 

A key success factor to improving customer satisfaction is your ability to identify the things that are most important to your customer’s satisfaction. This may take a bit of work, and you may not have an in-house analyst who can model your data. But your CX partner should be able to provide these insights to you. It is well worth the investment to know what has direct impact on your customers’ satisfaction.

Monitor Results

Whatever you chose as your satisfaction metric, you will have a score. Knowing your score is good, but the score isn’t actually the be-all end-all. You need to understand how your score changes over time. Is customer satisfaction improving or declining? Is a low score one month just a blip on the radar, or, is there a downward trend in customer satisfaction? In either case, consider, what is driving that change in score? Does your program help you understand that?

Take Action

Once you know the behaviors that result in delighted patients, look back at your performance to understand how you are doing in those areas, and take action – train your employees, create incentive plans, hold staff accountable, and change policies that don’t work for patients.

Start Creating a World-class Patient Experience Program 

Innovative healthcare organizations are moving towards a more personalized, immediate approach that works to collect real-time feedback from patients. These more advanced and personalized survey methods are common in the customer world, but they have not been used as much in healthcare. And they have the potential to add tremendous depth and value to CAHPS and the other survey tools healthcare organizations depend on today.

InMoment is the world’s only full-service customer and patient experience company that combines technology, data, and specialized expertise to make sure the right people in your organization can understand and respond to every customer and patient experience in real time.