The impact of improved patient experiences
What Impact Does Improved Patient Satisfaction Have For A Hospital Organization?
Patient satisfaction is more important than ever as medical costs and insurance premiums rise and consumers find a greater financial risk associated with their own care. Consequently, patients have had to become more personally involved in their healthcare decisions, ensuring firsthand that they receive the most value for their investment.
Often this involves directly comparing the services provided by healthcare organizations. “Patients are increasingly shopping for healthcare services, and seeking the best possible overall experience when they need care,” said Jean-Pierre Stephan, managing director of Accenture’s customer-relationship management offerings. “As a result, leading hospitals are growing profitability not by cutting costs, but by improving patient experience and satisfaction.”
The patient experience represents a critical component of your ability to attract and retain patients. When patients form positive relationships and begin to trust your providers, they become more engaged in their own care, and develop a stronger sense of loyalty to your organization.
The impact of a positive patient experience
Understanding and working to improve the patient experience is critical. Enhancing patient experience positively impacts your healthcare organization in three major ways.
Increases patient engagement
Better patient experiences, which involves seeing patients as unique individuals, increase the likelihood that they and their families or other caregivers will become more engaged in their own health outcomes. Multiple studies have connected higher levels of clinical outcomes to a focus on patient experience. Policy changes implemented by the Georgia Health Sciences Medical Center to increase patient and family engagement saw medication errors decrease by 62 percent, falls decrease by 40 percent, and length of stay decrease by 50 percent, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
Additionally, improving clinical indicators can positively impact a wide variety of health outcomes, including pain control, functional status, emotional health, physiological measures, and symptom resolution, the AHRQ reported.
Building trusted partnerships between patients and their providers is important, as patients are more likely to ask questions and comply with recommended treatment plans when they have confidence in the people responsible for their care.
Enhances an organization’s revenue
Patient experience is increasingly being used by insurance payers as a metric to assess the quality of care that healthcare organizations are providing, and consequently is changing the way that those payers structure contractual agreements. New types of partnership between care facilities and payers, based explicitly on these factors, are becoming evident in the industry.
While reimbursement can play a role in improving your organization’s bottom line, the real value is found in enhancing patient experience to increase consumer loyalty. Estimates place the lifetime value of a patient at approximately $1.4 million—and when patients have a bad experience and choose to go elsewhere, that money goes with them, along with anyone influenced by their negative reviews online. According to the national average, over 32% of people who visit a hospital website say reviews are the most important thing on the site.
Improves an organization’s reputation
Today, patients can easily go online to compare the scores and ratings of healthcare organizations. Word-of-mouth reviews of services will become more and more important, due to increasing competition between healthcare providers and the growing use of online communications. This can have either a positive or negative impact on patient retention.
“It really is patient experience overall that drives people toward the providers they choose. With the increasing amount of transparency that we talked about, patients can see what others think about you,” said Lori Kondas, MBA, senior director for the office of patient experience at the Cleveland Clinic, in an interview with HealthLeaders Media. “It’s sort of like TripAdvisor. You can go anywhere and learn about a healthcare system—and not just about what the quality of care was, but how [consumers] were treated.”
Reputation based on patient experience impacts whether or not patients return to an organization or recommend it to those in their social network—which, as previously mentioned, affects your bottom line. The Advisory Board Company reported that a 10 percent increase in customer loyalty could generate more than $22 million in revenue for the average hospital.
Importance of timely patient feedback
Patient-reported data is important for improving the patient experience. However, traditional methods of collecting this data, such as mailed questionnaires, deliver delayed results. Consequently, the limited information they are able to provide is not particularly helpful, despite the lengths that care facilities go to collect it.
The way to maximize the value of this information is to collect feedback more rapidly. Real-time data provides greater benefits, since feedback is relayed back to the organization within 24-72 hours after the healthcare encounter. Real-time data allows organizations to act on feedback with greater responsiveness, increasing provider engagement in patient care and enabling the improvement of existing practices.
The speed of feedback results allows for greater understanding of the patient experience, giving your organization immediate insight into the emerging trends and potential challenges that must be addressed. And when you are able to properly prioritize your efforts to improve the patient experience, you will have more success in improving the overall quality of their care.
By better understanding your patients overall experiences, you are able to create experiences that inspire loyalty and trust, benefiting both your organization and the people you care for.