Your complete guide to Patient Experience.
It has been proven that providing a positive patient experience has many benefits, for patients as well as for staff. Learn more about what we mean when we say patient experience, why patient experience is important, and how to measure and improve it.
What is patient experience?
Patient experience is the sum of all interactions a patient has with the healthcare system and that influences his/her perceptions across the continuum of care. That includes not just the time a patient spends with a doctor or a nurse and the quality of the technical aspects of care (diagnosis and treatment), but also consumer aspects of healthcare such as the appointment booking experience, timely appointments, and easy access to information.
Consumers’ expectations of services are rising in all areas, including patients’ expectations of health care services. An increased focus on and understanding of the importance of the patient experience is key to moving to more patient-centred care. By examining different aspects of the patient experience, one can assess whether patients are receiving care that meets their expectations.
Why is patient experience important?
Providing an experience that is positive for the patient is an important goal in its own right. Moreover, research indicates that there is a link between a positive patient experience and better clinical outcomes, also leading to happier and healthier healthcare staff, reduced turnover, improved hospital reputation, and increased patient loyalty.
Happier, healthier healthcare staff and less turnover
A patient’s positive experience can support the health and wellness of hospital staff too. When patients express their gratitude, hospital staff feel more satisfied in their jobs, stress levels go down and the risk of burnout drops. Healthcare staff with lower levels of stress are also more likely to stay healthy and be more content in their employment.
With a decreased turnover of staff, managers can focus on day-to-day tasks instead of being forced to spend their time on recruiting and hiring staff. By retaining the same workforce for longer, patients who visit the hospital more regularly are more likely to see the same hospital staff, making it easier to build meaningful relationships.
Improved hospital reputation and patient loyalty
Research shows that hospitals that provide a positive patient experience have better reputations. As most patients are likely to do their research before selecting their healthcare providers, a positive reputation plays a part in the would-be patients’ selection process and affects patient loyalty.
How to measure patient experience
Patient experience can be measured using various methods, with surveys, interviews, and patient stories being the most researched. And don’t forget gathering patient data from online and offline sources. All methods come with their own set of pros and cons.
Written surveys tend to be the most popular approach for requesting feedback. It is cost-effective and reliable. Written surveys are easy to distribute as you can use multiple administration methods, such as kiosks and online and text messages. Response rates are often high, resulting in larger quantities of data for more statistically significant results.
On-site rating tools are available to many people, which means you can get ratings from large numbers of patients. Rating tools provide surface-level information only but can still be helpful to signal areas in need of improvement and identify things that patients are particularly passionate about.
Interviews and patient stories are more appropriate when handling sensitive data and give the patient the opportunity to provide in-depth information. Performing interviews is, however, resource-intensive. You may have difficulty interviewing the same people multiple times and run into generalisability issues with small samples of data.
How to improve the patient experience
Improving the patient experience can be easier said than done. First of all, the patient’s entire journey must be in focus, especially in multi-discipline environments, not just the medical procedures. If, for example, a movement from one service to another is not properly managed or communicated, frustration might grow.
Based on extensive experience, in his blog post How to improve the patient experience,Sven-Olof Husmark recommended a few priorities that can help position caregivers as leaders in patient experience:
- simplify appointment scheduling,
- create a friendly environment,
- reduce perceived waiting times,
- lessen confusion,
- survey customers in real time,
- and follow up with patients.
Simplify appointment scheduling
With today's technology, visitors' behaviour and expectations have increased significantly. Thus, you as a service provider need to consider and continually improve your patient journey. By making it easier to schedule appointments, your patients can better plan their day and do not have to wait upon arrival, reducing waiting times and increasing patients’ flexibility.
A smooth appointment scheduling process can also improve the work environment of healthcare providers as limiting the number of walk-ins and the improved workload overview provides opportunities to improve staff planning.
By analyzing the data of performed appointments, for example, if appointments typically take longer or shorter than the time set, it is also possible to optimize the appointment lengths and bookable resources to increase satisfaction.
Qmatic’s appointment scheduling solution is fully integrated with the customer journey management platform, allowing you to book multiple resources or appointments in one visit to provide a seamless patient journey. By offering a virtual queuing solution with SMS check-in and mobile tickets connected to the appointment, patients can wait wherever they want, which limits the risk of infection and decreases the perceived waiting time.
Create a friendly environment
Research shows that the friendliness of the office staff has the greatest impact on a positive patient experience. By creating a pleasant, welcoming environment at the start of a patient’s visit, healthcare providers immediately improve the chances of a higher satisfaction rating. One of the best ways to do that is to keep staff informed and properly utilized.
With Qmatic’s solution, it is possible to integrate the patient scheduling and arrival management solution with your HIS system to improve efficiencies and the patient experience. It ensures that your staff always has access to relevant patient information, while still securing patient privacy.
Reduce actual and perceived waiting times
Long waiting times are patients’ number one complaint. Solid scheduling guidelines (to avoid overbooking) and always keeping patients in the know with information and updates can help reduce both actual and perceived waiting times. While decreasing waiting times does have a positive effect on patient experience, communicating with patients has an even bigger impact. In fact, in a study of 5,000 patient participants, 80% said that knowing their wait time in advance would eliminate frustration.
With a virtual queuing system, patients are free to wait anywhere they like, for example in a park or at a café, which makes queuing a more pleasant experience. At check-in, the patient receives a virtual ticket and the messaging service provides real-time notifications throughout the patient’s interaction with your healthcare facility.
Uncertainty about what comes next is a pain point for patients. Providing real-time information throughout the patient journey helps keep them in the know. Solutions like digital signage, media displays and audio solutions throughout the office go a long way to prevent confusion. Displays can let patients know their position in line, inform them about how they should be prepared for their visit, or even how to validate their parking.
By connecting a messaging service to your patient journey management system, you can provide patients with booking confirmations, appointment reminders and what to prepare ahead of their visit to keep them in the know. The real-time updates and reminders are sent directly to the patient’s phone via SMS or email. You can also use virtual queuing so that each patient can monitor their place in the line on their phone.
Follow up with the patient – survey in real time
Patient contact shouldn’t stop after they leave the facility. Top-quality care involves ongoing communication. By reaching out to patients after the visit, caregivers show attentiveness and build relationships that keep patients coming back. This is an area that is often forgotten about.
Giving each patient the opportunity to answer a simple survey not only makes them feel valued, but also generates important data about the patient experience in real-time. That information is important for filing reimbursements, and the immediacy of the data allows providers to remain consistently aware of how to cultivate the best possible care environment.
Demonstrate a commitment to patient safety
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is heightened awareness about staff and patient safety. Patients want to know that you take their safety seriously. With the appropriate measures in place, it is possible to keep both patients and staff safe and well informed.
By managing the patient flow smoothly, you can maintain social distancing through the patient journey. Appointment scheduling and arrival management solutions that enable self-check-in could be an option. By checking in with a QR code placed at the entrance or outside, or by following a link in an email or SMS, patients can avoid queues and crowded waiting areas.
Checked-in patients can be offered a mobile ticket or SMS reminder that allows them to wait remotely, so-called virtual queuing, to maintain social distancing in the waiting area.
If you have protocols and checklists to follow, they can be made readily available to the patient well in advance through messaging services, using SMS or email.
Patient experience in healthcare: examples from hospitals, clinics, labs, and pharmacies
Southeast Georgia Health System decreased patient wait times by 50% with Qmatic
Struggling with time-consuming manual paper tracking of patients and outdated calling methods, Southeast Georgia Health System turned to Qmatic to solve their patient tracking and data needs.
“Patient volumes have increased dramatically since we installed the Qmatic system,” says Stephanie Sinopoli, Director of Revenue/Admissions. “At the same time, we noticed a 50% decrease in patient wait times. With Qmatic we can maintain both the higher patient volume and the decreased service times.”
St. Josef’s Hospital Wiesbaden reduces wait times by 50% with Qmatic
Three admission desks for elective patients, with varying workloads, meant patients at St. Josef’s Hospital Wiesbaden faced wait times of up to two hours. Furthermore, the delay at admissions caused further delays in, for example, the operating room.
By combining the three admission desks into one central admissions area and controlling the patient flow through the Qmatic Orchestra Solution, St. Josef’s Hospital Wiesbaden was able to reduce waiting times by 50% – and noticed a clear increase in both patient and staff satisfaction.
Alliar Médicos à Frente reduces average wait time and increases productivity with Qmatic
With 3 000 patients walking through their testing and imaging centres each day, check-in and necessary paperwork was adding too many minutes to patient wait times at Alliar Médicos à Frente. Leadership recognized the need to create an efficient patient flow throughout the center, and a centralized location to manage staffing to successfully process each patient in a timely manner.
Before the implementation of Qmatic, Alliar had peak wait times of up to an hour and a half. After the implementation, wait times are an average of 5 minutes, with peaks of 15 minutes. Qmatic Orchestra’s online dashboard allows Alliar to align patient flow with staffing needs, thereby ensuring a seamless experience.
Qmatic optimize the patient flows at ADRZ Hospital in the Netherlands
When faced with the need for renovations, ADRZ Hospital went all out. The result is a patient-friendly hospital with optimized patient flows.
An automated process for calling patients provides the opportunity to collect management information, which makes it easier to manage patient expectations by, for example, communicating waiting times. The automated calling process also gives ADRZ a more effective use of resources as usage can be monitored in real-time.
Guarnieri offers an organized patient flow with Qmatic patient journey management
“In the reception area, patients were getting a bit disoriented and were not well informed regarding expectations,” says Giovanni Pica, IT Manager for the Guarnieri Hospital. “This is why we started thinking about solutions to better organize patient registration and provide information to patients more effectively.”
In the first phase, Guarnieri focused on the flow of patients at registration. Touch-screen kiosks and monitors let patients choose which service they need and direct them to the correct entrance. Monitors in the waiting areas display wait times and broadcast multimedia content to keep patients informed and entertained at the same time.
Kinetika Sardagena partners with Qmatic to manage the patient flow
Kinetika Sardagena needed a way to manage the huge number of patients waiting in line at their facilities every day. They looked for a solution that was capable of managing the reception of patients and making their wait less burdensome.
The Qmatic queue management solution makes sure that each patient’s turn is respected, while no one has to physically get in line. Queue status and other relevant information is displayed on strategically placed monitors.
“The results we have collected confirm that we are on the right path because our quality of services and patient satisfaction have increased significantly,” says IT Manager Roland Poledda.
Patient experience management tools
An appointment management system makes it easier for patients to connect to your healthcare services anywhere, anytime. It also enables you to distribute the workload evenly throughout the workday, creating a better balance between walk-ins and appointments.
With appointment scheduling, your patients can handle their appointments online. You also have the option to send automatic confirmations and reminders to keep them informed. With integrated arrival management and self-check-in, patients can check in with a link sent by email or SMS. The business intelligence tool provides real-time data, analytics and advanced reporting of customer behaviour and branch performance.
Qmatic appointment management solutions are fully integrated with the customer journey management platform for a seamless patient experience.
A queue management solution can help optimise the patient flow, minimizing crowding in waiting areas and reducing wait times, while also keeping patients informed every step of the way.
Qmatic queue management solutions cover everything from basic queue management to fully tailored customer journey platforms that utilize customer data, bridging the gap between the physical environment and online to provide a seamless patient experience and improve staff efficiency.
Virtual queuing allows for patients to wait anywhere using a smartphone to monitor their progress in real-time and receive notifications when it's their turn to be served. Not only does virtual queuing make the waiting process a more enjoyable experience for the patient, reducing perceived waiting times, it also enables safe queuing and social distancing.
- Mobile ticket
- Online appointment booking
- Staff application
- Messaging services
- Business intelligence, insights and reporting
- Online customer feedback
Reporting and analytics
With Qmatic business intelligence tools, you can gather data from every part of the patient journey – customer feedback included – to generate the comprehensive, up-to-date insights you need to make better data-driven business decisions that optimize operations and delight patients at every touchpoint.
Real-time dashboards let you access real-time data of workflows, current situation, and service performance metrics. Identify emerging trends, monitor operational efficiency, and make data-driven decisions to improve operations.
With Qmatic’s solutions for patient feedback, you can gather insights into your patients’ needs, strengthen customer relationships, and boost customer satisfaction at every touchpoint.
With intuitive and user-friendly apps for managing waiting patients, staff can meet and serve patients more directly. Thanks to a full HIS integration, all relevant information is available in one system, giving staff a 360 view of the patient’s journey. With the app, staff can, among other things, call and serve patients, transfer patients to other queues and staff members, schedule, and re-schedule.
Integration with HIS
Integrating Qmatic’s full suite of patient journey solutions to your HIS allows for more streamlined processes, increased efficiency, and better quality of care by efficiently utilizing healthcare resources.