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3 Challenges in improving patient experience and satisfaction

Written by Alida

Published September 01, 2020

Health care is no longer different than many consumer-driven industries in that it’s not immune to disruption. In health care, delivering a patient experience that meets—even exceeds—expectations is just as critical as a good customer experience in retail.

While health care organizations do have to work within certain regulatory frameworks, they must also deal with digital-first competitors and transformative technologies. That’s why patient experience has become a big priority. According to the consultancy Impact Advisors and Scottsdale Institute, finding ways to improve digital health and optimize patient experience is by far the most important task for health care technology decision makers today.

Improving patient experience is an investment worth making. According to a Deloitte study, higher patient experience ratings are associated with higher profitability. Hospitals with "excellent" patient ratings see a net margin of 4.7%, on average, compared to just 1.8% for hospitals with "low" ratings.

According to a Deloitte study, higher patient experience ratings are associated with higher profitability.

So what’s stopping health care organizations from delivering better patient care? There are at least three fundamental challenges facing the industry today. 

Challenge 1: Lack of leadership to drive patient centricity

Just as retailers suffer when they don’t put the customer first, health care organizations must put their own “customers” first, according to digital strategy expert Ed Bennett.

“There needs to be a general agreement among all major players in your organization that delivering patient-centric care is a priority,” wrote Bennett in a recent blog post. “The leadership team must create a mandate that patient experience should come first.”

Bennett adds that health care organizations must change their structure to deliver better, more seamless services to patients. Having a champion of patient-centricity can help. For example, organizations such as the Cleveland Clinic enlisted chief experience officers to drive the transformation necessary for better a patient experience.

“The leadership team must create a mandate that patient experience should come first.”

Health care organizations need to see patient experience as a long-term initiative. “Band-Aid solutions won’t do because the poor patient experience plaguing the industry today is rooted in how hospitals and health organizations are structured,” explains Bennett.

Challenge 2: Lagging behind other industries

Patient expectations are rising because other industries are setting the standard for customer experience. Today, when people go to a health care organization, they expect the same seamless interactions they get from tech companies and retailers. In other words, getting care should be as easy as buying something on Amazon.

Millennials in particular are driving these expectations, but most health care organizations aren’t ready. They lag behind retail, hospitality and other industries in delivering innovation and a better customer experience, while millennials are rejecting the traditional model of accessing health care. Cost is a big reason. Millennials need to see value and know that the services are worth paying for.

"Millennials need to see value and know that the services are worth paying for."

They also look at health care services like any other product they’re purchasing in that they will Google and “self-diagnose” in advance. Millennials want information that’s easy to understand at their fingertips before they spend money on services. To better serve tech-savvy patients, health care organizations need to better understand the evolving needs and expectations of these consumers.

Challenge 3: Feedback is slow, expensive and not scalable

Given the consumerization of the industry, health care organizations need to incorporate the voice of the patient in their decision making in the same way that other industries rely on customer insight and data. Unfortunately, the current approaches to gathering input from patients, doctors and nurses are slow, expensive and not scalable.

If the patient experience is to be improved, health care organizations must measure their relationships with patients better.  But a recent study found that while 52% of health care providers said they measure specific experience metrics (including satisfaction with an appointment), only 23% measure their consumer relationships.

Technology alone won’t improve the patient experience, but going digital can enable a deeper understanding of patients. For example, Aurora Health Care has developed three-step process to help it understand how each market segment approaches health care, identify pain points in the digital journey and develop personalized messaging for each step of that journey.

Only 23% of health care providers measure their consumer relationships.

Using digital channels to solicit ongoing feedback from its community has been essential to create a truly patient-centric organization. Feedback is shared throughout Aurora Health Care to guide decisions that affect the patient experience. It also solicits feedback from employees, enabling a 360-degree view of the organization.

Improve the prognosis for patient experience

Consumer expectations are driving patient expectations, which means you need actionable insights from both the people receiving health care and delivering it. Having a platform in place to help diagnose the state of your current patient experience can help you make tangible changes to improve it—something you can learn all about from the Aurora Health Care webinar.