How Healthcare can Learn from Other Industries to Improve Patient Experience

by Mohamad El-Hinnawi

The healthcare industry is at a crossroads. The multi-layered nature of the sector has left it bloated and fraught with obstacles for patients and healthcare workers alike. Consultation delays, waiting lists, limited availability of beds, overworked staff, breakdowns in communication and being ‘lost’ in the system are all issues negatively affecting efficiency and satisfaction of staff and patients.

This pattern may be about to change, however, as advances in technology and a shift in mindset aims to raise standards and ease the stress on the system. Healthcare is learning from retail and hospitality and putting the patient first by increasing comfort, introducing AI to reduce the strain on staff, blockchain technology to secure patient records and performing many functions virtually to save time and reduce delays.

It is easy to say that the importance of quality healthcare has been highlighted during the past year but this move has in progress for some time, albeit undoubtedly accelerated due to recent demands on healthcare systems around the world.

The transformation in patient experience is being led by the same principles guiding effective customer experience in other industries: agreeing on definitive strategies, objectives and designing Voice of Customer programmes.

Understanding and addressing traditional obstacles to access will alleviate some stress on the administration while also offering patients a more rewarding experience. Additionally, the adoption of new and emerging technology has the potential to streamline many stages that patients find frustrating while freeing the workforce to spend quality time on crucial components of the patient journey.

Tech Trends in Healthcare

Healthcare is adopting the tech trends used in hospitality with in-room technology leading the way. Hospitals are increasing the size of their displays, providing patients with a tablet and launching virtual assistants to allow patients to order food, choose entertainment and even adjust the temperature of their room by themselves without having to contact a nurse, saving time and promoting independence.

The growth of mobile apps and AI has increased the ability for patients to complete tasks, resolve queries, seek information and guidance all without needing to see a healthcare worker. Platforms developed by healthcare providers also offer integrated, convenient access to policies, claims and payments, prescription renewals to further streamline the process.

Virtual rounds have become more common, too, allowing a clinician to speak face-to-face with multiple patients without having to be physically on-site. What is, and always has been, important is the relationship between doctor and patient, and next-generation technology is making it simpler for all.

The use of tech in the adoption of a patient-centric strategy has already shown how it can address the big-picture challenges such as efficiency, and the migration of non-clinical work to digital platforms increases consistency, reduces the workload on over-burdened nurses and improves patient safety.

Security and privacy are key issues as well, and the adoption of blockchain technology in the future has the potential to transform the patient experience by creating a secure indisputable record of transactions. Medical applications for this include a centralised secure storage facility for medical records which cannot be edited without verification. Records can be shared between all necessary parties eliminating friction between intermediaries, promoting collaboration across the entire network, leading to improved patient safety and enhanced satisfaction.

The potential of blockchain in healthcare has been examined for several years and widespread adoption is still in its infancy but its use in clinical trials and for patient data storage have shown positive results, especially regarding traceability and producing truthful data.

Analytics in Healthcare

The other main driver for improved patient experience is to proactively engage with their wants, needs and goals. In most businesses, the use of analytics to inform a company’s priorities is standard practice and borrowing from this sector can improve healthcare.

Unifying patient survey data to collect information from the widest possible range of sources along every step of the customer journey, and identifying what matters most to patients and pinpointing the changes required to have the biggest positive impact. Going a step further, the use of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) in any patient experience programme allows the service to measure itself against the larger consumer landscape and focus on meaningful action and improvement.

Ultimately, it is these actions and results that will inform the change in patient experience, and to be successful the data collected has to lead to action, which requires investment in implementing changes that will make the biggest difference to patients.

What comes after becoming patient-centric?

As the healthcare sector evolves into a patient-centric environment, the synergy between Brand Strategy, PX Strategy and business strategy converge to align company promises, the ability to deliver and patient experience to the organisation’s overall goals. This creates a point where all the people, data, technology and processes put in place yield clear results. These results in turn have a positive impact on employees who are now empowered to deliver better experiences to patients, and the patients themselves who experience the results first hand.

If you think your organization could benefit from a tailored patient experience strategy, please connect with us via [email protected]