Not wanting to hang around a hospital is universal. Patients are nervous, scared, and likely in pain. Plus, there are folks sneezing. It certainly can make for an uncomfortable and unhealthy situation.
However, by creating a more thoughtful and deliberate patient flow, it doesn’t have to be that way. The patient flow should showcase the professionalism of the hospital and connect the patient to an elevated experience. With proper systems in place, today’s healthcare facility can create better efficiencies, bolster its reputation, and improve its bottom line all while achieving better overall health outcomes for its patients.
The Case for a Better Patient Experience
With tight budgets, hospitals are handling more patients with fewer resources. Administrators need a strong argument to justify the investments needed to enhance the patient experience. Fortunately, there is plenty of evidence showcasing the value of an enhanced patient experience.
Lowers medical malpractice cases. For every drop in patient-reported scores that went from very good to very poor (in a five-step scale) the chances of a malpractice suit went up by 21.7 percent.
Generates positive reviews. Having a positive patient experience results in the patient telling others, particularly on social media and review sites. These positive reviews are essentially your marketing outreach to potential patients.
Creates patient loyalty. One report noted that a 10 percent increase in patient loyalty could generate more than $22 million in revenue for the average hospital.
Reduces turnover. Efficiently managing patient flow also means internal resources are properly utilized. So, a stronger patient experience in turn ultimately creates a more enriched employee experience.
And the ultimate reason for any of this is that it actually can lead to better health outcomes for patients. A happy patient is ultimately a healthier patient. When patients are satisfied with the experience, they are more likely to follow medical advice long-term.
Studies show that diabetic patients who have positive interactions with providers show greater self-management skills, and patients who had positive experiences when hospitalized for heart attacks had more positive outcomes a year after being discharged. Patients and the provider communicate better, which means patients work with their providers to get the proper results.
A Check-Up on Check-In
So, what must be done to promote a more positive patient experience? Well, as they say, let’s start at the very beginning. A patient calls the office, is put on hold, and then goes through the frustrating process of matching up the patient's and doctor’s availability.
An easy solution is to offer the patients more control online, where they can make and manage their appointments. The online booking system allows the patient to list the purpose of the visit as well as coordinate several appointments simultaneously. The pre-arrival process is streamlined. Another plus to having patients use self-service options is that staff workload is also reduced.
Once an appointment is made the patient is then kept informed with reminders, check-in information, and location — everything they need to keep and be on time for their appointment.
Upon arrival, a patient can check-in and wait anywhere, even off-premises, with mobile ticketing. Scheduled appointments keep everything running more smoothly for both patient and medical professional, but if there is a wait time, the patient is alerted with specific information. Wait times are more pleasant and safer with the patient involved throughout the process.
While non-emergency check-in is just one example of how patient flow can be made more efficient at hospitals, the same principles can be applied from pre-arrival through post-service. An elevated, comprehensive patient journey keeps both patient and medical personnel informed, involved, safe, and satisfied.
Healthy Patients, Healthy Bottom Line
As the competition in the healthcare market increases and patients become more involved with their care, the quality of the patient experience can directly impact health outcomes and the bottom line of the healthcare provider. In the 2021 Accenture Health and Life Sciences Experience Survey, 67% reported a negative experience with a medical provider, pharmacy, or hospital. And the leading cause for that? “The visit was not efficient.”
And those negative experiences had far-reaching impacts on both patient and provider:
1/3 of respondents switched providers.
And 1/3 were less likely to seek medical care next time they needed it.
So, what makes for a positive experience? Efficient, well-coordinated care, support, and communication. Taking a patient-centric approach to healthcare becomes a win-win for both patient and healthcare provider.
The best prescription for healthier, happier patients is for today’s hospitals to focus on delivering a solid patient experience.