In 2023, patient experience matters more than ever. Reimbursement depends heavily on results from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) health plan survey results. Going forward, the driver for an organization’s success and stability will be patient perceptions—not just health outcomes.
Over the past decade, healthcare has shifted drastically toward consumerism. Today’s consumers have everything they want at their fingertips, and they expect companies—even their healthcare providers—to simplify their lives. A complicated website will deter potential patients before they even begin their search for a provider. Do your webpages take longer than two seconds to load? Does your site look terrible when viewed on mobile? Does your content look disjointed and out of place? All these missteps impact your patients’ trust—and if they can’t trust your website, they won’t trust you.
To improve the patient experience and cultivate patients’ trust, start by modernizing your technology. This involves three key steps:
Make your website and portal more effective and engaging for patients by investing in digital solutions that improve the experience.
Unify information to make it easier to find.
Create open lines of communication that can help patients and potential patients feel more connected to caregivers.
By focusing on those three components, you’ll build credibility with your patients and lead them down the path toward finding a provider, scheduling an appointment, and becoming a dedicated member of your community.
Invest in Digital Solutions
Patients have shifted from passive observers to active participants in their own care—and they’ll shop for services until they find a simple, straightforward provider who can meet all their needs. By 2023, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of up to 55,000 primary care physicians, which means patients will be more likely to do their own research to find specialists who can help them, rather than wait for a referral.
Does your website streamline the process of finding a specialist? Can patients see which providers accept their insurance and which ones would be out of network? Do you have a pricing estimate sheet so patients can anticipate what seeing a certain doctor might cost? Looking at your website from a patient’s perspective will help you identify the barriers patients might face when seeking information about care offerings, provider availability, cost, and more.
To stay competitive, today’s health systems must invest in digital transformation. Studies show that patient-facing health IT solutions, also called P-Tech, positively impact the patient experience because they provide streamlined access to health data and simplify provider-patient communication. A user-friendly patient portal (such as Epic, Cerner EMR, or Meditech Expanse), enables patients to review physician notes, keep track of appointments, and send requests or questions to providers—all of which gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their care.
Your website should make your patient portal easily accessible and provide an immediate, straightforward pathway to portal engagement. The average website user spends less than a single minute on a site before exiting the page. Can patients navigate to their records and access their data within that timeframe? Ensuring your website connects with your portal without requiring excessive effort or searching from site visitors is the first step toward creating a successful patient experience.
Unify Information for Your Providers
A seamless front-end experience for patients starts with unified (or at least coherent) back-end processes. In every health system, patient information can get spread out across “data islands.” When engaging with patients, providers might not have an accurate picture of what they need because they’re missing crucial pieces of data. Other times, patients themselves are hindered from being able to add helpful information when the tools are not intuitive.
Your website should provide a simple solution that allows providers to see patient records and information holistically, rather than on individual islands. If your providers can’t navigate internal systems effectively, you can’t expect them to meet patients’ expectations—and the patient experience will suffer as a result. By unifying information and empowering providers to serve patients better, health systems can:
Enhance the quality and coordination of care
Optimize collaboration across multiple points of care
Provide insights on cost, volume quality, and opportunities within the health system
Improve patient outcomes
When providers have access to every aspect of a patient’s history and care experiences, they can make decisions that will positively impact patients and support high survey scores. Remember—the patient experience is about your providers as much as it’s about your patients. If providers cannot do their jobs, your patients will be less likely to trust your organization, and they’ll find different specialists who can give them the experience they want.
A modernized website will only improve the patient experience if it meets both your providers’ and your patients’ needs. It’s important to find a proven, credible technology partner who understands every aspect of your health system. The right partner will be able to develop custom internal solutions that prioritize your unique pain points and equip your providers to serve your patients better.
Create Open Lines of Communication
One of the fundamental tenets of consumerism is the need to meet consumers where they are. That also rings true for patient engagement. Several studies have linked nurse-patient communication to a positive patient experience. However, as the world becomes increasingly digital, patients might not have as many opportunities to engage with nurses, ask questions, and voice concerns. Creating an avenue for that through features on your website should be a top priority for healthcare executives.
When implemented correctly, patient engagement technology can lead to better HCAHPS scores related to Staff Responsiveness, Understood, Cleanliness, Quietness, Nurse Communication, Communication about Medicines, and Discharge Instructions domains. Patients don’t need face-to-face interactions to feel seen and heard—as long as the technology solution their provider has implemented provides the same clear, open communication opportunities as an in-person appointment would.
Improving the Patient Experience
Today’s health systems face the challenge of not just providing effective care for diverse populations, but also ensuring a simple, stress-free experience for everyone, regardless of demographics, background, ability level, or medical history. This starts with the first patient (or caregiver) touchpoint on your website and continues through every interaction they have with you. Consider these questions from your patients’ point of view:
Is it easy to find in-network doctors and specialists?
Can appointments be scheduled from your website or app?
Do patients have access to records and results in a single location? Is that location easy to find on your website?
Is your organization prioritizing price transparency—especially for common procedures and appointments?
Do providers have enough information to make educated and relevant recommendations for patients?
How accessible are your systems for people with different abilities? Do you conduct usability tests with people over the age of 65?
If your website, mobile app, and patient portal aren’t seamlessly connected, your patients will suffer—and so will their perception of your organization. In a world where patients often decide to switch providers and give their business to your competitors instead, you can’t afford to let a digital weakness break your patients’ trust. To learn how you can implement customized solutions that unite your data and simplify the patient experience, start a conversation with our team.