The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be the ultimate healthcare industry disruptor, like Netflix to the DVD industry – but instead of streaming video, it ushered in a steady stream of changes to care delivery and new patient expectations. While society has settled into a post-pandemic phase, these expectations remain and continue to evolve. In demand now are telehealth services, improved safety measures, behavioral health services, and, above all, patient-centered care that encourages shared decision-making, listening, and transparency.
That shift has challenged leaders and workforces who are trying to adapt while still coping with staffing deficits that have contributed to them feeling overworked and underappreciated. This new environment has moved the goalposts for what patient satisfaction in healthcare means and left many wondering how to improve patient experience (PX).
Our Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Jaglowski, connected with leaders across a variety of healthcare settings to discuss the state of PX and best practices they abide by. We noticed five central themes and hope that they’ll help you meet new challenges as well as your organizational goals.
1. Invest in patient engagement solutions
Critical information often comes from leader rounding, which serves a valuable purpose in understanding how to improve patient experience and should continue. However, surveys and digital patient engagement solutions can capture a deeper pool of insights. Leveraging technology to administer surveys offers benefits such as:
- Anonymity: Detaching names from surveys encourages more honest responses.
- Scalability: Surveys can be administered to all patients who receive medical care in your facility rather than a small sample, providing a more accurate picture of the average experience.
- Standardization: Every respondent receives the same questions in the same order, making it simpler to compare responses and analyze data.
- Convenience: Surveys can be conducted after the patient is discharged, making it easier for them to participate.
Your director of patient experience is critical to identifying the right questions to ask patients and collecting measurable data through real-time surveys. Continually using insights from this data to inform service recovery drives improved quality of care, enhanced patient loyalty, continuous improvement, compliance with regulatory requirements, and demonstrated accountability to patients and stakeholders.
“By investing in a deeper understanding of the metrics, both for outcome and process tracking, healthcare teams can be far more equipped to evaluate and impact the patient’s experience in real time,” said Knox Singleton, former CEO of Inova Health System.
It’s also critical to track performance with the right platform. Singleton added, “without a tool in place to measure these metrics in real time, any healthcare organization will be at a noticeable disadvantage.”
2. Establish real-time transparency
Executives also noted that a quarterly review of metrics covering patient satisfaction in healthcare doesn’t cut it when holding larger discussions about how to improve patient experience. Though you may receive transparent feedback from a patient, you’re waiting up to three whole months to hear it and react to it, leaving the door open to repeating the same avoidable mistakes. No one has time for that. Except the competition, who will gladly scoop up the patients you’ve left behind.
Additionally, this approach facilitates negative word-of-mouth reviews; imagine one patient’s frustration when they have a poor experience, share that through their patient satisfaction survey, and then find out an acquaintance experienced the very same adverse event two months later.
Organizations are instead looking for real-time transparency into patient satisfaction scores and comments so they can not only respond to that patient promptly but also change the way they deliver care. Using digital platforms and patient engagement solutions not only transforms the healthcare experience but creates a rewarding environment for the care team.
“Our real-time patient feedback platform allows my team to collect raw patient feedback and distill the most crucial insights in a matter of seconds,” explained Kathy Ritch, Director of Service Excellence, High Point Regional Hospital. “It gives my team and me complete transparency over what is going on in the hospital so that I can make sure our team is recovering any service issues that patients might have prior to discharge.”
3. Connect prior to discharge
Most of the individuals we spoke with expressed frustration that they had no way to learn about a patient’s concerns until after the patient had been discharged. This unfortunate status quo is no longer a limitation. (Cue the “hallelujah” from your favorite director of patient experience.) By investing in a real-time patient feedback and information management platform that automatically communicates patient concerns to on-duty teams, organizations can perform service recovery before patients even leave the hospital.
Chaneka Pigatt, COO of CareSouth Carolina, said: “With our real-time patient feedback system, the site administrator knows in real time whether a patient had a good or bad experience and can contact that patient directly if he or she left a response that warrants service recovery. And all data is in personalized dashboards, so you can quickly identify trends and create better best practices for the overall footprint.”
4. Develop a learning culture
Data is only meaningful in an organization that encourages and values continuous learning and professional development. A learning culture is led by people open to new ideas and perspectives. It promotes flexibility and innovation, provides a supportive environment, emphasizes ongoing improvement, and perhaps most important, focuses on outcomes.
The leaders pushing healthcare into a new age can only understand how to improve patient experience when they are unafraid to hear patient concerns and criticisms, are invested in evolving their operations, and are willing to implement short- and long-term solutions to the problems they uncover. And they must survey regularly with a platform that meets their PX needs.
“Before implementing a real-time patient feedback platform we were collecting lengthy, annual surveys that received very low response rates,” recalled Jack Bretcher, COO at PartnerMD. “Receiving this survey data several months after patients’ most recent experiences with us resulted in our team struggling to find value from the limited volume of insights.”
To correctly leverage the data provided by patient engagement solutions, leaders must also ensure that team members feel a sense of psychological safety so they can share what went wrong during a patient interaction without fear of reprisal. Likewise, team members need to feel comfortable presenting innovative ideas to foster patient satisfaction.
5. Hear from patients in their own words
Many healthcare surveys limit patients to providing feedback on a numerical or multiple-choice scale, with no option to provide additional insight. While this may allow for easier benchmarking, it deters patients from supplying key details about why they gave a specific score or felt a certain way. If you want to truly learn how to improve patient experience, it’s essential that you give patients a way to provide open-text feedback.
Jennifer Allison, Manager at Inova VIP 360, echoes this sentiment: “It has been great to hear from patients in their own words about the care that we provided. We have been able to diagnose issues with the patient’s experience as soon as they arise and make adjustments to the patient’s journey.”
Enhance PX and patient satisfaction in healthcare with Feedtrail
Feedtrail’s experience management platform can help you implement these best practices at your organization. Engage at critical moments of each patient’s journey before, during, and after their visit, and gain powerful insights that can change your organization’s trajectory for the better. With the right tools in place, you can rest assured that your patients consistently feel recognized and heard.
To learn how the platform can support your organization, contact us today.
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