To say that healthcare is going through a rough patch right now might be the understatement of all understatements. After nearly 18 months of continuously battling COVID, healthcare organizations now face yet another surge of high coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. This heightened medical care marathon has understandably left providers and their staff exhausted and often frustrated.
In addition to their typical care load and responsibilities, care professionals have been asked to go the extra mile—and then some. But in the flurry of activity and efforts to meet the demands of the pandemic, it can be easy to lose focus on a critical component of care delivery—the patient experience. Patients themselves are dealing with a pile of challenges and stresses, some at a result of COVID. They may also need some extra attention and consideration during this difficult time.
What are we doing to offer a more satisfying care journey? Are we consistently delivering on patient expectations when it comes to clear and effective communication and providing a more convenient and hassle-free appointment experience?
Despite everything going on around them, providers need to stay laser-focused on ensuring that patients are not only receiving the care they need but that their having a satisfactory appointment experience. To do that, it’s important to evaluate how effectively we’re reaching patients and striving to make the care journey a more patient-centric one.
The following are several things to consider to enhance your patient engagement efforts and help patients clearly see that you’re doing everything you can to make their care journey—from booking the appointment to receiving post-care follow-up instruction—an optimal experience.
Adjust patient engagement strategies and practices so that patient ease and convenience is at the heart of all communication activities. Reevaluate how well you interact with your patients. How can your engagement strategies and practices be better aligned to meet their needs and expectations? Do you make it as easy for patients to connect with you using a variety of today’s modern communication technology methods? Do you have high no-show rates because you rely on less effective phone calls and manual systems for appointment reminders? Do you know each patient’s communication preferences and do you match them? Nothing shows patients that you care more than making frequent tweaks and improvement that demonstrate you’re attuned to their needs and adhering to patient engagement best practices.
Invest in and adopt technology solutions and practices based on current best practices and consumer trends. In a more consumer-driven healthcare space, patients have higher expectations about how their providers interact with them. Are you offering patients the most up-to-date methods to communicate about their appointments? Since text messaging is fast, easy, and accessible, do you take a text-first approach when it comes to connecting with patients? Do you use automation to make patient communication more personalized and efficient, and to reduce staff workload? To make communication truly patient-centric today, providers should strive to innovate and adopt tools and technologies that are consumer-friendly and responsive.
Make sure you’re getting accurate patient feedback in the most efficient way and act on it. Send automated electronic surveys for the best results gauging patient satisfaction and your performance in meeting their expectations and needs. Do you send out targeted patient surveys to specific groups of patients? Providers that offer a high level of friendly customer service, communicate effectively, and are responsive will solidify greater patient satisfaction results and loyalty.
Be a trusted source of patient education during COVID and beyond. As the pandemic evolves and new variants emerge, your patients have lots of questions about the virus, how to protect themselves, and the vaccines. Be proactive about sending targeted group text messages with links to well-sourced information about COVID and other relevant health issues that affect your patients’ health. Help your unvaccinated patients overcome their hesitancy by providing them with valuable information about the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
For more information about just how much patient communication preferences have changed in 2021, check out the white paper on the HIMSS/SR Health survey, “Patient Communication Preferences in 2021.”