By Rodney D. Reider
As industry leaders look to the future of healthcare, patient experience continues to gain top priority as a critical pathway to optimizing care and improving patient outcomes. Healthcare providers are visibly aware that the culture of their organization ultimately determines the perception of the patient. This “sum of interactions,” as defined by the Beryl Institute, can be shaped and influenced by leadership’s listening and support of their caregivers as well as correctly applied technology. The efficient use of technology provides our caregivers more time with the patient—the reason they entered the healthcare field in the first place.
Companies like Patient Innovations (of which I am an enthusiastic board member), are providing technology that helps healthcare organizations understand patients’ experiences throughout the entire episode of care.
Without the real-time data these technologies provide, any conversations about pinch points in patient flow and improving patient experiences are all theoretical. These technological innovations are using data on wait times, doctor and nurse tracking, patient scheduling, and discharge processing, to name a few, to communicate with patients during their visit, and equip healthcare providers with the information they need to increase the quality of their patients’ experiences. This leads to better health outcomes for the patient, an improved work environment for the employee, and enhanced revenue for the healthcare provider.
These technologies are a helpful tool for healthcare providers doing the hard work of streamlining their practice, using the real-time data to create a better visit for the patient. Ultimately, the real-time communication, online appointment scheduling, and reduced wait times are all about increasing a patient’s peace of mind, an essential component of improving patient outcomes.
As Thomas H. Lee, MD, CMO of Press Ganey and physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, explains:
“It’s not about parking, it’s not about something as simple as waiting time. It’s about how [patients] feel…We’re trying to meet patients’ needs, and among their needs is peace of mind that things are as good as they can be.”
Quality care that leads to positive patient experiences requires that healthcare providers make their patients more than just data points in a system. Patients want to be known by name, not just date of birth. They need to know they are a priority to those caring for them. Ease of communications with a patient’s care team is a major component of this sense of well-being.
Over half of Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Zers, and 63% of patients 55 and older say their doctor’s responsiveness to follow-up questions via email or phone outside of the appointment is critically or very important to their overall satisfaction, according to the Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey.
In response to this need, many healthcare providers are adopting technologies that increase communications between caregiver and patient. This allows the patient to be better informed and take a proactive role in their health, and doctors to respond in a timelier manner, extending patient care beyond the walls of their facility.
Innovation in patient experience is addressing the entire continuum of care. Whether by providing real-time data that increases efficiency within the walls of the hospital, or creating pathways for communication between patients and physicians between office visits, technology has a crucial role to play in improving patient experience and, ultimately, elevating care and creating better patient outcomes.
For more than 25 years, Rodney has been involved in the healthcare industry and has positioned organizations to adapt to the continuously and rapidly changing healthcare environment. An International Scholar twice-over, he has a thirst for knowledge and a drive to explore, create and support innovative solutions within the healthcare space that make a lasting impact. He writes about healthcare innovation and leadership at rodneyreider.com.