Your complete guide to Patient Experience.
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, how to measure and improve patient experience, and which tools can help you to increase patient experience.
What is patient experience?
Patient experience is founded on all the interactions a patient has during their healthcare journey, including meetings with doctors and nurses, treatment plans, healthcare facilities, and interactive technology that can influence patient satisfaction. Some interactions, such as the diagnosis and treatment process, may come to mind first. It’s important to remember that interactive technologies play a vital role in achieving positive patient experiences. Simplifying patients’ communication with healthcare providers and allowing easy access to information, appointment booking systems, and frequent updates about the next steps considers the whole patient journey and improves the overall patient experience.
As the healthcare industry is developing and adapting new technologies, patients’ expectations of smoother patient journeys and better interaction with healthcare staff are increasing. This new development of patient expectations puts more emphasis on healthcare providers to understand and examine which key aspects are essential and important for patients and what impact they have on the patient experience. Identifying important patient journey touchpoints and analyzing how patients perceive their outcomes is when healthcare providers can investigate whether they are providing a good patient experience and how to enhance it further.
Why is patient experience important?
Good patient experiences positively impact both patients and healthcare staff, improving patient satisfaction and staff satisfaction. The effects of patient experience on patients and staff positively correlate with each other, meaning that if patients have a better patient experience, it will also lead to improved work experiences and environment for healthcare staff. Actively working with patient experience management is therefore essential for achieving high patient and staff satisfaction.
How good patient experience affects and benefits patients
Good patient experiences can increase patient loyalty, patient retention, and patient satisfaction but also lead to better treatment and healthcare outcomes. Patients become more attentive to following the healthcare plans set up for them and have a close dialogue with the healthcare personnel, resulting in better health outcomes. This correlates to better healthcare performances when complications and malpractice risks are reduced, and patients become happier and more committed to actively participating in their care.
How good patient experience affects and benefits healthcare staff
From the staff’s perspective, the benefits of good patient experiences result in more positive communication from patients and a higher expression of gratitude for the staff’s efforts, creating an efficient and positive work environment. The number of frustrated patients, miscommunication, and the amount of staff input to single cases are reduced when patients have a good experience and enable healthcare staff to provide better care for patients. This leads to happier staff and reduced turnover and burnout. As healthcare staff become happier and more satisfied, the staff is more consistent throughout time with fewer new hires, creating the possibility of establishing good relationships with long-term patients, which in return can positively contribute to performance and treatment outcomes.
How to measure patient experience
Patient experience is subjective and reflects the perception of how positive or negative one's interactions with various healthcare touchpoints have been throughout the care journey. To measure patient experience, healthcare providers can use patient experience solutions that can collect subjective data.
Examples of how patient experience data can be collected:
- On-site rating tools
- Patient interviews
- Patient stories
The methods mentioned above can be conducted both offline and online. Surveys can, for example, be collected using traditional pen and paper. But if a patient experience solution is used, more efficient and accessible tools like kiosks, online surveys, and text message surveys can be implemented. These solutions are easy and convenient methods that enable patients to provide their feedback using their preferred in different ways. The response rate of surveys is usually high and attaining larger quantities of data enables healthcare providers to analyze a broader depth of information relevant to different areas of the patient journey.
Using a patient experience solution that provide on-site rating tools can provide surface-level information about the overall patient experience, but the possibilities of obtaining more specific data are limited. On-site rating tools are easy to use and can be placed in various areas on the premises to make it more accessible. The results can help healthcare providers monitor their performances and identify where they can improve their processes or if their efforts to improve patients’ experiences have worked.
Interviews and patient stories are more appropriate when handling sensitive and specific data by allowing the patient to provide in-depth information. Performing interviews requires more resources, time, and planning, and the type of data will be of a qualitative nature that may create generalizability issues.
How to improve the patient experience
To improve the patient experience, healthcare providers must consider the entire patient journey and map up the interactions and medical procedures the patients go through, including multi-disciplinary encounters and processes. Some interaction points in the patient journey are good to reflect on when identifying what can be improved and which patient experience solutions can implemented to support the efforts.
Some practical examples that healthcare providers can work on to improve the patient experience:
- simplify the appointment scheduling process
- create a friendly environment
- reduce patients' waiting times
- reduce confusion with clear communication
- conduct patient surveys
- ensure patient safety
Simplify the appointment scheduling process
Making it easier for patients to schedule an appointment positively affects their experience when the task becomes more accessible through, for example, an appointment scheduling system and enables patients more flexibility to select a suitable time according to their availability. Patients gain more control over their appointments and remove the stress of a time booked by healthcare staff that may not fit their schedule. With an appointment scheduling system, the patient can receive booking confirmations and reminders, and arrive in a timely manner or wait remotely with a Mobile Ticket off the premises.
An efficient and integrated appointment scheduling system also reduces the stress amongst healthcare staff as the schedules are pre-planned, leaving room for efficient staff allocation and for the staff to prepare themselves ahead of appointments. The number of unannounced walk-in patients is limited and brought to a minimum, reducing the uncertainty and additional workload of peak hours for the staff. The workload is controlled and balanced throughout the workday, creating a better work environment for healthcare personnel. Analyzing performance data can help find indications of how appointments and internal procedures can be optimized, for example, if appointments take longer or shorter than the booked time, the length of bookable resources can be adjusted.
Qmatic’s appointment scheduling system is fully integrated with the patient flow management system, providing healthcare providers with the tools to book multiple resources or appointments in one place. By offering a virtual queuing solution with SMS check-in and mobile tickets connected to the appointment, patients can wait outside the facilities. This limits the risk of infections with airy waiting areas and controlled patient flows while decreasing patients’ actual and perceived waiting time.
Create a friendly environment
Happy staff and friendly interactions have one of the greatest impacts on a positive patient experience. By creating a pleasant, smooth, and welcoming environment at the start of a patient’s visit, healthcare providers immediately improve the chances of providing a good patient experience. One of the best ways to do that is to actively work on improving staff satisfaction, giving the personnel the tools and preparatory time to provide good patient care, and enabling a good work environment with limited stress levels for the staff.
With Qmatic’s solutions, it is possible to integrate the appointment scheduling and arrival management solution with your HIS system to improve efficiencies and interconnectivity between various systems. Helping healthcare providers to establish a better and smoother work environment to enhance staff satisfaction and their work experience. It ensures that your staff always has access to relevant patient information while securing patient privacy, all in one system.
Reduce patients' waiting times
Long waiting times is one of the biggest complaints amongst patients and a significant stress factor for healthcare staff. Actively working to reduce waiting times is a great way to enhance the patient experience. With efficient staff planning, appointment booking solutions, and efficient patient flow management, healthcare providers can reduce the waiting times immensely. Managing the stream of patients moving through the facilities with self-service kiosks or virtual check-in on their mobile phones, combined with appointment booking solutions, helps to reduce waiting times effectively.
Identifying when peak hours may occur and how many set appointments have been booked, helps healthcare providers to allocate needed staff and resources more efficiently. As a result, the stress of excessive workload on staff and long waiting times for patients are largely eliminated, creating a better work environment for the staff and a smoother patient journey. Informing patients how long time is left before it’s their turn with digital signages and mobile tickets or providing decided appointment times are all efforts that contribute to a better patient experience by reducing perceived and actual waiting times.
In more advanced appointment scheduling systems, virtual queuing solutions can be integrated where patients can wait anywhere they like, for example, in a park or at a café off the premises, making queuing a more pleasant experience. At check-in, the patient receives a virtual ticket and real-time notifications of when it’s their turn. The actual and perceived waiting time of patients is thereby affected positively, which has a strong connection to a good patient experience.
Reduce confusion with clear communication
Uncertainty about what comes next and when it comes is a pain point for patients. Providing real-time information throughout the patient journey helps keep them informed and updated. Technical solutions like digital signage, media displays, and audio solutions throughout the facilities help to reduce various types of confusion patients may have. 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 system, you can provide patients with booking confirmations, appointment reminders, and what to prepare for before their visit. The real-time updates and reminders are sent directly to the patient’s phone via text or email. You can also use virtual queuing with Mobile Ticket so that patients can easily monitor their place in the line on their phone while waiting remotely.
Follow up with a patient survey
As important as it is to have good communication with patients before and during their appointments with reminders and information about what to expect at their visit, it is equally important to continue the dialogue after the appointment to gather information about their actual experience. The best source of information on how patient experiences can be improved is of course found among the patients and staff.
By reaching out to patients after the visit, caregivers show attentiveness. Giving each patient the opportunity to answer a simple survey makes them feel valued and generates important data about the patient’s experience. That information is essential for identifying how healthcare providers can improve their operations to enhance the patient experience and understand what actions contribute to good healthcare and what does not to continue providing a good care environment.
Demonstrate commitment to patient safety
Showing commitment to patients, highlighting the importance of keeping them safe throughout their patient journey, and storing their personal information securely is steadily growing in importance. Simple things like maintaining clean facilities and equipment and reducing the infection risks among patients and staff have become vital aspects of providing a good patient experience.
By managing a good in and outflow of patients at the facilities, offering appointment scheduling and arrival management solutions that include self-service kiosks, check-in links for virtual queuing in appointment reminders, can help reduce crowded waiting areas. The number of patients present at the facilities would be less with walk-in appointments, and the option of waiting remotely with virtual queuing solutions would enable patients to arrive a short time before their appointment, showing commitment to patient safety by reducing infection risks followed by big crowds.
Patient experience examples
St. Josef’s Hospital Wiesbaden reduces wait times by 50% and increases patient satisfaction with Qmatic
St. Josef’s Hospital Weisbaden had struggled for a long time with long patient waiting times that normally stretched up to two hours, causing build-ups in operations rooms, and increasing the workload for the staff. By implementing a cross-department patient journey management system with Qmatic Orchestra, one common administration central was created for all departments along with self-service kiosks for patients to register themselves. St. Josef’s Hospital Weisbaden decreased the patients’ waiting time by 50%, and the staff attained flexible tools to handle fluctuations in patient flows. As a result, the hospital significantly increased patient and staff satisfaction with the new Qmatic patient management system.
Alliar Médicos à Frente reduces average wait time to 5 minutes and increases operational productivity with Qmatic
Alliar Médicos à Frente is one of the largest health diagnostics companies in Brazil, with more than 120 care units, handling quantities of approximately 3000 patients daily across the country. One of their biggest issues was ineffective manual processes for registering patients and managing their staff resources from a central hub.
After implementing Qmatic’s patient management system, Alliar Médicos à Frente managed to reduce the patient wait times from 90 minutes during peak hours to as little as 15 minutes during peak hours and 5 minutes during general hours. With customized reporting and real-time data from Qmatic Orchestra, the allocation of sufficient staff resources increased significantly, resulting in an 83% increase in operational efficiency. The patient experience improved considerably, along with the company's productivity.
Kinetika Sardagena partners with Qmatic to manage and optimize their patient flow
Kinetika Sardagena is a healthcare provider who was facing the challenge of managing different patient flows, large crowds in their facilities, and long waiting times. By implementing Qmatic’s patient journey management system, Kinetika Sardagena gained insights into tracking and monitoring their patient flows and optimizing their appointment booking processes. Now, they have decreased patients’ waiting times with virtual queuing solutions and self-service kiosks, improved the overall patient journey with smoother interaction points between the patients and staff, and increased their capacity with 1900 additional outpatient appointments.
Patient experience management tools
There are several tools healthcare providers can use in their patient experience management efforts and make their operational processes more efficient. Many patient experience management tools focus on relieving the staff of manual administrative workload while enabling patients greater flexibility and control of their visits, for example, by automating the appointment booking process or providing new queuing methods and much more.
Below, we have compiled some useful patient experience management tools that can support healthcare providers in improving patient experiences:
- Appointment scheduling system
- Queue management system
- Virtual queuing solutions
- Reporting and analytics tools
- Patient feedback solutions
- Mobile staff applications
Appointment scheduling system
An appointment scheduling system makes it easier for patients to connect and book appointments when it fits them the best, via phone or online. The patients can receive automatic confirmations and reminders to keep them updated about their appointments and ensure they arrive prepared. Sending automatic reminders helps reduce the number of no-shows, and automating the appointment scheduling process helps reduce the staff's administrative workload so they can focus on other important tasks requiring their professional expertise.
An appointment management system enables healthcare providers to distribute the workload evenly throughout the workday with set appointments and drop-ins, creating a better balance between unexpected visits and booked appointments. With integrated arrival management and self-check-in options, patients can announce their arrival for their appointments easily.
Qmatic’s appointment scheduling system can be fully integrated with the patient flow management system to create a seamless patient experience and equip healthcare staff with the tools needed to provide excellent patient care.
Queue management system
A queue management system can help optimize the patient flow, for example, at laboratories and test facilities, by minimizing crowding in waiting areas, reducing waiting times, and keeping patients informed of movements in the queue. With a queue management system, it becomes easy to establish clear communication with patients about when it’s their turn, estimations of how long they must wait, and offers different ticketing options such as traditional printed queuing tickets and virtual tickets.
Qmatic’s queue management solutions cover everything from basic queue management to fully tailored patient journey management platforms that utilize patient flow data, providing a seamless patient experience while improving staff and resource efficiency.
Virtual queuing solutions
Virtual queuing allows patients to wait for their treatment remotely using a smartphone to monitor their progress in real time and receive notifications when it's their turn to receive their treatment or leave test samples. Virtual queuing makes the waiting process less uncertain and more informative for the patient as they are frequently updated about their queue position, reducing the perceived waiting time and infection risks that follow with crowded waiting areas.
Qmatic virtual queuing solution includes features like:
- Mobile ticket
- Online appointment booking
- Mobile staff application
- Messaging services
- Business intelligence tools providing insights and reports
- Online patient feedback
Reporting and analytics
Gathering patient journey performance data and patient feedback with business intelligence tools plays an essential role for healthcare providers in their efforts to identify how they can improve the patient experience.
Using real-time dashboards can help healthcare staff manage unexpected visiting peaks by walk-in patients, and performance-related reports and analytics can be used by higher-level management for decision-making processes and strategy planning. Analyzing operational-based data can help high-level management optimize resource planning and staff allocation, contributing to higher efficiency and a better work environment for staff with balanced patient flows and sufficient resources.
Patient feedback solutions
Collecting patient feedback is valuable information to incorporate in the efforts for improving patient experience. Using a patient feedback solution either on-site or as post-appointment surveys can help healthcare providers gain insight of what interactions are appreciated by their patients and what improvement they can implement in their operations.
Mobile staff applications
Providing the staff with user-friendly tools to manage the patient flows is key to maintaining a good stream of patients and providing easy solutions for staff to call waiting patients smoothly. Qmatic’s patient management system enables fully HIS-integrated staff applications that collect all relevant information in one system, giving healthcare staff an overview of patients’ journeys in place. They can for example call patients when it is their turn to attain treatment, transfer patients to other queues or departments, and manage the appointment schedule easily in one place.
Integration with HIS
Qmatic’s patient management solutions allow full integration with HIS system to enable more streamlined processes, increased operational efficiency, and smart utilization of healthcare resources across departments.