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What is patient experience and why it matters?


The Team at CallMiner

December 14, 2021

heathcare patient experience
heathcare patient experience

Updated April 11, 2022

The patient experience describes the perceptions, experiences and interactions of the patient at every stage of their interaction and service with a healthcare provider, from making an appointment to checking in, interacting with staff and healthcare providers, payment, follow-up care, and more.

It includes interactions with many different people throughout the healthcare system, from customer care representatives, billing professionals, and insurance representatives, to doctors, nurses, and consultants at facilities. These interactions take place over a variety of channels, from phone to messaging in patient portals and in-person communication.

The Beryl Institute, a global community of healthcare professionals dedicated to transforming the human experience in the healthcare field, defines the patient experience as being “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influences patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” 

Unlike patient satisfaction, which describes the patient’s level of satisfaction with the quality of the care, patient experience measures if the patient has received care (healthcare and admin related) that meets the standards set by the industry or facility. For example, was the patient’s phone calls answered in a timely manner? Was the patient provided with all the information needed to make an informed decision?

As such, patient satisfaction may be seen as being subjective in nature, whereas patient experience is more objective. Two patients could have received the same quality of care (patient experience) but could have different opinions about whether the care satisfied their expectations (patient satisfaction).

Six Trends Transforming Healthcare and Patient Experience
Six Trends Transforming Healthcare and Patient Experience
Discover how to use insights from real conversations to deliver a world-class patient experience
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What is patient service?

Just like organizations are focused on customer service, healthcare and medical organizations are equally focused on patient service, which is the culmination of how a patient interacts with you. From appointment scheduling to clinical visits to billing, these are all patient services.

What is good patient service and experience?

One of the common failings of any organization is believing that the quality of their service is fine as it is, or even simply “good enough.” But according to the axiom, good is the enemy of great, and it’s a best practice for healthcare providers to strive to improve the quality of their care through improving the patient experience in healthcare.

Besides the patients themselves, it’s also important to consider the role your greatest asset plays in the patient experience: your employees. Your employees are the ones who will be interacting with your patients, and it’s critical that everyone, whether they be management, nurses, doctors, consultants, security guards or healthcare contact center agents, understands and believes in the value of the patient experience and the quality of care.

As such, the actual patients themselves are only one-half of the patient experience, and if you want your employees to carry the torch for your patients, you’ll also need to carry the torch for your employees.

A culture of quality doesn’t come overnight, and it doesn’t begin at the bottom, but rather at the top. Start by seeking your employees’ feedback about what works and what doesn’t work within the organization. Provide incentives and rewards for employees and departments who actively incorporate the concept of quality into every aspect of their working life.

Lastly, consider setting up an action committee of employees encompassing the different strata and departments within the company. Charge the committee with identifying areas of concern and potential improvement and then empower them to make the necessary changes.

Implement the right culture and get your employees on-board, and you’ve already won a major first battle in the war against “good enough.”

Points to consider before you get started

There’s obviously a lot of work involved in transforming the patient experience, and it’s important to ensure that nothing gets missed. With that in mind, here are some key points to consider before launching the program with your patients.

  1. What do you need to know? It’s one thing to have an end goal of raising the standard of care at your organization, but which areas do you feel have the largest potential for growth? Focus on those areas first and then design your patient experience on identifying how those areas can be improved. Also, think about what you hope to gain by improving the quality of your care—how will it benefit the organization as a whole?
  2. Do your employees know why you’re doing this? If you’ve already adopted a quality-focused culture mindset, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It’s important for employees to understand that these changes are designed to improve the quality of everyone’s experience within the organization. If they understand this concept, they’re more likely adopt any necessary changes and encourage patients to voice their opinions.
  3. How will you gather your feedback from patients? First of all, do you need to gather feedback from everyone or a targeted sample? For example, if you feel a specific aspect of the organization could be improved, then maybe feedback from the impacted patients could be prioritized. Also, think about when you should seek feedback. At the time of discharge allows the patient to recall their experience while it is still fresh in their mind, but they might not have had enough time to process everything. Would you seek the feedback in-person, over the phone, online or even via mail? In-person and over the phone allows you to further explore problem areas, whereas online or via mail might cost less and be more convenient to the patient.
  4. How will you test the process before launch? The last thing you want is for your patient experience program to launch and then immediately fail due to unforeseen circumstances. With that in mind, test it thoroughly internally with your employees, leaving enough time to make any necessary adjustments before launch. Besides the actual process of gathering the feedback itself, make sure you have the means to properly analyze the results. Are you getting the information you need?
  5. Is money enough to move the organization forward? Investing money in the program and implementing change is certainly a good start for your organization’s new journey, but that journey will be short-lived if you don’t continue to invest in your people. Not every issue can be resolved by buying new equipment, improving the infrastructure or even by offering incentives to your employees. For example, it could be that your employees need additional training on booking appointments or even customer service. Ultimately, your employees are as much of a resource as anything else in your organization, and it makes sense to invest in them too!

Improving the patient experience with conversation analytics

Solutions such as conversation analytics can play a significant role in improving patient experience, allowing you to monitor every interaction across channels to ensure compliance and identify areas in which coaching or training are needed. Conversation analytics solutions like CallMiner help organizations understand what patients need as far as services, processes, and policies, measure patient emotions in real-time to identify at-risk patients, uncover patient trends, and identify top-performing agents to improve training processes across the organization.

In addition to analyzing interactions, CallMiner helps organizations automate agent performance improvement by providing real-time guidance to agents during interactions on the next best actions, identifying conversations that should be escalated to a supervisor, and identifying patients who require additional support at any stage throughout the patient journey. Armed with these insights, your organization can make data-driven decisions to improve the patient experience at every step of the journey. 

Adopting a patient experience and quality-focused company culture can be a daunting undertaking and isn’t something that should be rushed. However, the long-term benefits, both in terms of patient care and employee morale, will always make it well worth the effort.

Speech & Conversation Analytics Healthcare Industry North America Customer Experience Contact Center Operations