As a healthcare provider, you want to deliver a great patient experience; as a patient, you expect it. But, what exactly is a great patient experience and how do you, as the provider, make sure you’re providing it? The truth is it’s a mix of practical strategies and new technology. By considering traditional engagement strategy alongside next-generation technologies, you can deliver the best in healthcare experience and make sure your patients not only come back, but refer your practice to others.
Frankly, it starts with first contact and if that initial engagement is pleasant, you’ve started out on the right foot. From there, it’s all about maintaining a patient-first mentality with every patient. With the latest technology, it should be easy to make every patient feel like the center of attention.
Here are some ways healthcare providers can use technology to deliver an exceptional experience.
Scheduling and Reminders
While most people start with a phone call (and some will always prefer the more traditional option), setting up an online scheduling system can make the process faster and simpler, especially for the many people today who prefer self-service options. You will still have plenty of call-ins, but a growing percentage of the population prefers online options to traditional methods. Even for some who prefer to call to set up an initial appointment, a web portal provides an easy opportunity to change or cancel, if needed.
Reminders are another easy way to provide convenient information using patients’ preferred communications methods. Some prefer email, others text messages, and some still like the good old telephone. Today’s technology allows providers to send reminders using any of these, based on each patient’s preferences.
Follow-up and Ongoing Consultation
Many follow-up consultations don’t require a patient to make another trip to the office, if caregivers are able to communicate with them. Telehealth technologies are becoming increasingly popular and are eliminating the need for many in-office follow-up procedures. Many patients will still prefer to go to the office, but the virtual follow-up trend was already evident a few years ago. A study conducted at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical Center with 50 patients who had undergone uncomplicated surgeries indicated that more than three-quarters of them preferred online follow-up. In addition to enabling the same level of care, telehealth reduces the time for follow-up visits by up nearly 85 percent in some cases.
Since the study was published, telehealth technology has advanced significantly, making it even more efficient and easy to use, and a growing number of healthcare providers are offering telehealth options.
Patient feedback is another important tool for increasing satisfaction. Feedback tools are easy to implement online, whether patients opt for telehealth options or not. An online portal and reminder system can easily integrate short questionnaires about patients’ most recent experiences. But, phone and text messaging can also be used to gather feedback and comments. It not only gives providers immediate insight into what patients like and don’t like, but patients often feel a sense of satisfaction when asked for their comments – especially if they see enhancements to procedures that are specifically relevant to their feedback. The most important part of the feedback process is your commitment to looking for trends and opportunities to improve your patients’ experiences it. Collecting feedback and not acting on it is akin to diagnosing a condition and not offering a remedy.
User-friendly Website and Patient Portal
The key to all of these and other digital services is making them simple and user-friendly. The last thing patients want is a complicated website where they can’t find what they’re looking for. The reaction to your web portal is no different or any less important than when patients first walk into your facility. It should be clean and easy to navigate. All providers have access to similar technologies. Which ones they choose to include in their patient experience and how they provide access to them is what differentiates the best from the rest. If you integrate the latest, in-demand technologies and make them easy for patients to use, you’ll be on your way to high grades.
Want to learn more about how telehealth services can deliver exceptional patient experience, click here.