Unlocking the Patient Journey to Provide a Better Experience
With healthcare giants like Walgreens and non-healthcare giants like Best Buy making significant moves to streamline the patient experience in the healthcare space, patients hold the cards for the future of healthcare. Right now, that future is in turbulent waters.
A recent study shows that the customer experience for elective healthcare patients, in particular, is failing to meet basic standards. In fact, only 39% are satisfied with the results of their procedure. Yet, it is the quality of the complete experience – not just the quality of procedural outcome – that principally determines their feelings toward providers. The solution won't be found by looking at things in silo. Yes, you need to focus on providing better care. Yes, you need to ensure your marketing communicates to patients in a meaningful way. But, more than that, it is clear that traditional providers should be looking at their patient's journey and how these customer experience-focused giants are accommodating their needs.
Future of Healthcare is Going to Look Significantly Different
In the past, if you wanted or needed a medical procedure, medical advice, or even to speak to a doctor, the path for a patient was linear. Now, with patients looking to consolidate services, include lifestyle and wellness activities in their healthcare plan and lean into technology-aided experiences, traditional healthcare networks are up against more than just each other. Providers are no longer just competing with their local hospital, urgent care or private practice down the street. That competition has expanded to pharmacies, technology companies and new-age practices that tout additional patient perks to garner loyalty and allow them to build an ongoing relationship early in the patient journey.
Patient's Seek a Frictionless Experience That Puts Them in Control
Looking at the medical landscape and seeing news of Walgreens investing in CareCentrix or Best Buy acquiring Current Health, it is clear that the competition in the health and wellness space is expanding. To stay relevant in their offerings, traditional medical networks and providers will need to lean into ever changing patient expectations and consider the holistic patient experience. Patients are no longer satisfied with a mediocre or good enough appointment with their healthcare provider, complicated billing processes, or reactive health planning. The patient journey is calling for a frictionless experience that puts the patient in control of their health and makes their provider a partner in their ongoing care.
Insights From Elective Patients can be Applied Across Healthcare Providers
Recent research on elective healthcare procedures in LaneTerralever's Elective Healthcare Modern Patient Insights Report shows trends in patient desires that can be applied across the entire industry. If the patient experience and expectations are going to look different in the future,taking a look at an area of medical treatment that is already seeing this trend can fuel customer experience transformation throughout all healthcare systems.
What we know about the elective healthcare experience is that there are glaring gaps in the patient experience and patients are as frustrated here as they are in other areas of medical treatment. So, what can we stand to learn from these insights?
Patients are Evaluating Fewer Providers
As soon as the patient journey begins, patients are looking for a provider they can trust. According to research, 78% of elective procedure patients only evaluated one or two providers and 64% made their decision on a provider based on three months or less of research. This type of decision is made through a few different factors. Of course, many patients are looking at costs associated, provider availability and if the procedure is wholly necessary.
The other factor that stands out is the exploration of reviews. Patients are leaning into the people who have been through the experience already to tell them if the provider is going to live up to their expectations. In a survey by One Poll, it was discovered that 97% of millennials found online doctor reviews reliable. This means that patients evaluate their overall experience by focusing on facets of care that will make a difference.
Patients Crave Clear Expectations
Many patients struggle to understand what to expect from their provider and the procedure itself. Research suggests that, once a provider was chosen, 44% of patients were left feeling that their questions weren't answered. 56% weren't clear on the costs associated with their procedure and only 32% felt confident enough to schedule an initial appointment in three weeks or fewer. As providers and healthcare networks, you need to remove the barriers to understanding from the patient journey and provide the information they are seeking up front. A frictionless patient experience begins in the research and decision making phase and can be the make or break in the relationship with your patients.
Post-Op Engagement Generates Advocacy
Getting a patient in the door and onto the operating table is one thing, but continued connection, especially with elective procedures, is essential to building patient trust, loyalty and, most importantly, advocacy. LaneTerralever also found that 56% of providers are not following up with patients proactively post-op, and 28% are only following up with a patient in regards to billing.
"It felt like they sold me on the procedure, and once it was done, they were finished with me," said John C, a 61-year-old patient.
This type of feeling isn't uncommon; your relationship with your patients and the reasons they'll find to continue to choose you or recommend you are established from the first touchpoint through their procedure and beyond.
What Can Providers Do Now?
There are several learnings we can take from the insights above to ultimately make the patient experience a better, more seamless one. While many enhancements to patient experience can seem costly and time intensive, we believe it is best to focus on the strategies that have a big impact and can still be implemented quickly.
Be Proactive in Reputation Management
The first step is to take a proactive role in reputation management. Knowing that patients will lean on reviews first, make them available, consistently updated and engaged with by providers. This is the first impression your patients will have and ensuring your digital reputation precedes you is always a good idea.
Provide Education Content Early
Next, make sure that expectations for your patients are clear and the research and education they need is available to them. You can turn your expertise into content to demonstrate your authority in the space and educate your patients further before ever meeting them face to face. Answer some of their most pressing questions through useful resources and begin the trust-building process in a natural way much earlier in the patient journey.
Find Ways to Humanize Your Providers
Finally, your patients are people first. Humanizing their experience before, during and after their in-person procedure can go a long way to build trust and make the patient experience more pleasant for them and build their confidence in you as a provider. Instead of allowing them to feel tossed aside post-procedure, make an effort to provide them with lasting support. Sending updates and reminders, providing individualized follow up and understanding their unique medical needs and healthcare plan go a long way to create lasting patient relationships.
Investing in Your Patient Experience
Nothing will set providers and healthcare networks up for success more than taking more ownership over their patient experience. From the exploration and research phase, provider selection, through the procedure phase and into the advocacy phase, your patient's expectations must be considered. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to patients and ensuring they feel connected based on their motivations. How they found you and their pre-existing expectations is key — we are no longer leaning on one patient-doctor interaction to seal the deal.
LaneTerralever helps healthcare providers attract qualified patients and improve satisfaction with creative lead generation and seamless digital patient experiences. The CX marketing agency has increased patient volume and satisfaction for providers including HonorHealth, American Vision Partners, Landmark Recovery, NextCare Urgent Care, The Joint Chiropractic, Phoenix Children's and Risas Dental and Braces.