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Published: Jul 27 2021

Healthcare Consumers: The New Driving Force in Healthcare

By Stephanie Leontis, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Healthcare, Accruent

Transforming a healthcare organization’s culture from facility-centered to patient-centered has clearly become a driving force in the success of a healthcare system. It’s almost impossible to read an article or attend a conference without patient experience being a major healthcare topic. Digital transformation has put the patient in a position of power, and that’s why 49% of U.S. health leaders are making customer experience a top strategic priority over the next 5 years.

The efforts are paying off. U.S. hospitals that deliver superior customer experience achieve net margins that are, on average, 50 percent higher than other hospitals, according to Accenture research. When done correctly, a better patient experience not only leads to improved patient satisfaction scores and improved operating margins, but also to better patient outcomes, engagement and loyalty.

To achieve these results, the real advancement of a patient-centered experience must come from the entire health system. To fix the patient journey, clinical operations, marketing, IT, and finance must all be joined together to create the best possible patient journey and to increase profit margins.

Impact of Patient Experience on Healthcare

Understanding and working to improve the patient experience are critical. Patients are now more personally involved in their healthcare decisions and want the best value and experience for their investment. Enhancing the patient experience positively impacts your healthcare organization in three major ways.

  • Increases patient engagement - Better patient experiences increase the likelihood that patients, and their families, will be more engaged in their own health outcomes. Multiple studies have connected higher levels of clinical outcomes to a focus on patient engagement.
  • Improves revenue - Patient experience is increasingly being used by insurance payers as a metric to assess the quality of care that healthcare organizations are providing, and it’s changing the way that payers structure contractual agreements. While reimbursement is important in your organization’s bottom line, the real value is found in enhancing patient experience to increase customer loyalty.
  • Enhances the organization’s reputation - Patients—especially younger, digitally savvy patients—now go to online sites to compare the scores and ratings of healthcare organizations. Word-of-mouth reviews of services and organizations are becoming more important, and this can have either a positive or negative impact on patient acquisition and retention. The Advisory Board Company reported that a 10 percent increase in customer loyalty could generate more than $22 million in revenue for the average hospital.

Digital Transformation Improves Patient Experience

So many factors play into a positive patient experience that many health systems are now hiring Chief Experience Officers (CXO). CXOs are becoming more common at hospitals and health systems across the country as organizations accelerate efforts to meet the needs of their patients, employees and caregivers. Often, these roles are to increase patient satisfaction to maintain good Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAPHS) scores to preserve the hospital’s full Medicare reimbursement.

Most healthcare organizations are using digital transformation to improve patient experience, with many focused on patient access points. This could be online appointment scheduling, digital provider directories, streamline call centers, digital wayfinding and even patient intake kiosks. Also, clinical engineering needs to update outdated legacy systems in hospital operations to keep pace.

Modern cloud-based solutions improve operational efficiency while delivering higher levels of patient experience. These digital tools mitigate cybersecurity risks and protect patient data, digitize workflows to better track work orders, projects and assets, standardize data and improve asset planning. Connected facilities, medical devices and mobile applications bring together patients, caregivers and clinicians with patient or performance data for better care delivery and patient support.

Final Thoughts

In today’s digitally driven, customer-centric world, patients own the relationship with their healthcare providers. They are increasingly shopping for healthcare services and looking for an easy, seamless and safe experience when they need care. Non-traditional, digital care models are having a huge impact on these expectations.

By adopting a consumer-first mindset and leveraging the tools of consumer-focused innovation in all areas of the healthcare system, hospitals can implement high-quality, personalized end-to-end experiences that promise stronger provider-patient relationships, better health outcomes and long-term viability in an increasingly competitive market.

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