Words like patient experience and patient engagement may have been casually flung around and even used interchangeably in the healthcare industry. But it is now more important than ever to know what they mean. Understanding these concepts will help you take your first step to building excellent patient experiences and ensuring patient satisfaction.
Let’s discuss this in a little more detail.
Defining Patient Engagement and Patient Experience
Patient engagement refers to an interaction of a patient with their health care provider in which the patient is actively involved in their own care.
Patient experience refers to the sum of all engagements a patient has at various touchpoints in a medical facility when seeking healthcare.
Understanding Patient Engagement and Patient Experience
Patient engagement is about enabling patients and their families to work actively with healthcare providers and supporters towards facilitating their own care. It is the willingness of patients to seek information and education so that they can be more involved in their treatment. Ultimately, the responsibility of enabling patients to mobilize their healthcare experience lies on the facility staff and healthcare experts.
On the other hand, patient experience is the outcome of all the interactions patients have at a facility. And this goes way beyond patients being engaged in their own care. Every interaction starting from booking an appointment to making payment at the time of discharge comes under the patient experience umbrella. As a result, medical professionals may have less control over patients’ experiences. Therefore, the onus of improving patient experiences lies on the management in addition to doctors.
Ways to Improve Patient Engagement
1. Offer Explanation
Often, patients may misunderstand recommendations and treatment because the medical professional failed to give a solid explanation. This can negatively affect patient experience and clinical outcomes. On the other hand, patients who were listened to and involved in their treatment adhere to medical recommendations according to a 2009 medical review. So, make sure that every patient leaves your facility with all the answers – why you’re taking a particular course of treatment, how long the treatment will be, and what the patient’s role is in the treatment.
2. Use Technology
Thanks to technology, you can now use health monitoring tools to measure patients’ health even after they are discharged. And not only is this data helpful for doctors, but it also keeps patients more in control of their health through timely checks and updates.
3. Hire Professional Staff
There are still many medical facilities today where receptionists are expected to answer patients' calls. While this may look like a great cost-saving option, ensuring an excellent patient experience will require you to invest in professional helpdesk service. Here's why you need professional helpdesk representatives:
- They can answer inter-departmental questions.
- They can focus solely on patients' concerns and ensure faster response and resolution.
- They can also contribute greatly to your facility's patient feedback program.
4. Send Follows-ups and Reminders
By sending reminders before appointments & routine tests and follow-ups after appointments and various treatment stages, you can communicate to your patients that you are actively involved in their healthcare. And this can significantly improve patient experience and increase their trust in you and your facility multifold.
Ways to Improve Patient Experience
1. Improve Staff Communication
Since patient experiences are no more just influenced by quality care, it is important to ensure comprehensive care, including ease of access, ease of payment, access to information, etc. Therefore, make sure your staff is prepared to assist patients at every step. Your staff members must be able to answer questions from patients regarding navigation to the facility, access to different departments, billing, health insurance, etc. While doctors and health professionals ensure excellent medical care, staff must be trained to perfect all facility or service-related interactions during a patient’s stay or visit to the hospital. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Ensure that the response time is minimized.
- Encourage collaboration among the staff members so that patient information is available at different touchpoints and they do not have to repeat themselves.
- Ensure that all feedback and patient concerns are actively taken into consideration while improving patient satisfaction.
2. Deliver Compassionate Care
Empathy is a critical component of exceptional patient care since patients battling an illness are their most vulnerable selves. In addition to great medical care, they expect the reassurance that they are not alone and that it would be alright. So, make sure that doctors and nurses in your facility understand patients and their dilemmas to be able to support them through the treatment. This human element can dramatically differentiate your facility from others.
3. Offer Payment Plans
With patients paying more and more out of their pockets for treatment, payment plans have become a necessity for a majority of them. You can tie up health insurance companies to generate beneficial healthcare plans or offer the flexibility in making payments in increments. This would allow your patients to seek necessary medical care without having to worry much about lengthy bills.
4. Stay Transparent
70% of patients want their health provider to clearly communicate finance-related information and insurance coverage details. Whether it’s a couple of charges in the final bill or certain side effects to treatment, make sure that you let your patients know about every possible outcome beforehand. Your patients shouldn’t have to worry about hidden charges or a surprise reaction to the treatment. Also, make sure that your staff is trained to explain health insurance coverage details to patients. Keeping every communication, treatment detail, and payment transaction transparent will help patients establish trust in your facility.
5. Ensure Excellent Hygiene
An excellent medical care facility is synonymous with hygiene. And when we talk about hygiene, it doesn’t only mean the cleanliness of patient wards but the cleanliness of common areas at the facility too, including washrooms, visitor’s lounge, reception, waiting area, etc. Make sure that there is sufficient staff in place to ensure the cleanliness of the entire facility at all times.
Patient Feedback – The key to Patient Engagement and Experience
A reliable and trustworthy hospital or medical facility is the one where patients are put first. No matter what you do, your priority should be ensuring patients’ ease and comfort. But how can you ever be certain that your efforts are aligned with patients’ expectations? The answer is simple – by asking patients what they expect.
Zonka Feedback patient survey tool is designed with all your feedback needs in mind. It enables you to create attractive and intelligent patient satisfaction surveys with an easy-to-use survey builder, and share them through different channels, such as SMS, email, mobile app, tablet, website, weblink, kiosk, live chat, and QR code.
Zonka Feedback enables you to:
- Conduct both inpatient and outpatient surveys.
- Create relevant surveys using customizable patient survey templates.
- Get real-time responses and keep your team in the loop.
- Set up custom alerts for the Patient Satisfaction team to resolve issues instantly.
- Get insightful patient feedback and track patient trends using reporting and analysis.
- Brand surveys to make them identifiable and increase the response rates.
Patient feedback surveys can directly contribute to your growth; all you need is a great feedback strategy and a strong team that can work consistently towards improving patient experience.