Working as a management consultant in the healthcare space has given me a unique perspective on the patient experience.
Unlike my engagements in other industries, working in healthcare was the first time I thought about impacts on the “end user” at such a high frequency—I knew that every single decision, implementation, and process change ultimately impacted a patient. Plus, as a patient myself, I consistently placed my own and my family’s healthcare experiences at the forefront of my mind. Furthermore, during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare systems are facing unprecedented challenges to provide care to COVID-19 patients while safely delivering standard care to other patients. The need for a renewed focus on the importance of emphasizing the patient experience has been more evident now than ever before.
The healthcare patient experience consists of the interactions that patients have with their care providers, including care received from doctors, nurses, and staff in clinics and hospitals. As healthcare organizations are working to create the best possible patient experiences, and determine where to invest to best support their clinical staff, it’s important that they establish a strong patient experience strategy.
Given that many healthcare systems are transitioning from volume to value-based care, there is a need to deliver quality, proactive, and preventative care. The volume-based care model, also known as fee-for-service, encourages a high volume of service visits. Physicians are focused on treating symptoms instead of preventing illness. On the other hand, value-based care puts the patients first. Providers are incented for delivering personalized and coordinated care.
Since success in value-based care is defined as offering the highest quality of care at the lowest cost, there must be an emphasis on the patient experience to gauge success. Here are some ways healthcare systems can increase their focus on the patient experience.
Listen to the voice of the customer
Healthcare systems should begin by understanding the experiences at every touchpoint across the system from the patients’ point of view. An initial assessment of the system’s current state can be made by collecting patient feedback from surveys. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has implemented the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) – the first national, publicly reported patient satisfaction survey. In addition, healthcare systems can administer internal surveys via other methods, such as e-mail or text, which allow for real-time responses. As seen during the pandemic, such real-time responses are preferred, as changes are more frequent and unpredictable. Findings from these assessments should be shared across the organization, from physicians to administrative staff, to ensure visibility and transparency on the Voice of the Customer (VoC).