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How to improve the patient experience in 4 steps

Published: May 23, 2024 by Experian Health

How-to-improve-the-patient-experience-in-4-steps

Slow communications, confusing billing and a scarcity of digital options are the last things patients want to deal with when seeking medical care. Yet, this is exactly what happens for too many – and it’s a significant financial risk for providers. This article examines why the patient experience matters and suggests four areas for improvement. Specifically, it looks at the digital tools that put patients in the driving seat and boost patient satisfaction and profitability.

What is the patient experience?

Improving the patient experience starts with answering the following question: what does receiving care feel like to patients at each stage of their healthcare journey? The patient experience includes all the touchpoints between patients and their providers, such as scheduling appointments, attending consultations, collecting prescriptions, and settling bills. There are also intangible components like empathy, respect, trust, and transparency, which shape a patient’s lasting impressions of the healthcare organization.

The experience goes beyond clinical care and face-to-face moments: back-end processes matter, too. Administrative workflows like insurance verification and claims management may be hidden behind the scenes, but they can soon influence what care “feels like” to patients if they’re not running smoothly.

Why is the patient experience so important to healthcare organizations?

When patients have a positive experience, they’re more likely to attend appointments, adhere to treatment plans and make healthier lifestyle choices. Health outcomes improve and the provider can build their reputation as a top choice for quality care. Satisfied patients are less likely to switch providers and are more likely to recommend services to family and friends. Everyone wants their loved ones to get the best possible care.

The strong through-line from the patient experience to profitability tops the list for revenue cycle managers. Well-designed patient flows lead to better resource utilization, while improvements in attraction and retention rates directly benefit the bottom line. Positive patient feedback improves staff morale, so performance remains high. Prioritizing the patient experience is not only beneficial for patients, but is an essential strategy for financial sustainability.

How to improve the patient experience in healthcare

So, what do patients want? Experian Health’s State of Patient Access 2024 report shows they want convenience, simplicity and choice, with 60% of patients saying they want more digital options to manage their care. They don’t want to be passengers in their healthcare journey: they want to be the drivers, but with the support of a trusted guide. That’s where digital tools come in.

Here are four ways to use digital tools to improve the patient experience in healthcare:

1. Give patients speedy access to care with online self-scheduling

Almost 8 in 10 dissatisfied patients say seeing their doctor quickly is their biggest challenge when accessing care. Online self-scheduling puts patients in charge and accelerates the process by making it easier for patients to find, book and cancel appointments, using an intuitive digital platform. Automated integration with the organization’s business rules and calendars means patients only see appropriate appointments. This software maximizes patient show rates with appointments accurately matched to patients’ needs.

Case study: See how IU Health transformed patient scheduling with automation.

2. Simplify the financial experience with transparent pricing and payment plans

Paying for healthcare is notoriously complex. Providers can simplify the patient experience with digital tools that deliver accurate pre-care estimates and flexible payment plans. Experian Health’s Patient Payments Estimates solution uses data and automation to help providers give patients an early heads-up about what their bills are likely to be, and directs them to the most suitable financial pathway. In addition, offering hassle-free, secure payment options makes it easier for patients to pay their bills promptly, reducing the risk of bad debt for providers.

Case study: See how Blessing Health System used integrated revenue cycle solutions to improve the patient financial experience and increase point of service collections by over 80%.

3. Personalize the patient experience with tailored outreach

One of the major advantages of using digital tools is the ability to offer a personalized experience. These tools segment patients for tailored and targeted outreach based on their needs and preferences. This helps providers communicate with patients via their preferred channels and encourages prompt action. For example, text message and interactive voice response campaigns enable target outreach at scale to help accelerate scheduling and referrals and close gaps in care.

Case study: See how Dayton Children’s Hospital used PatientDial to increase outbound call efficiency.

4. Streamline back-office workflows for a frictionless front-end experience

Finally, providers should consider how administrative processes affect what’s happening in the front office and waiting room. Neglecting back-end processes can lead to bottlenecks, errors and inefficiencies that compromise the overall quality of the patient experience. Automated, data-driven revenue cycle management solutions not only eliminate time-wasting manual processes and help providers reduce errors and rework, but they also elevate the patient experience by reducing data errors and delays. Implementing tools like Patient Access Curator can also help take the pain out of registration and scheduling for patients, by capturing all patient data at registration with an all-in-one, single-click solution.

By making every patient-provider interaction as simple and supportive as possible, healthcare organizations can build a patient experience that inspires loyalty, trust and engagement. With a bit of help from the right data and digital tools, providers can deliver a better patient experience and, in turn, secure financial sustainability.

Find out more about how Experian Health’s digital patient engagement solutions can boost patient satisfaction and provider profitability.

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