The Hippocratic Oath sets a precedent for patient experience. From individual physicians to large-scale hospitals, the ethos of healthcare remains consistent: the patients’ needs rise above all else. Yet, with a shifting attitude from the patient’s end—one that favors choice in their healthcare options— and the rising healthcare consumerism, healthcare practices are focusing on the patient experience from a different lens. Customer experience.
Customer experience in healthcare refers to the holistic approach to treating a patient. It encompasses everything from the waiting room wait times to the quality of the medical treatment to the convenience of the online portal and beyond.
Patient-consumers—a now industry-standard term—are expecting more from their care experience. And for practices, improving your customer experience means gaining a competitive edge in the marketplace.
From Patient to Customer: What Spurred the Change?
It’s helpful to know why this shift from patient to customer happened in the first place. In a Deloitte interview, David Betts, leader of Customer and Digital Transformation for Health Care Providers, offered his perspective:1
“The establishment of an online retail marketplace for insurance is pushing customers to view their relationships with health care providers in the same way as they view their interactions with other service providers, such as financial companies—and so they are expecting the same level of customer care.”
Rather than patients accepting the status quo, patient-consumers are searching for the optimal experience. As more options become available to patients, patients can discriminate and “shop around” for the practice they want.
And what do patients want out of their practice? High-quality care, professional service, and value for their money:
“As health care costs take a growing bite out of the customer’s wallet, we are seeing individuals behave in economically rational ways. They are demanding a certain degree of service, quality, and value for their dollar. Value in the mind of the customer is not just clinical quality—there is a much greater emphasis on the service component as well.”
To that end, what should practices focus on when improving customer experience?
6 Pillars of Customer Experience in Healthcare
The expectations of customers in healthcare have undergone a significant change. Now, customers expect:
- Personalized care – Healthcare consumers expect care that is centered around their specific needs
- Simple and streamlined process – Patients don’t want to have to worry about how information gets from one place to another, thus the internal workings of data exchange in your organization shouldn’t impact their care
- Limited wait times – Consumers don’t want to spend hours waiting in your office for an appointment. Timeliness is key to a good customer experience.
- Transparency – Healthcare consumers want transparent doctor-to-patient communication. This transparency extends from their health records to the costs of care.
- Ease of access to care and care information – Patients want online portals where their health information is readily available, updated, and easily accessible. Additionally, health care providers should allow patients to schedule, change, or cancel appointments with ease.
- Data security – Patients want the peace of mind knowing that their private health information is secure.
Why Customer Experience is Important for Your Success
As an independent practice, you face stiff competition for patients. Your practice needs to demonstrate that it provides consumers with what they’re looking for in a healthcare provider.
In other words, you need to have a strong value proposition. By focusing on customer experience, you can:
- Land more competitive contracts with payors
- Retain current patients
- Cut down on wasteful practices to save money
- Bring in new patients through referrals
- Make your practice more efficient
How Can Your Practice Create a Better Experience?
Some of the best ways to improve customer experience in healthcare are through the use of technological advancements and customer data management.2 These methods, along with several others, can help your independent practice create a better experience for your customer.
- Collect data – Collecting and protecting data is the key to providing your patients with a streamlined healthcare experience. Consumers don’t want to have to track down records nor do they want to worry that their personal information might be compromised. In turn, access to patient data helps you to provide the most accurate and beneficial care for their needs
- Personalize patient experience – One reason a patient turns to an independent practice is that you can provide a more personalized patient experience. The patient should know that you care about them as an individual and want them to have a good experience in your office
- Offer transparency – Patients want and deserve transparency in your approach to their care and the costs of that care. Clear, honest communication between healthcare providers, and patients allows patients to make informed decisions about their care. It also builds a level of trust and respect between you and your customer
- Leverage technology – Many technologies can be used to make your patients’ experiences with your office run more smoothly. Teladoc can save your customers time and money for short visits that don’t require a patient to be in front of you in the office. Utilizing wearable technology can provide you with accurate data about your patients, their activities, and other critical information that allows you to better provide care
- Utilize AI – Pairing the use of AI with wearable technology can help your patients take some control over their care. Instead of having to visit your office for simple things like blood pressure checks, for example, your patient can use a wearable device and AI algorithm to determine if there is a cause for concern, a need to change medication dosage, or another update to their care3
- Produce positive outcomes – The ultimate factor in customer experience is the outcome. A positive outcome can mean many things in healthcare, but the goal is treatment and, hopefully, recovery, achieved with the highest level of comfort possible for the patient.
- Control patient costs – Healthcare is expensive, so anything your practice can do to cut down on patient costs without sacrificing the quality of their care only enhances your value proposition. Plus, by saving your patients money, your practice will create a more positive customer experience.
- Reduce practice costs – Eliminating unnecessary spending for your practice is another way to provide a better customer experience. When you don’t use valuable resources where they aren’t needed, you save money for technology and tools that will benefit your patients
- Understand your competition – To run a successful independent practice, you need to know who your competition is and what they are offering patients. Understanding their services, costs, and patient outcomes will help you organize and present your own favorably in comparison. Working with a contract management service can provide you with this valuable information
Common Customer Experience Pitfalls for Independent Practices
Creating an independent practice gives you more freedom as a provider. However, many challenges can prevent you from sustaining a successful practice and providing a positive patient experience.4 Some of the most common pitfalls of independent practices include:
- Medical billing – One of the most difficult tasks for independent practices is billing. It’s critical that your billing is done correctly and in a timely fashion. Managing the billing process can eat up valuable resources and time for your practice. Additionally, mistakes in billing will hurt your reputation for a positive patient experience and your revenue.
- Patient engagement – Patients want and expect individualized attention from their healthcare providers. However, it’s up to you to keep them actively engaged in the process. Checking in, showing patients how to use technology, and demonstrating that you care are all necessary parts of a successful practice.
- Contract negotiations – As an independent provider, negotiating the best contract rates is the key to maximizing revenue and bringing in new patients. It can be difficult to be competitive with the large organizations out there. Many independent practitioners find it best to outsource contract negotiating to get the best rates.
PayrHealth: The Support You Need to Provide Quality Customer Experience
Your practice wants to provide patients with the highest quality healthcare experience possible. Yet consumers today have different and more complex expectations about their care. To remain competitive, you need to focus on meeting these expectations.
To that end, tedious admin work like contract negotiations and revenue cycle management can eat away at your staff’s time, preventing them from providing the customer experience you want to offer.
That’s where PayrHealth can help.
As specialists in contract negotiations, the expert team at PayrHealth can increase your bottom line, all while providing you and your staff the time to create the most cohesive, enjoyable customer experience possible.
Contact us today to see how we can help.
- Deloitte. Elevating the Healthcare Customer Experience.https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/life-sciences-and-health-care/articles/elevating-health-care-consumer-experience.html
- Qminder. 6 Customer Experience Trends in Healthcare. https://www.qminder.com/customer-experience-trends-healthcare/
- Health IT Analytics. How Artificial Intelligence is Redefining Consumer Health Experiences. https://healthitanalytics.com/news/how-artificial-intelligence-is-redefining-consumer-health-experiences
- Sybrid MD. The Top Challenges That Independent Practices Are Facing In 2020. https://sybridmd.com/blogs/general/the-top-challenges-that-independent-practices-are-facing-in-2020/
- Managed Healthcare Executive. Considering the Journey to Improved Customer Experience in Healthcare. https://www.managedhealthcareexecutive.com/view/considering-journey-improved-customer-experience-healthcare