Patients have spoken: People + processes matter more than facilities

Dan Prince | Nov 1, 2018 Dan Prince 11/01/18

The healthcare industry is rapidly changing, and patients are the driving force. Consumers are now applying retail behavior to healthcare. A 2017 study published by The Beryl Institute found that as many as 65% of American consumers are in the market for a new physician. Establishing loyal patients who return to and recommend your organization is key to building a lasting competitive advantage.

The Beryl Institute recently commissioned SMG to field an online survey to 2,000 consumers in the U.S., U.K., Philippines, Canada, and Australia. Framed by an initial focus group study, this comprehensive research initiative surfaced critical insights by asking a wide range of individuals directly about their experiences with healthcare providers.

We previously explored why healthcare organizations need to make the patient experience (PX) a priority. Now we’ll dig into what matters most to patients.

Invest in people to win with patients

What matters most to you, when you think about an interaction with a provider, such as a doctor or a nurse? Check out these numbers, which show how many consumers considered this human factor as very important.

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Consumers rated the importance of 29 factors in this study. The highest-rated items revolve around how they were treated and how well their providers communicated with them. Now, that’s not to say your facility doesn’t matter—patients still have high standards when it comes to their physical environment. But it’s clear providers need to put a special emphasis on investing in their staff. People and their specific behaviors have the biggest impact on PX, so make sure your improvement strategy starts there.

Keep your strategy consistent across generations

Priorities remain mostly the same across age groups. Generations may have their differences, but when it comes to PX, they mostly agree on what matters most—meaning you don’t have to right-size your strategy for different demographics.

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And what’s the most important thing to patients of every age? Being heard. Communication is crucial and can be more complex than people think. It is so much more than a regurgitation of information, especially when it comes to healthcare. Patients are often in a vulnerable situation and need to feel like they are being treated with an extra dose of attention, courtesy, and respect. A good PX feedback program helps organizations grasp just how well patients feel understood.

Drive employee engagement + increase patient loyalty

Person-to-person interactions are a top driver of the overall experience. And when your teams are engaged, they deliver better patient experiences—and patient recommendations increase. Investing in top-performing staff and building a patient-centric culture has a strong financial impact.

Be sure your performance criteria align with what patients value most. Put an emphasis on training around communication best practices. Just as important: put a measurement system in place to monitor and improve employee engagement over time.

The bottom line

PX is the totality of all the interactions consumers have with the various aspects of their patient journey. How are your teams handling billing questions and appointment changes? How good are they at delivering bad news? Do they seem sincerely interested in the patient’s goals as well as their condition? With stressful jobs and long hours, your staff plays the most important role in determining your patient experience—and whether those patients will return and recommend you.

To learn more, download the full report: 3 healthcare trends that will help you improve the patient experience.

Dan Prince | VP, Customer Engagement
Customer Experience Update