How to Use Customer Experience Techniques to Build a Better Patient Experience
One of the most surprising results of the modernization of our healthcare industry is the unexpectedly positive impact of systems that support and enhance personalized care. These solutions open up a new range of possibilities for healthcare providers. From personalized preventative care to cost-reducing management tools, these systems have the potential to create a more patient-focused healthcare experience.
At the core of this revolution in healthcare technology is patient experience. If that term sounds familiar, that’s because it’s an industry-specific adaptation for customer experience. While there are major differences — particularly in the ethical and legal requirements — between patients and customers, both can benefit from the same underlying technology and techniques.
The ultimate goal of any patient experience upgrade should be on delivering and supporting the highest possible level of patient care. Yet, it can be a challenge to deliver the best care when medical professionals are juggling multiple patients, trying to communicate quickly between each other, and also adhering to strict HIPAA guidelines.
Does This Sound Familiar?
It’s no secret that COVID-19 sped up technology use across all industries, but especially healthcare. As first responders, medical personnel had to adapt quickly to everchanging best practices, while keeping patients as healthy and happy as possible. While some people may think this just means wearing PPE, proper precautions extend far beyond that.
Instead of bringing in a desktop on wheels to register patient data during intake and appointments, there are now tablets. But what happens if the software at a hospital or medical facility is not tablet or mobile friendly? It can be a bigger challenge for nurses and doctors to input information if the application is not user friendly, which can decrease the patient experience if the process time is doubled.
Time is of the essence for many patients. They want to feel heard and respected and to understand their results and plans as fast as possible. Yet, their medical team needs to also adhere to HIPAA policies, making sure patients data is safe.
A nurse has received lab results back for Patient A and wants to confirm with the doctor on the action plan. In the past, the nurse would may have shot a quick text to the doctor with the lab results. The doctor could read it and respond. However, if these conversations are on personal cell phones, without a way to encrypt data, the medical professionals could be putting patient data in danger. Even though they had the best of intentions to treat the patient efficiently, creating a positive patient experience, it could cause issues.
If we think of this example more like a traditional sales environment, we would dissect how the nurses and doctors could quickly deliver information safely back and forth and update patient files.
With a HIPAA compliant Customer Relationship Management or Customer Experience software platform, they’d be able to transfer information quickly and safely, as well as leave notes directly into the patient file. This empowers them to both to focus on the patient experience, without potentially sacrificing their privacy.
Let’s take a look at how else the healthcare industry can embrace customer experience techniques for the patience experience:
Focus on Engagement
In a traditional business context, engagement represents a customer’s willingness to actively participate in the role of prospect or customer. It measures how likely they are to respond to emails and sales calls, among other things. In a healthcare context, however, engagement represents something far more important: The patient’s willingness to actively participate in their own wellbeing.
If the extent of your engagement strategy is sending out automated appointment reminders, there’s definitely room for improvement. With modern marketing automation tools, for example, your office has a wide range of opportunities to connect with your patients.
This could take the form of an occasional email or text message to patients who haven’t visited your office recently, information about new or improved treatments, or follow-up communications and reminders to patients who have recently undergone a procedure.
These communications can also be two-way conversations. They are managed by a CX or helpdesk system, allowing your staff to check-in on patients more regularly, efficiently and proactively. These conversations can do more than simply streamline your patient communication. They can also improve overall levels of patient contact and interaction.
A patient who has a quick question about a prescription may not want to call your office and wait on hold for 15 minutes before getting a simple answer. Or worse, wait for 15 minutes and told someone will call them back. This kind of interaction has a decidedly negative impact on engagement. But if they can log into a patient portal or open an app, message the doctor directly, and get a prompt response from a doctor or nurse during a moment of relative downtime, everyone wins.
Optimize the Technology
Every healthcare practice is unique. While there are some similarities like reception desks and exam rooms, the day-to-day operations and workflows can be completely different. This is even true within the same medical specialty. It’s essential that you customize your technology with your customers in mind. This way you create the best experience for your patients.
A customized workflow often starts with simple integrations, especially for patient portals. With an integrated portal, patients can:
- Schedule appointments
- Update contact information
- Securely access test results
- Manage payments
- Message the doctor
- Access information about prescriptions and treatments
- Request follow-up
There is no longer the need for them to call in for every single need. This approach to care can have a profound impact on the patient experience. However, optimizing technology goes beyond just partner portals. Consider the advantages of a patient-facing mobile app with built-in options for video-chat based remote consultations. When all of these systems are integrated with existing technology the result is often a more cost-efficient form of healthcare that also improves the patient experience.
Also, when adding in these video consultations, you are expanding your reach. Previously it has been challenging for rural communities to have access to specialty doctors. They have to drive hours to see them. Adding in video consultations and follow up emails into the mix allows doctors to have a wider radius of patients. People who may have not wanted to drive hours for a doctor’s appointment can have a much smoother experience now. They may even schedule appointments more proactively.
Track Your Patient Metrics
Without the right technology, it can be difficult to accurately determine your patient outcomes. How do you tell if you have satisfied patients? Or find a list of up-to-date patients? It’s not always easy. If there’s a problem with your practice’s operations, resulting in those patients going elsewhere for care, you might not even notice it until you’ve lost a large portion of them to other providers.
Most healthcare providers aren’t trained in looking at their practice from this point of view. It’s about providing care, after all, not maximizing conversions while reducing churn. But the healthcare industry is still a business. It can be helpful to look at the practice from a business point of view. The end goal is to take the best care of your patients, so without proper data of how you can improve, you may be missing valuable information.
Losing customers — or patients, in this case — is extremely common in a typical sales environment. One of the biggest causes is a problem with the customer experience. Tools like CX software exist specifically to help companies identify and remedy these issues. Without these tools, office managers and doctors are often forced to make educated guesses about the business value of treatments and procedures.
In many cases, tracking these key metrics doesn’t even require a major investment. Your CX or other patient data-management tools can gain that functionality through simple plugins. KPI dashboards and CX-driven reports can also provide new insights into the overlap between the patient experience and the practical business needs of the provider. When both these needs converge, the result is a thriving practice filled with satisfied patients.
Creating a truly optimized and positive patient experience is complex. You want to make sure you don’t forget one of the most important steps to the patient experience: making sure their personal information is secure.
A HIPAA compliant CRM software platform needs to be managed by a partner that is also subject to HIPAA compliance for Business Associates. HIPAA-compliant technology partners gives you the leverage to keep data secure, while bettering the overall patient experience.
If you are looking for more information about HIPAA compliance or the patient experience, contact us today.
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