Editor’s Note: One of the facts I’ve found about growing older is that assorted body bits develop “issues” as time goes by, and more of my organs acquire their own doctor. Since these doctors like to check in on their organs periodically, I’ve seen a lot of different “approaches” to the patient experience. As Dan Prince notes, given the dramatic changes in the US Healthcare environment, providing an optimal patient experience is becoming increasingly critical. A very pertinent read for our changing times.
The healthcare industry is rapidly—and drastically—changing. From major mergers (CVS + Aetna) to powerhouse partnerships (Walgreens + Microsoft), healthcare organizations (HCOs) have little choice but to evolve and transform in order to remain competitive. Patients have more choices and higher expectations than ever before—putting them squarely in the driver’s seat. According to Forrester, “Organizations need to understand that over the next several years, patient experience, virtual care, and a growing swell of investment activity will become focal points in the healthcare provider market.”
So how does your organization stay relevant in this dynamic environment? By being poised and prepared to change and make the necessary investment toward improving the patient experience. Here are three key trends that deserve your immediate, and ongoing, attention.
1. Investment in customer experience measurement (CEM) programs is key
Health is a serious business—the bills are high and the consequences are steep. Organizations need a way to identify early indicators of patient dissatisfaction in order to fix future problems. Bad processes create bad experiences—and without a system in place to measure the patient experience and collect real-time feedback, organizations will only continue to spin their wheels and damage their reputations. Forrester Research reports that slightly more than half (51%) of US healthcare purchase influencers say that improving the experience of their customers will be a high or critical priority in the coming 12 months. HCOs are embracing customer experience (CX) measurement frameworks in order to prioritize their investments in time, talent, and dollars.
2. In order to care for your patients, you have to put your staff first
Physician burnout and staff turnover are happening in virtually every size and type of HCO. Simply put—if your employees aren’t satisfied, there’s little chance your patients will be. Engaged employees create better patient experiences. In fact, our research shows that patient interactions with nurses are a top driver of the overall experience. When your staff feels valued and engaged, they deliver—and patient recommendations increase. Investing in and retaining top-performing staff has a strong financial impact.
3. Patients are expecting modern care that fits into their modern lifestyles
Modern doesn’t necessarily mean the highest, most expensive level of technology available. But it does mean convenience capabilities that your patients are used to in their everyday world. This includes digital appointment scheduling, access to their medical records, account transparency, ability to communicate digitally with their doctor, and so much more. According to Forrester, in order to compete with the tech giants who are investing billions of dollars into disrupting healthcare delivery, provider organizations must adopt emerging technologies now to attract and retain both internal and external customers.
The Paradigm Shift is Here to Stay
The “retailization” of healthcare is more than just headline fodder. It’s a new reality. It’s ushering in complex challenges for providers (and payers, too). Health Savings Accounts are on the rise, giving people more control over purchase decisions. High-deductible plans and major employers are driving consumers to seek out value like never before. And the exponential increase in retail clinic locations, as well as the adoption of virtual care, means providers must manage an even wider set of competitors and delivery channels.
It all adds up to a consumer mindset—which means the patient experience has become to healthcare what the customer experience is to retail: everything.
This article was originally published by Service Management Group.