Enhancing Patient Experience: What Can Providers Do?

Patient experience is a fundamental part of their health care journey.

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In today’s competitive health care marketplace, patients are increasingly participating in their health care decisions. Patient experience is more critical than ever before. A satisfactory patient experience typically leads to better health outcomes, faster bill payment, and recommendations for the provider or facility. How can providers give patients a positive, memorable experience?

Why patient experience matters

Although a provider’s primary goal is to give the best possible medical care, they also need to address issues of patient experience. Patient experience encompasses all interactions with the provider, their staff, and the health care facility. Why is experience important? Because a patient’s experience — positive or negative — can affect their health outcomes.

Satisfied patients are more likely to have a positive outcome because they are more likely to follow doctors’ orders and return for scheduled follow-up appointments. Happier patients generally feel better overall because of the mind-body connection. Positive patient experience is also good for revenue. Satisfied patients are more likely to pay their bills quickly.

An optimal patient experience is good for business and provider reputation. Health care consumers often research providers and use online reviews, ratings, comments, and recommendations before they decide on a provider. Satisfied patients give more positive reviews.

Providing a satisfactory patient experience builds a positive relationship between provider and patient. And your patients want and deserve a good experience.

What patients want from their experience

Patient experience is not limited to the care received from doctors and staff. It extends to other things they value, such as easy and timely scheduling of appointments, easy access to pertinent information, and 2-way communication with providers and facilities.

To determine what patient’s value for a satisfactory experience, providers often rely on patient surveys to stay informed about what they’re doing right and where they need improvement.

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey is the industry’s gold standard when it comes to patient experience surveys. Given to a random sample of patients within 6 weeks of their discharge, the HCAHPS survey allows hospitals to compare patient experience data with other hospitals.

Every patient’s experience is different, and survey results will differ as well, some commonalities persist. According to Joe Greskoviak, president and COO at Press Ganey, “overall, patient satisfaction boils down to three points: communication, provider empathy, and care coordination.” Communication builds trust, empathy shows providers care, and coordination means providers work as a team for the benefit of their patients.

Enhancing the patient experience

Understanding why patient experience matters is only part of the equation. How does a provider guarantee the optimal patient experience? Here are a few tips and practices to engage with patients and provide positive experiences:

  • Interact with patients and their families before the first appointment. Learn their health care preferences. Use a digital portal to proactively educate and promote preventive care to avoid or delay disease onset and improve patient outcomes.
  • Patients want convenience. Offer online scheduling, flexible hours, and virtual visits.
  • Two-way communication is important. Patients want to understand provider instructions, but they also want to be heard. Use active listening, eye contact, and clear language to ensure patient understanding. Ask relevant questions to fully comprehend patient concerns.
  • Be transparent about costs and provide options whenever possible.
  • Ensure the health care environment is clean and comfortable.

Improving patient experience begins with collecting data and measuring current patient satisfaction. Pay attention to survey responses, social media comments, and online patient reviews for new perspectives on creating the best possible patient experience.

Written by Kelly Ryan
TruBridge Sr. Director, Revenue Cycle Solutions