As the healthcare system is shifting its focus to value-based care and more patients are paying for their treatments out-of-pocket, medical practices need to optimize the patient experience and improve patient outcomes to attract and retain more patients.
Patients now expect a healthcare experience akin to their interactions with other consumer brands or services. The ability to provide an outstanding patient experience will be the key to increasing revenue for healthcare providers in the years to come.
What’s the Patient Experience?
The patient experience encompasses the many interactions patients have with the healthcare system (e.g., health plans, doctors, nurses, front-office staff). It covers various aspects like healthcare quality, patient satisfaction, health outcomes, and convenience of care.
To ensure a satisfactory patient experience, healthcare providers need to focus on more than what happens when patients are in their facilities. The interactions before and after the treatments make a big difference in how patients perceive their experience with your practice and will influence their decision to return to your facility.
Key Strategies for Improving the Patient Experience
The various factors that can impact the patient experience include care quality, patient safety, appointment scheduling, patient communications, and billing.
Here’s how to use patient-centered care tactics to augment the patient experience, increase patient satisfaction, improve retention rates, and boost your revenue:
Focus on Patient Consumerism
Today’s patients demand a healthcare experience that’s similar to a retail experience. For example, they want to be treated with respect, be in control of their treatments, and feel comfortable during the time they spend in a medical facility.
In addition, patients want to get the care they need when they need it and in a format most convenient for them, for example by having access to their providers via email, phone calls, or video conferencing. Many also prefer to manage their relationships with healthcare providers through a self-service online portal the same way they can manage their Amazon orders with just a few clicks.
Improve Patient Communications
Good communications between patients and providers help reduce errors, improve patient safety, facilitate healthcare outcomes, and minimize frustration due to misunderstandings.
As more patients are responsible for a larger portion of their healthcare bills, it’s crucial that you review the treatment plans and financial responsibilities with them before starting treatment. You can also share new offerings or special announcements via email or as a patient statement insert to keep your patients in the loop.
Streamline Appointment Scheduling
A convoluted appointment setting process is often a major cause of frustration that can negatively impact the patient experience. It may even discourage patients from scheduling follow-up appointments, which can, in turn, affect patient outcomes.
To streamline the patient experience and increase convenience while relieving the workload of your front-office staff, you can use an online platform for patients to schedule appointments. Further, you can send communications via email or text to get patients to set up follow-up visits or remind them of an upcoming appointment to reduce no-shows and improve patient outcomes.
Improve Cost Transparency
Financial costs associated with treatments are one of the major stressors for many patients. Research says that 70% of patients who face financial barriers demand better cost transparency in their treatments.
Help patients understand their financial obligations before starting treatment and offer payment plans to alleviate their financial burden while encouraging them to make timely payments. You can also incorporate a section in your patient statement that displays their insurance coverage and responsibilities.
Streamline Invoicing and Payment
As patients are responsible for a larger portion of their medical bills, you need to make it easy for them to send payments so you can increase collection rates and improve cash flow.
You can outsource your billing, statement printing, and mailing process to a trusted service provider to reduce costs and ensure that statements are sent out promptly. Also, allow patients to opt for electronic statements via email to further increase convenience, lower costs, and shorten your billing cycle.
Use a patient-friendly statement design to help patients understand their treatment costs and responsibilities so they don’t need to spend time calling your office, which also tends to delay payment and increase your cost.
Additionally, consumers are used to paying their bills online and expect such convenience from their healthcare providers. Use a medical payment solution that enables patients to make payments via mobile devices, web-portal, phone, or text. You can also provide added convenience with a card-on-file feature to facilitate recurring payments.
How to Deliver a Patient-Centric Healthcare Experience
Here’s how to design a strategy and implement the patient-centric tactics to deliver an outstanding patient experience:
- Launch an initiative with clear goals and objectives that are shared among physicians, nurses, front-office staff, and other team members.
- Cultivate a patient-centric culture and engage key stakeholders when implementing your program to ensure that you’re delivering a consistent patient experience at every touchpoint.
- Gather patient input (e.g., through a survey or one-on-one interviews) to identify key improvements and prioritize your initiatives.
- Select technologies that work with your current systems and workflows to deliver the intended patient experience most cost-effectively.
- Determine what success looks like and set KPIs so you can measure the right metrics, gauge the effectiveness of your program, and fine-tune your strategy.
If you want to stand out from your competitors, attract more patients, improve cash flow, and increase revenue, you need to focus on more than treating patients when they’re in your medical facility.
A streamlined and satisfactory patient experience encompasses your patients’ interactions with your practice before and after their treatments. It’s the key to building trust and relationships with patients so they’ll return to your facility and tell others about your services—which is the key to success in today’s competitive healthcare industry.
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