Guest Column | November 23, 2018

Show Patients You Care And They'll Show You Gratitude

Barrett Coakley, ClickSoftware

Do New Standards Make It Easier To Involve Patients In Research?

In recent years, consumer expectations around what constitutes an exceptional service experience have changed, and patient care is not immune to this movement. In today’s world of on-demand service, patients expect real-time communication and transparency from their healthcare provider. To meet this need, healthcare organizations are moving toward a value-based care model where quality of care is prioritized over quantity.

Value-based care strives to improve individual health outcomes through the active collaboration and shared decision making between patients, families and providers, to create a customized and comprehensive care plan. Providers are viewing patient care more holistically, which not only results in improved outcomes and patient experience, but also presents healthcare providers with an opportunity to optimize and streamline internal processes, reducing costs and allocating resources more efficiently.

To forge truly exceptional patient relationships and adapt to the new value-based care model, consider the following strategies.

Offer A Consistent Experience

Although difficult, it’s important to implement a seamless, consistent experience across multiple channels from online inquiries to in-person appointments. To create consistency and prove your commitment to quality outcomes, start by defining a mission statement that aligns business goals with patient satisfaction. This approach helps make end goals clear from the beginning and start everyone on the same page. As more channels are juggled, your mission statement will reinforce brand identity.

Produce Knowledgeable Employees

The on-demand economy has reached everyone, from patients who expect service at the push of a button, to employees who must be equipped with the right technologies for success. This shift in service expectations means that providers must integrate mobile workforce technology into their operations. Coupled with the fact that the digitally native millennial generation represents the next wave of healthcare workers, it stands to reason that innovation in this industry is critical - both to meet patient expectations and to ensure and attract top talent who are engaged and productive. Millennials, more than any other generation in the workforce, expect to work with the latest technologies. As the population ages, and current health workers retire, they are being replaced by these younger workers. Healthcare providers need to offer experiences that keep employees happy, so they will commit to offering the very best care for patients that rely on their dedication to service. For instance, it is not enough to provide a schedule on the day of service. Nurses and others need to know their schedules in advance so they can plan their own lives. Scheduling in advance and being able to forecast demand will help create happy, engaged and committed employees.

Keep Track Of The Patient Journey

Healtcare providers should consider how technology will impact the amount of effort patients expend in order to receive the care they need. Remember, the patient journey begins at the first touchpoint, well before a healthcare worker arrives. As such, developing a patient journey map will help your organization identify areas that can be streamlined and improved to reduce effort on the part of the patient. Cross channel touch points such as your website, call center and even the ease of interacting with the caregiver must be optimized to improve the patient journey.

Make Scheduling Appointments Painless

Scheduling is often overlooked as a key to employee and patient satisfaction, but it is actually one of the most complex parts of your operations, particularly as your team grows. Not only does a healthcare worker need to be in the right place at the right time, but they need to have the right equipment for the patient’s case, and qualifications to administer the proper treatments. Add to this environmental factors that can affect scheduling like traffic and weather conditions that can make a provider late for an appointment, and schedules are bound to sometimes need reshuffling.

Automating scheduling decisions is a game changer for service providers. Technology like artificial intelligence (AI) uses historical data and can reduce idle time, predict travel times and allow for the quick reorganizing of resources when necessary. The data also can identify root causes of inefficiencies including details around what’s happening and why. For instance, estimating accurate travel time is not just an aspiration for providers, it’s essential for maximizing efficiency, and making firm commitments to patients. While the level of detail and visibility available for decision making can be daunting, employing optimized scheduling delivers significant benefits, including efficiency but more importantly, high quality care.

By focusing on the basics of service delivery like forecasting demand and associated resource capacity planning along with optimized scheduling, healthcare providers can satisfy patient needs by meeting their expectations for experience and care. Great experiences provide convenience and communication, but far too many providers still rely on outdated service strategies and technology that can’t adapt to the complexities associated with growth.

This holiday season count yours among the organizations that puts patients first, and start utilizing the right strategies that keep them thankful for your care.

About The Author

Barrett Coakley is Industry Marketing Manager at ClickSoftware.