Patient experience management guide

Learn how to design patient experience around the patient engagement journey. This will lower your patient acquisition costs.

Categorized as Guides
What is patient experience?

Patient experience of your healthcare system is what the patient experiences from the very first time the patient first comes in contact with your brand. This is not when the patient decides to make contact with your medical practice or health system. It begins when they first see your ad or business listing or blog post or social media posting.

Why invest in patient experience?

Simply put, better the patient experience, the higher your chances of:
– Better, more patient reviews. i.e. cheaper patient acquisition
– Higher chances of patient engagement in their own health. Therefore, more recall appointments rather than running after new appointments. i.e. lower marketing costs, higher life time value of patient, higher profits.
– Better chances of patient referrals to friends and family. Again, lower marketing spend.
– More likelihood of physician referrals due to better patient experience. aka, lower marketing expenses.

When a patient is delivered an exceptional experience, they are more prone to:
– Stay engaged with your practice
– Remain engaged in their own healthcare decisions and make more preventive appointments
– Stay loyal to your practice
– Show up for their appointments
– Refer more patients to you
– Leave positive reviews about you online that would lead to your brand reputation and your getting more patient bookings

Invest in this today, get rewarded tomorrow.

Are patient engagement and patient experience the same?

No. Patient engagement is a gauge of how engaged a patient is with their own healthcare. Population demographics typically play a big role into how engaged (or disengaged) a patient is or will be with their own care. Patient engagement is not something that you can really force on a patient. You can certainly aim to utilize all available tools for your patients to be more engaged with their own health. However, you cannot govern how your patient’s engagement in their own care is going to end up being.

What is patient engagement?

Patient engagement consists of 6 stages :
Research – In this stage a patient performs self-assessment of conditions and symptoms, leading to online research and education, posting questions etc.
Appointment – First point of contact for help. This includes a patient’s initial contact with your health system via your call center, email, mobile, etc. (i.e.,  Whom shall I contact? Where can I find it? How can I ask a proper question?).
Diagnosis: Assessment of their health condition. This is where a patient visits a medical facility to assess their health condition  (physician’s office, hospital, etc.).
Treatment: This includes on-site and follow-up care (medications, physical therapy, etc.).
Behavioral / Lifestyle Change: This refers to lifestyle change incorporated by the patient to reduce readmissions and promote proactive health. Patients take account of their own health such as dietary changes, exercise, taking medicines on time.
Ongoing Care / Proactive Health: This refers to ongoing care management between patient visits, fostering engagement between the patient & physician and enabling the patient to better manage their own care.

How are patient engagement and patient experience related?

Patient engagement is executed by the patient. Your healthcare system can influence the patient experience of your brand during the various steps of the patient engagement journey.
Each step of a patient engagement journey allows you to enrich a patient’s life and their journey. Each step affords you an opportunity to be the patient’s healthcare provider of choice.
As per a recent research by Accenture on 10,000 patients in 5 countries US, UK, France, Germany and Brazil, patients are still looking for quality services throughout the patient engagement journey. Below are the key findings from the research:
– 65% of all patients surveyed said that pretreatment is the most frustrating period for them.
– Less than one in five patients are aware of services available to them
– 58 % of patients use services when they are aware of them
– 79% of the respondents said that the services they used were “very” or “extremely” valuable
– 85% of patients wanted their healthcare professionals to be the point of contact for providing services to manage their condition

How to be part of the patient engagement journey

Research stage – You can be part of this stage with the SEO tips I shared here. This is where you and your brand are on top of patient’s mind.
Appointment stage – First point of contact for help. You can very much be a top contender here. Follow the best practices I have shared before about making it super easy to be in touch with you and your business.
Diagnosis: This is in the hands of your providers and their bedside manners. This is also dependent on your staff. Be careful and train your staff as well (front-desk and technicians).
Treatment: This is all in the hands of your providers.
Behavioral / Lifestyle Change: This is very much in your hands (patient education, adherence) and you can be part of this journey by staying in touch with the patient – there are many technological advancements that can help you do this at scale.
Ongoing Care / Proactive Health: Again this is very much in your hands as well and you can be part of your patient’s journey with the help of technology.

How to design patient experience for a healthcare system

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself or your leadership team while you design the patient experience:
– What do you want your patients to experience before they even contact you?
– What do you want your patients to perceive of your medical practice or brand before they decide to make the first call / click on the first book now button / first “request an appointment” form submission?
– Think about how you want the patient to experience your call center or your front desk when they call to make an appointment
– What about the patient experience when they submit a “Request an appointment” on your website?
– How do you want them to experience when they do land on your website?
– What should your patients experience when they click on a “Book now” button on facebook or google?
– What should the patients experience be after they book an appointment? Should they be asked to fill out their demographics information before they come into the practice? Should they fill that out in the waiting room?
– What would you like the patients to experience when they want to reschedule their appointment? Or cancel their appointment?
– What happens when your insurance eligibility team figures out that their insurance is not eligible on the date of visit? Do they cancel it or do they give the patients a heads up or do they work with the patient towards a middle ground or payment plan?
– How should the patient be treated / greeted when they come into your practice?
– How does the patient check in? Do they do it digitally or do they wait for the endless line at the front desk?
– What is to happen if the wait times are extending longer and the patient has another prior commitment?
– What happens when the patient does go into the work up room ? Do they go through the techs asking them for all their medications history or can the patient update this information while they are at home, before coming into the practice?
– How long of a wait time should patients be asked to bear after they have been “worked up” by your tech?
– How much time should your providers spend with your patients ? Should they be spending time looking at the EMR or should a scribe help them do so?
– How do the patients get an estimated cost of care so they can make decisions?
– How do the patients pay their copays? Do they pay cash or via credit card or can they avail care credit or other options?
– What happens to patients and what do they experience when there are patient bumps due to inevitable provider emergencies?
– Do patients get a satisfaction survey at the end of their appointment? Or are they asked to leave a review? How do they provide feedback to your practice?
– Do your patients automatically get a no show reminder to reschedule if they forgot to show up for their appointment? Do they have to pay if they cancel within 24 hours of the appointment?
– Are patients going to get automatic recall SMS if they have not come in for a preventive check up for 6 months?
– Do patients get a patient balance reminder if they have an outstanding balance due at your practice? Do they get a statement from you?
– How do they pay their balances? Do they pay via check or cash or credit card? Do they have to come in to the practice to pay or can they do so from their homes?

These are the things you need to think through when you are designing your patient’s experience with your brand and throughout their patient engagement journey with you and your practice.