What Does Exceptional Patient Experience in Healthcare Mean?


Paul Jaglowski
by Christine Serafin, Customer Success 
November 22nd
Let’s face it: There’s a lot of jargon in healthcare. In some ways, that’s unavoidable. Care delivery involves distinct understandings of medical complexities, best practices, industry standards, and treatment plans. But to the everyday patient, much of what’s communicated can get lost in translation. 

For instance, one University of Missouri study  found patients not only misunderstand many medical terms doctors commonly use when speaking with them, but they actually derive opposite meanings from convoluted healthcare language. 

Terms communicated between healthcare professionals also often hold little weight unless they’re clearly defined. One such term that comes up daily within healthcare organizations is patient experience. On its face, the patient experience in healthcare encompasses how patients perceive their care episodes, subsequent interactions during treatment, and other touchpoints throughout their care journeys. 

But why is this concept so crucial to effective care delivery? What aspects of the patient experience cause it to decline? And how can healthcare organizations course-correct to improve? 

To fully grasp the patient experience at your physician practice, community clinic, or other healthcare facility, let’s dive into some basics and discuss how to refine your continuous listening strategy to exceed patients’ expectations of care. 

Free eBook – Engaging Your Patients: Pre, During, and Post Encounter

What is patient experience?


Across the intricate healthcare landscape, the patient experience emerges as a vital thread — weaving together the emotional, physical, and psychological aspects of an individual’s journey through medical care.  

It transcends the mere administration of treatments and diagnostic procedures, extending its reach into the realms of communication, empathy, and overall well-being. At its core, the patient experience is a reflection of a larger end-to-end care journey.

Ultimately, when patients have more positive experiences with their healthcare providers, they report being more satisfied with their level of care. And when people are more satisfied with their level of care, they’re more likely to trust their go-to provider for future healthcare needs. 

But it’s not just patient satisfaction, and thus loyalty, that improves with better patient experience in healthcare. Evidence points to its central role in bolstering more positive health outcomes and preventing harm. It’s also closely tied to increasing NPS (Net Promoter Scores). Overall, understanding the patient experience is essential for improvement across the continuum of care. 


What are some challenges to a positive patient experience?  


Interpersonal dynamics are a core piece of what shapes a patient’s perception of their overall experience and satisfaction. That’s why everything from how prepared patients feel for appointments to their interactions with care teams to how well-informed they are after discharge affects it.  

But a lot of variables can get in the way of a seamless patient experience at any given touchpoint. Some potential challenges include:


1. Long wait times

There’s no question that long wait times are damaging patient experience levels. According to the Association of American Nurse Practitioners, 26% of patients wait two months or more for their appointments, and over half give up seeking care entirely when faced with unreasonable wait times.


2. Limited digital support

Patients want digital-first, convenient channels for navigating their care journeys. Our increasingly consumer-centric world amplifies the need for a more personalized patient experience. As people are more accustomed to getting what they want at the click of a button, they’re expecting the same customer experience in healthcare.


3. Poor provider engagement

By their nature, healthcare environments are somewhat sterile. If patients experience impersonal or disengaged caregivers, the care setting feels even more disconnected. That’s not to mention the impact of harmful medical errors that could be tied to declines in physician engagement — an obvious threat to the patient experience for all providers.


4. Failed transitions of care

It’s no secret that poorly conducted transitions of care affect outcomes. Unfortunately, 49% of patients experience at least one medical error after discharge. Not only could that inflict harm (unintended or not), but it also erodes the trust patients place in your establishment.

What actionable strategies support exceptional patient experience?


Patient experience in healthcare truly is about more than just clinicians diagnosing, explaining, and treating ailments — it involves understanding the unique needs, fears, and hopes of each individual. Hinging on the connection between healthcare providers and those seeking care, the human experience can’t be denied as a key puzzle piece to understanding what is patient experience at its core, as well as how it impacts patient satisfaction at both the personal and collective levels.  

To systematically assess how people experience care from their individual perspectives, organizations across the country have adopted patient survey strategies. But the truth is that many of these methods fall short of providing accurate insights into evolving patient needs.  

They often take the form of outdated, paper questionnaires — yielding few responses and even creating friction for patients. Vendors tasked with assisting health systems to understand the patient experience usually take months to deliver gleaned information to leadership for decision-making. All of this leaves care teams in the dark and patients wondering if their voices are going unheard. 

Free eBook – Engaging Your Patients: Pre, During, and Post Encounter

That’s why some innovative strategies have emerged for advancing these efforts forward: 


1. Continuously listen to patients at every touchpoint 

Care delivery doesn’t just happen at the bedside. Before patients enter your hospital or practice and when they return home from the doctor, care journeys continue. It’s only natural that the patient experience in healthcare still goes on well beyond the confines of healthcare facility walls. Shouldn’t your PX strategy do the same? Make sure to not only think about how patients experience care on location, but also how they might view your healthcare organization before their visit and how you assist them after discharge. 


2. Opt for digital-first patient experience survey platforms 

Paper surveys just don’t cut it anymore. Partly due to physical restrictions emerging from the pandemic, 60% of patients desire digital-first approaches to care. That’s why any effective modern-day patient experience program that emphasizes customer experience in healthcare must have a robust digital-first format. It’s key for engaging patients in a way they’re comfortable with and streamlining data collection to empower your providers with real-time insights. 


3. Measure your workforce experience, too 

Care team engagement is classically tied to better patient experience. But your care teams won’t engage consistently and effectively with patients unless they, too, have satisfactory experiences on the job. Extend your survey research to your workforce to understand their pain points and drive better decision-making to foster more supportive work environments. 


4. Make your data accessible for care teams 

There’s a lot of data in healthcare. And, unfortunately, a lot of it remains fragmented and unorganized. Carefully vet new technologies and tools to ensure they simplify data collection, then visualize it in real time for your care teams to use in an actionable way. 


Achieve better patient experience with a better PX platform 


There isn’t one panacea for unlocking a better patient experience in healthcare. But there is a better way to measure patient experience to get to a better place. 

Feedtrail’s comprehensive patient experience platform checks all the boxes when it comes to gathering patient feedback and closing the loop to give your care teams the information they need to course-correct. 

Find out how Feedtrail can boost your patient experience program by speaking with one of our experts. 


Ebook – Engaging Your Patients: Pre, During, and Post Encounter


About Christine Serafin, Customer Success: Meet Christine, a results-driven Customer Success Manager at Feedtrail with extensive expertise in implementing software solutions, especially in the SaaS realm. Her organizational skills excel in seamlessly aligning software implementations with organizational objectives. With a background in project management, training, and customer satisfaction, she brings a proactive and versatile approach to ensure the successful integration of cutting-edge software solutions. Christine is passionately dedicated to the success of Feedtrail’s customers, enhancing their patient experience through innovative software solutions.