Customer Experience for the Healthcare Industry
Customer experience for the healthcare industry is necessary to transform patient experience and provider experience. The post-pandemic healthcare industry is poised to capitalize on lessons learned and the acceleration of the adoption of telehealth and other patient-centered technology solutions.
But the system remains broken for countless patients and the healthcare providers who serve them. Healthcare customer experience solutions of the future put the patient at the center of care. Further, they align with employee experience initiatives that give health care professionals from schedulers, to providers, to health system administrators access to information and hospitality training that gives patients the experiences they deserve.
Investments in customer experience for the healthcare industry include design and implementation of patient-centered technology that breaks down specialist silos and makes data more accessible for streamlined care and communication. The patient of today desires intuitive, personalized technology-enabled experiences. Further, today’s patients, regardless of health or socioeconomic status, require easy-to-understand, actionable communication that empowers them to make wellness choices for a healthier life.
Why is CX Important for the Healthcare Industry
Patient care starts with trust. As such, healthcare customer experience must build and maintain patient trust across providers, geographies, and access factors. Good customer experience in the healthcare industry supports a superior standard of care. And that leads to improved individual and public health outcomes.
Health systems can work towards improved outcomes based on patient experience by designing and programming customer experiences that center on trust. However, this is only a first step. To deliver truly patient-centered experiences, build seamless, guided journeys. Embed customer-centric communication in the customer journey, to keep patient needs and abilities at the forefront of the design and implementation of patient experience programs.
What is Good Customer Experience in the Healthcare Industry
Good healthcare customer experience includes positive interactions at every touchpoint of a patient’s journey.
This begins with clear, easy-to-understand communication about scheduling, standards of care, and the responsibilities of both providers and patients. Easy-to-understand communication accounts for language and accessibility considerations. It requires strategic investment in technology, communication, and CX solutions that ensure patients can access, understand, and act upon, the information they receive from their doctors and other health services providers.
Seamless, affordable access to medical records and financial records are key to patient experience and consistent, quality care.
Medical billing offices are responsible for maintaining good patient experience to keep patients from putting off preventive care. Delaying preventive care leads to higher medical expenses (for individuals, insurers, and taxpayers), and poor patient outcomes.
Hospitality training for staff enables them to provide patients with better experiences. Additionally, hospitality training for billing offices and the front offices of medical practices gives employees the tools they need to demonstrate respect, support, and care through conversation and information exchange with patients on a critical touchpoint of the customer journey.
Another feature of good customer experience in healthcare is easy access to providers. However, ease of access is only one component of patient experience. The quality of provider-patient interactions defines good healthcare experiences. Patient-centric communication, technology, and experiences along every touchpoint of the journey make patients feel informed, guided, cared for, and empowered to make the best choices for their health and wellness.
Top 5 Things that Drive Bad Customer Experience in Healthcare
Lack of Access to Care
Barriers to access care threaten patient experience and health outcomes. These obstacles to care range from medical office hours that fail to accommodate working individuals (especially hourly employees who do not have paid time off), to staff who lack non-English language training, access to translators, or translation technology tools.
Despite the healthcare industry’s best intentions, the global pandemic proved that technology is not the access equalizer many had hoped. Individuals who live in areas with unreliable Internet, those who cannot afford connected devices, and individuals living in unsafe domestic situations a have significant barriers to access healthcare services.
In the patient experience context, CX strategy, programming, design, and training, must open sustainable, appropriate channels to connect patients with health and wellness services.
Insufficient Support for Staff
Lack of training, resources, and employee experience investments for staff drive bad customer experience in the healthcare industry. Poor engagement, low salaries, and compensation not related to performance goals, as well as understaffing and insufficient IT and hospitality training account for significant problems that impact staff, providers, and patients.
Because wellness-focused customer experience starts from inside an organization and touches every facet of it, the result of underfunding training and lowering employee engagement is a bad experience overall. Poor goal setting, and in-office culture further reduce employee motivation. This compromises the trust and confidence patients need to have in their provider. As a result, even if a healthcare organization makes an initial experience investment, patient experience programs cannot be sustained.
Physician Burnout and Institutional Exhaustion
The impact of physician burnout cannot be ignored. And its effects are not limited to providers. Rather, the impact of physician burnout extends to healthcare staff at all levels, and to patient experience. In 2021, 47% of physicians reported symptoms of burnout, as published in Medscape’s Physician Burnout and Depression Report.
Causes of provider burnout (also known as clinician burnout) are not limited to issues immediately related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, recent healthcare reporting by Forbes notes providers attribute 60% of their feelings of burnout to “completing too many administrative tasks.” This reveals fundamental organizational and operational flaws, as well as poor technology acquisition decisions. It also emphasizes the need to create seamless, efficient experiences for all.
Burnout and institutional exhaustion damage the institutional culture of medical practices, hospitals, and healthcare systems. The negative impact on employee experience, and the subsequent negative impact on patient experience (and ultimately, outcomes) must be addressed. Institutional exhaustion increases wait times; leads to high employee turnover; inhibits collaboration; weakens internal communication and patient communication; and erodes the transparency and trust that enable providers to promote wellness and good patient outcomes.
Failure to Design Future Patient Experience Ecosystem
Failure to design for the future risks further eroding patient and employee experience. To design patient-centric experiences and work toward the future patient experience ecosystems, identifying and deploying technology and digital solutions that meet the diverse scope of patient needs is an important first step.
Current technology solutions are often siloed at an organizational level, and difficult to understand and use at the employee and patient levels. This lowers levels of adoption, creates redundancies, increases office workloads, and leaves many patients feeling mistrustful, confused, and frustrated.
Tone Deaf Communication and Silos
Automated patient messaging systems that do not account for a patient’s state of mind, access needs, or schedules reinforce feelings of disconnection and mistrust between patient and provider. They also increase levels of frustration, and delay care.
To demonstrate patient-centricity, promote health and wellness, and increase efficiencies, it is essential to communicate with patients in clear, meaningful, actionable ways. However, this same approach to seamless, transparent communication must exist within offices and among departments, as well. When it does not, both employee and patient satisfaction rates dip, along with the overall quality of care along the patient journey.
How to Measure Customer Experience in the Healthcare Industry
Measuring patient experience alerts providers to gaps, inefficiencies, and safety issues in the continuum of care. There are a variety of ways to gauge patient experience. Some are rooted in customer experience best practices. Others are unique to healthcare industry customer experience.
Also known as the Net Promoter Score, this score measures whether a customer (the patient) would recommend a brand (medical practice, imaging center, hospital, etc.) to someone they know, based on their experience. As a key CX metric, NPS helps a healthcare provider understand what is working – and what is not – in their patient experiences.
An NPS best practice is to track the patients who say they will come back. Collect information on whether they do come back, and why. Then use this data to develop models for patient loyalty.
Good employee retention rates lower costs and have a positive impact on employee and patient experience. Retention rates are a useful litmus test for the quality of organizational culture, as well as the quality of service a practice, hospital, or health system delivers.
Patient Satisfaction Rates
Patient satisfaction is an important metric to determine the quality of patient experience. There are many ways to gather patient satisfaction data. These include patient narratives (first-hand, self-reported patient experience stories), surveys, and patient interviews.
To access the most useful information about patient satisfaction, it is essential to focus on developing and deploying quality surveys; and implementing intentional communications approaches to gather patient stories and conduct patient interviews.
Positive patient outcomes are a health and wellness objective. They are also clear indicators of the quality of healthcare patient experience. Studies indicate good patient experience links to better prevention and disease management outcomes.
As cited by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality , “[p]atients' experiences with care, particularly communication with providers, correlate with adherence to medical advice and treatment plans. This is especially true among patients with chronic conditions, where a strong commitment from patients to work with their providers is essential for achieving positive results.” Additionally, hospitalized heart patients who report good patient experience “had better health outcomes a year after discharge.”
How to Build Upon and Improve CX in the Healthcare Industry
Design Patient-Centric Experiences
Create a patient-centric environment by making the needs and wellness of patients central to physical and digital design, technology acquisition and deployment, and provider-patient communication. Through the lens of patient-centered wellness care, design CX programming and the institutional standards and behaviors necessary to successfully support it.
Train Employees in Hospitality
Once the desired patient experience is defined, the next step is to design and conduct hospitality training. Hospitality training for support staff, clinicians, and all members of the healthcare team builds an environment essential for quality patient experience along the patient journey. Beneficiaries of an environment infused with hospitality standards and behaviors include both the patients and the employees.
Update Technology and Use Tech Strategically
All healthcare systems and providers need a good digital records management system. This makes it possible for providers across areas of specialization, as well patients, to access up-to-date medical information. Seamless access to records lightens the workload of medical staff and gives patients a sense of awareness and ownership of their health and wellness. It promises trust and improves both employee and patient experience.
Use Language to Create Transparency and Trust
Tailor language to patient needs, and their scope of understanding to reinforce a culture of patient centricity. This includes having access to translation services; developing communications best practices for phone, in-person, digital, and print communication; and training providers and staff on how to communicate clearly and productively with patients.
Patient-centric language and communication extend to medical billing. Clear invoicing and billing correspondence creates transparency and builds trust between patient and provider.
How to Create World Class Healthcare Experience with The Petrova Experience
The Petrova Experience develops a patient-centered approach to the healthcare experience, and designs hospitality training to improve patient and employee experience. To create the desired patient experience, the Petrova Experience Team builds journey maps and assesses technology requirements to identify gaps, redundancies, and opportunities.
Additionally, The Petrova Experience designs the future state patient experience. This future state is the desired, patient-centered environment that drives patient experience improvements, patient outcome improvements, and employee retention. To build trust and transparency across the patient journey, The Petrova Experience designs and implements patient-centric communications best practices and solutions. To evaluate the quality of patient and employee experience, TPE offers customer experience measurement tools and analysis.
In pursuit of employee and customer happiness, as well as standard-setting patient experiences, The Petrova Experience deploys the following solutions:
Patient Experience Diagnostic
CX Program Design & Support
Hospitality & Culture Training
Technology Design and Implementation
Customer Experience Measurement