The patient experience is a concept of growing concern in the healthcare industry. It is a broad term that encompasses everything a patient interacts with and has the power to influence their perception about the professionalism, quality of care, and trustworthiness of providers.
Understandably, healthcare providers are increasingly recognising the importance of designing their service with the patient in mind, to ensure a pleasant experience and better health outcomes. Defining the patient experience requires a balanced consideration of both patient happiness and the effective delivery of care.
Getting the balance right
A common misconception in the healthcare industry is that the patient experience should be focused predominantly on patient satisfaction. The Cleveland Clinic’s patient experience model prioritises the provision of safe and high-quality care over patient satisfaction, ensuring that the patient’s health is at the crux of their service. While the happiness of your patients is important, achieving better health outcomes is paramount, and dependent on the considered and safe provision of care.
However, rising expectations of healthcare services require us to take steps to improve patient interaction. Eventually, this should involve addressing some of the shortcomings in integrating healthcare systems to streamline the flow of patient information between clinics - but we’ll start with the basics.
Demonstrating care, compassion, and open communication
As of recently, understanding user experience has been an underutilised tool for improving healthcare services. A recent study conducted by ED doctors found that patients considered a ‘display of concern in caring’ to be the most influential factor in creating a positive experience. Feeling a concerted effort from providers to connect with them personally reassures them that their issue will be handled with care and concern.
Furthermore, good communication amongst staff puts patients at ease. A perceived connection between staff can eliminate confusion and reduce the risk of multiple people telling the patient different things.
Creating an environment for staff-patient satisfaction
Happy and approachable employees are vital to defining a positive patient experience. Not only does this help patients and providers connect personally, but it lets patients feel comfortable asking questions that keep them feeling informed, calm, and respected. Providing a good patient experience is also rewarding to staff, boosting morale and consequently creating a cycle of staff-patient satisfaction.
At NEXA, we believe in human-centred service design – that means ensuring that everything (and everyone) users interact with on their journey makes them feel valued and respected. Creating a positive environment for patients, staff, carers and volunteers begins with understanding their experience and communicating with them appropriately. Coupled with safe and high-quality care, we can minimise patient dissatisfaction and deliver a holistically pleasant experience.