Industry Voices—Improving the patient experience through tech is key to loyalty

One proven method to increase patient loyalty is to decrease the amount of friction in the patient journey with your organization. (Getty/nortonrsx)

The shift toward value-based reimbursements has increased the stakes for healthcare providers to deliver quality care and provide an exceptional patient experience.

These reimbursements may require providers to report and track numerous measures, including patient engagement, meaning that home healthcare companies must focus on delivering an excellent patient experience. In recent years, consumer expectations around what constitutes a superior 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 providers.

Coupled with the fact that patients and their families have more options than ever to demonstrate dissatisfaction, and because 40% of patients admit they are not loyal to a hospital or health system, the question becomes: How can home health companies improve patient experience to increase loyalty?

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One proven method to increase loyalty is to decrease the amount of friction in the patient journey with your organization.

RELATED: Sorry, hospitals. Spending on brand promotion apparently doesn’t inspire patient loyalty

As evidenced by Gartner, who developed the Customer Effort Score, the amount of energy a customer employs during a service interaction has a direct impact on such measures as Net Promoter Score (NPS), revenue generation, cost control and even employee retention. By understanding this metric and the impact the patient experience has on results, home healthcare providers can make operational improvements across the overall journey.

The patient journey should be top of mind when adopting technology to impact the experience and to streamline processes. 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 home healthcare worker arrives at the door.

RELATED: Relationships top predictor of patient loyalty

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.

Tight cross-channel integration, such as implementing customizable rules that routes callers to the right agent, location or call center the first time, without long wait times or the need to repeat information, improves the patient journey. This integration lowers the chance the patient will have to start all over again when transferred between departments, a situation which causes frustration for the patient. It also helps home health workers in the field to have a record of all patient interactions so they are aware of any issues that could impact care.

One method to improve the patient experience and increase loyalty is to implement field service management (FSM) software.

RELATED: Primary care doctors spend more than 50% of workday on EHR tasks, American Medical Association study finds

FSM is used in other service-intensive industries to improve the overall customer experience, reduce costs and increase revenues. FSM optimizes caregiver scheduling through efficient routing and real-time traffic updates so aides arrive on-time, as well as enable communication with the patients to let them know their location and estimated arrival time. FSM increases patient satisfaction because they know when the aid will arrive, relieving some stress that might be associated with the visit.

As an added benefit, caregivers are able to maximize their time doing what they do best, delivering care to patients, rather than driving.

Improving the patient’s journey to access care is critical for home health companies to create loyal patients. Home healthcare providers should explore technology as a key component of patient journey mapping to improve the customer experience and increase revenues.

Barrett Coakley is a software product marketing professional with expertise in on-premise and (Software-as-a-Service) SaaS-based solutions for businesses of all sizes, whose specialties include cloud and SaaS marketing, identity management and digital workflows.

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