Why your Hospital Needs an Ease Strategy
A fundamental patient need too often missed by
No matter what the industry, an important driver of customer satisfaction is how easy a company is to do business with. In healthcare, there are extra levels of difficulty since, unlike many other consumer services, often customers don’t understand technical terms or complicated steps in the process. Healthcare also presents new levels of complications since lives are at stake. Physician groups and hospitals committed to being patient-centric must commit to addressing an important satisfier…making life as easy as possible for patients.
In 2020 Change Healthcare commissioned a study conducted by Harris Poll on the Healthcare Consumer Experience Index to better understand the patient experience. This survey of over 1900 consumers discovered that 62% believe “the healthcare experience feels like it is purposely set to be confusing,” and 2/3 said, “every step of the process in healthcare is a chore and not one aspect of healthcare was described as effortless”.
Ease often missed in Healthcare
After working with healthcare organizations throughout the US I’ve observed a variety of conditions that allow cumbersome, difficult, confusing and complex systems to impede patient satisfaction:
1 - Staff Needs Driving Systems
Of course, there are sound reasons policies and procedures must accommodate clinical staff however, when the patient is lost in the desire to comply with regulations and staffing schedules, dissatisfaction is likely.
2 - Regulations
Healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries, and most regulations are well-designed to support privacy, quality, and safe care. Unfortunately, some of these regulations can make life more complicated for sick and weak patients as they travel through the system.
3 - Too Big Syndrome
As hospitals and medical groups expand to offer a variety of services, and new technology in many locations, smooth travels through various departments can get complicated. Duplicative procedures and gaps in information transfer are common when one division has no idea what the other is doing, the patient bounces around.
4 - Technology Gone Wild
Of course technology solutions for diagnosis, treatment, and records management have offered great benefits for patients and caregivers alike however, there are times when technology benefits can prompt unintended patient complications. Taking time before launch to anticipate patient impact can reduce the potential dissatisfiers.
5 - Poor Expectations Management
One of the best ways to not delight customers is to spend no time preparing them to be customers. In healthcare, expectation management is crucial to support compliance and effective treatment. The design and implementation of detailed expectation management plans by specialty or facility involves extensive patient and visitor education.
Ease Enhancement Priorities
Certainly, an effective Ease Strategy depends on specific aspects of a medical service or specialty. There are some core ease enhancement approaches that would apply to most healthcare offerings:
1 - Easy to Use and Register Patient Portal
Electronic medical records and patient portals have revolutionized access to health information, scheduling, and contact with clinicians. Make sure this investment is easy for patients to register and maintain and make it easy for them to get help when needed.
2 - Patient Care Navigators
Often available for oncology patients, patient care navigators, or personal pathfinders can make the entire patient experience better by removing any sense of feeling lost. Although live chat and email navigation assistance are helpful, consistent access to a trusted navigator who gets to know each patient is the best option.
3 - One Call Systems
In addition to dedicated diagnosis-based navigators, the creation of a call center that can serve as a command central for patient questions and where they can speak with a knowledgeable live assistant. The organization benefits from improved customer contact management as inquiries are analyzed for ongoing improvement.
4 - Ease as a Commitment
It’s hard to achieve an objective when few people in the organization even understand the objective exists. Raising awareness throughout healthcare organizations will help align the organization on new ways to be patient-centered. Ease as a promise should be part of ongoing training and communication and those who achieve new levels of patient ease should be encouraged to share their knowledge broadly.
It’s important to face the fact that healthcare involves many levels of complexity and how easy or hard it is to find, understand, access, comply and pay for healthcare must be a leadership priority. The pursuit of an Ease Strategy to complement the quality and safety strategies is an important way to elevate care while protecting patient loyalty and satisfaction.
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