The Importance of Patient Experience
Patients who are not satisfied with their healthcare experience, are more likely to never visit the healthcare organization again or recommend others to visit. Not only can this hurt business outcomes, but it can also negatively affect the long-term clinical outcomes of patients. However, enhancing the patient experience means more than just providing exceptional medical care. An effective patient experience requires staff to address every aspect of the care journey, including physical comfort, understanding of the process, and emotional needs.
10 Key Strategies to Improve Patient Experience
The first step in providing better care delivery is to focus on patient-centered care. Healthcare organizations can follow these simple strategies to improve patient experience:
1. Minimize wait times
Long wait times are a common complaint from patients. To improve patient experience, it is important to have a system of guidelines in place to avoid overbooking providers. However, if appointments are running behind, be sure to provide regular updates. It is better to let patients know that an emergency has caused a 15-minute delay in the schedule than to leave them guessing when they will be admitted.
2. Ensure a clean environment
Bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other harmful pathogens can cause healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) when spread. Avoid the spread by practicing hand hygiene and maintaining a safe and sanitary environment from the waiting room to the physician’s office.
3. Make waiting areas comfortable
High noise levels and uncomfortable seating can be a distraction to patients whose anxieties may be high. Removing unnecessary noise sources, providing comfortable chairs, charging stations, and snacks can go a long way in making patients feel comfortable.
4. Minimize paperwork
Avoid having patients provide the same information over and over again before their appointment. If they have already uploaded the necessary documents online, have patients confirm the information in the system, rather than make them fill out multiple forms in the waiting room.
5. Involve patients in their own care
Receiving medical care is often stressful for many patients. Providers can ease this stress by making sure the patient has a clear understanding of what will be happening during their visit. Patients are more likely to feel safe and satisfied when they receive clear instructions regarding next steps and information about their care team.
6. Request verbal understanding
When the visit is over, ask if the patient is comfortable with the recommended treatment plan. Ask if they have any other concerns or questions. To avoid any unnecessary harm, it is important that the patient understands the offered advice and how to use any prescribed medications.
7. Demonstrate empathy and compassion
Make the patient believe you care. A provider should recognize a patient’s emotions when making care decisions and reflect these emotions back to the patient. A patient is much more likely to accept your recommendations if they believe they are receiving compassionate patient-centered care.
8. Encourage employee engagement
Engaged employees lead to safer and happier patients. To improve the patient experience, the organizations must utilize the right tools and employees who know how to use them. Effective employee engagement initiatives can include enhancing facility design, adding new equipment and resources, and reinforcing employee training.
9. Evaluate the system as a whole
Wrongdoings are almost always the result of system failures. Therefore, its important to avoid placing blame on individuals. Practice defining gaps in system processes by encouraging staff to report incidents of patient harm. This will allow leadership teams to form quick corrective plans for action to improve outcomes.
10. Use innovative technology
Technology is revolutionizing the patient experience. Having a centralized electronic solution for communication between staff allows for a smoother care delivery process. Incident reporting systems with EHR integration eliminate the need for unreliable and time-consuming paper forms. Additionally, patients can scan QR codes to provide feedback that alerts a staff member in real-time to follow up before the patient leaves their visit.
Improve Health Outcomes
Patients with better experiences have better health outcomes. Following a system of simple strategies to improve patient experience can help extend your healthcare organization’s reach while also ensuring patients feel safe and satisfied.