The patient experience matters—across the entire continuum of care

Dan Prince | Sep 12, 2018 Dan Prince 09/12/18

If you’ve seen a lot of stories about the “retailization” of healthcare recently, be aware that it’s more than just headline fodder—it’s the new reality in the healthcare industry. With the proliferation of health savings accounts and an exponential increase in retail clinic options, consumers are more in charge of their healthcare purchase decisions than ever. And with the rise of high-deductible plans, they’re being more judicious in making those decisions.

Of course, that paradigm shift is ushering in complex challenges for providers—most notably around how to deliver great experiences that drive loyalty. The Beryl Institute recently commissioned SMG to field an online survey to 2,000 patients across the U.S., U.K., Philippines, Canada, and Australia. Framed by an initial focus group study, the comprehensive research initiative surfaced critical insights by asking consumers directly about their experiences with healthcare providers.

This first in a three-part blog series outlines why shifting consumer mindsets have presented healthcare organizations with a clear ultimatum: make the patient experience (PX) a priority or risk losing loyalty.

PX is top of mind for just about everyone—across the continuum of care

If you’re facing an uphill battle to get your organization invested in PX as a strategic endeavor, here are some stats that should do the heavy lifting: 91% of respondents rated PX as extremely or very important, and 8% rated it as somewhat important. That means failing to factor PX into each and every decision makes it harder to connect with the 99% of people letting experiential considerations impact their healthcare decisions.  

Patient Experience Chart

And it’s not just primary care doctors and hospitals facing these rising expectations. While the level of importance varies across service type, respondents reported PX playing a key role in every healthcare decision—whether it’s insurance providers, senior living centers, pharmacies, or any other type of healthcare service.

PX is an all-encompassing concept that touches every part of your organization

It’s worth stepping back for a moment to actually define the patient experience before fully exploring its implications. While the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “patient experience” may be the doctor’s bedside manner or how much time you spent in the waiting room, the truth is that’s oversimplifying things to a significant degree. Respondents made it loud and clear they see the patient experience as the intersection point for every element they encounter, from outcomes to costs to how employees engage with them as well as their family and friends.

Patient Experience Web

That means a PX program that gets siloed in one department and operates in a vacuum is unlikely to move the needle in any meaningful way. To drive impact across the organization, it takes a truly cross-functional effort.

Patients want to be treated as multifaceted individuals

Just like the experience is composed of several interconnected components, patients perceive those experiences through different, though similarly interconnected, lenses.

As patients, their health and well-being mean a great deal, and they want their physical needs to be taken care of. Most importantly, they believe good patient experiences contribute to good healthcare outcomes.

As people, they want and deserve to be respected, which means addressing and treating them as a person instead of a symptom, diagnosis, or disease. How they’re treated on each and every visit impacts their next healthcare decision.

As consumers, they value their time and money and see themselves as customers who can take their business elsewhere if necessary.

Every single patient who walks through your doors comes with a unique set of medical histories, health concerns, and service expectations. The better you’re able to recognize and address them as individuals, the more successful you’ll be in providing them with appropriate treatment—and the more likely they will be to follow that treatment plan.

Adopting a more patient-centric approach

With consumers transitioning toward a consumer mindset, it’s no surprise healthcare providers are beginning to take a retail approach to PX measurement. Having entered the healthcare space in 2011 with a ratings and review site based on patient surveys, SMG uses its robust data collection, analytics, and reporting technology to help organizations listen and act on real-time PX feedback.

To learn more about adapting to the modern healthcare landscape, download the full report: 3 healthcare trends that will help you improve the patient experience

Dan Prince | VP, Customer Engagement

Customer Experience Update