Unpacking the Patient Journey: Challenges and Opportunities

For people who’ve worked at least a few years in the U.S. healthcare industry, it can be difficult to reflect on the busiest and hardest days of COVID-19 – and near impossible to consider ever again facing the existential threats the pandemic posed. Hospitals and other facilities were packed to the brim. Operational leaders had to innovate simply to maintain industry standards. And forget carpe diem – most care teams strived to simply survive the day. 

All of this culminated in an unfortunate turn for the worse: declines in patient experience across just about all hospitals. But these difficult times? Sadly, they aren’t just going away. The industry is still dealing with outdated infrastructure, strained resources, and historic labor shortages, resulting in a dim outlook several years after the pandemic’s onset. 

As many healthcare organizations look for the light at the end of this public health emergency, what lessons can they carry into the future? And what solutions are best suited for closing gaps in the patient journey? 

Challenges to a seamless care experience

There’s no question that healthcare leaders have increasingly prioritized the patient experience. But despite these efforts, some research shows an uptick in negative healthcare interactions reported by patients. Some principal points of friction people face include: 

1. Extended wait times – Waiting for an appointment doesn’t just feel like it’s taking longer. One source cites a 2022 survey that found it now takes 26 days (nearly an entire month!) to schedule a doctor visit — a 24% jump from 2004.  

2. Communication gaps – Ensuring clear and compassionate communication in the healthcare setting is difficult for even the most seasoned providers. Almost two-thirds of patients forget to ask important questions during their visits. And most medical terms clinicians use baffle the people they treat, creating a potentially confusing patient journey. 

3. Burned-out healthcare workers – Simply put, the healthcare workforce is not okay. Medical professionals are burned out, stretched thin, and leaving the field as a result. One of the main contributors to record burnout is unreasonable workloads. And as clinicians are overburdened by stress, their engagement declines — possibly impacting the care they deliver and patient experience measures. 

    What these pervading problems suggest is that, despite the emergence of technological advancements that potentially could streamline care operations and satisfy stakeholders across the care continuum, innovation has yet to address some of the core friction points that present real barriers for patients and providers. 

    Free eBook – The Care Necessities: A Simple Guide to Elevating Patient Experience

    The emergence of healthcare consumerism and the patient voice

    Prioritizing patient experience is essential as healthcare organizations seek to improve the patient journey and incorporate the patient voice into improvements. And a logical starting point has been to understand how to better reach patients where they are, when they need assistance the most.  

    One primary trend is digital consumerism. Patients increasingly expect a digital-first care experience when interacting with providers. For example, an Experian Health report found that most patients crave digital platforms for appointment setting, paying bills, and navigating their care journeys.  

    Going hand-in-hand with an increasing preference for digital-first care are higher standards for providers. EHRs undoubtedly streamlined clinical workflows. But they’ve also put pressure on care teams to collect more patient data, meaning more time looking at a computer screen and less time looking at patients in the eye. Recent research found 61% of patients want better engagement from their medical professionals. 

    Delivering patient-first care in a digital world

    There’s no question that evolving consumerism trends have influenced patient expectations of care. Patients increasingly are demanding more seamless, convenient, and personalized experiences from their providers across the patient journey. 

    Here are some notable features to look for: 

    1. Real-time feedback – Taking a manual approach to a digital healthcare landscape is no longer an option. Organizations must embrace digital patient engagement solutions that gauge patient experience measures in the moment to truly empower care teams with the right data to deliver best-in-class care. 

    2. User-centric digital interfaces It’s not enough to embrace digitization. Healthcare organizations must consider the impact of their digital technology choices on user experience. For example, most patients want to use one platform for navigating their care experience, so providers should restrict the amount of fragmented point solutions they put in front of those they treat. 

    3. Rapid resolutions to subpar experiences – Beyond understanding patient concerns in real time, providers must also act upon this data quickly to meet higher expectations of care. This means that digital tools for collecting and organizing patient-reported information must also be accessible and understandable to care teams that need to use them. 

    Reimagine medical reputation management

    To elevate patient experience and strengthen your brand in an ever-evolving healthcare landscape, you can no longer rely on outdated listening systems. You need a dedicated partner like Feedtrail to engage patients by asking them exactly the right questions at exactly the right time to understand friction points and areas of improvement. 

    Feedtrail’s experts have developed a comprehensive solution that streamlines patient engagement, service recovery, and medical reputation management, so your staff aren’t burdened by another fragmented platform and they’re able to keep an eye on concerns across the entire patient journey. Contact us today to learn more about how Feedtrail’s real-time healthcare experience management technology and digital patient engagement tools can help you unlock new levels of patient satisfaction.  

    The Care Necessities: A SimpleGuide to Elevating Patient Experience

    About Mallory Magelli McKeown, Customer Success: Meet Mallory, a healthcare professional dedicated to improving the patient experience. With a background in roles like chaplain and family advocate, Mallory’s mission is simplifying healthcare for patients and families. From advisory councils to patient advocacy, she amplifies the patient’s voice. At Feedtrail, she redefines the patient-provider relationship, asking vital questions to guide healthcare leaders toward patient-centered changes. Her goal: revolutionizing healthcare by putting patients’ needs first.