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The Beryl Institute invites members to submit posts on patient experience related topics. For guidelines and information on submitting a post for consideration, please contact us at info@theberylinstitute.org.

 

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Top tags: patient experience  healthcare  communication  culture  patient  HCAHPS  Leadership  patient engagement  empathy  physician  survey  compassion  perception  physicians  technology  caregiver  community  data  employee engagement  family engagement  healing  Hospital  improving patient experience  collaboration  Consumerism  Expectations  interactions  patient and family engagement  pediatric  person-centered care 

3 Ways to Engage Patients Between Visits

Posted By Fred Altimont, Monday, November 21, 2016
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2016

Quality and cost. Two of the most important elements of the healthcare industry today, and key ingredients driving the shift from volume- to value-based care. Providers face tremendous pressure to deliver higher-quality care at a lower cost, and engaging patients in their own care can help on both of these fronts. On top of better health outcomes, engaged patients also typically report higher satisfaction levels.

The problem? Many patients’ interactions with their doctors are limited to the 10-minute in-person visit. Patients can often feel rushed and forget the questions they wanted to ask, and don’t have the time to process new information, leading to frustration. The patients return home, only to feel they’ve lost access to the personalized care and support of an in-person visit.

So, how can providers engage their patients between visits? There are a few ways technology can help bridge this gap.

Remote Monitoring

The proliferation of wearables and mobile devices means we are now more connected than ever before. Patients can monitor and report activity levels, symptoms, and even vital signs today from the comfort of their own homes. When shared with doctors, this data can not only empower patients to self-manage their care, but also inform clinical teams, creating a more productive in-person visit. Data overload for the physician is easily avoidable by setting mutually-aligned goals with the patient. The patient monitors his or her vital sign ranges, and the physician is only alerted when a vital falls outside that range.

Education

Often, a large portion of the office visit is spent educating patients about conditions and treatments. But when the patient only has a short, fixed amount of time with the doctor, retaining instructions or other information can be hard to do. What if that same education could be delivered virtually, though, freeing up more time with the patient to answer questions and have other discussion? For instance, a digital health program could educate patients about how to manage their allergies during the approaching pollen season, or teach them how to properly use an inhaler.

Communication

As simple as it sounds, a quick note to a patient between visits can improve patient engagement. In fact, a recent study from the International Journal for Quality in Health Care found that secure messaging “appears to be associated with higher quality diabetes care, particularly among at-risk populations.” By feeling more connected to care teams, patients often report higher satisfaction levels and may be more engaged in self-managing their conditions. The use of video can also propel the connected relationship for the patient. In seeing a provider’s face, patients can develop a deeper bond with the entire care team.

The in-person doctor visit holds a valuable place in the care continuum and cannot - and should not - be fully replaced. The relationships and trust built during face-to-face time are crucial in caring for patients in their health journey. With the right tools, however, these visits can be supplemented to facilitate even more trust and compassion, while delivering healthier outcomes. We’re committed to bridging this gap to improve patients’ lives and look forward to driving innovation in this area.

 

Fred Altimont is executive vice president at ViiMed, a digital health company that delivers customers’ care plans for acute, chronic, and episodic conditions through cloud-based software.

Tags:  cost  mobile devices  patient engagement  quality  technology  trust  wearables 

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The New Reality in Customer Experience: Raising Our Standards

Posted By Kevin J. Gordon, Monday, March 10, 2014
Updated: Sunday, March 9, 2014

Here are a few of new phrases being added to the healthcare manager’s vernacular:

  • Competitive advantage
  • Consumerism
  • Marketplace differentiation

Historically, American consumers have often looked for best prices and perceived value. However those same Americans are now patients and have given the healthcare industry a scholarship in perpetuity. Well, as the saying goes, all good things do come to an end.

The intersection of events such as rising insurance costs, a greater shift of the cost being pushed to the patient, significant competition amongst healthcare facilities and Obamacare, sprinkled in for good measure, has left patients more actively involved not only in their clinical path of care, but also in the costs and the options available when receiving healthcare services.

Fortunately, healthcare has not lowered its standards to the point of Super Bowl advertising for bargain price open heart surgery with the cute doctor’s kid as a pitchperson, but you can’t drive down a suburban road without seeing how long the wait time is at one of the many local hospitals.

All of this brings me back to the three new phrases the healthcare universe needs to grasp and accept as their new reality. We must finally accept the fact that "the patient is our customer,” we must each take a deeper look into how we will differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and we must look at ourselves and ask "How we are viewed competitively to the other facilities in town?”

Today’s healthcare facility cannot rely solely on quality of care as its strategy. While obviously still a critical aspect of the patient’s experience, the comparison would be Disney only focusing on rides and not paying attention to the rest of the park. In the end, the clinical interaction of a patient’s visit in terms of percent of time is roughly equal to the time spent on the actual rides, about 20%. The remaining 80%, whether at a healthcare facility or walking Main Street USA, is what forms the patient’s opinion of the healthcare experience.

If the healthcare world does not want to sink to the level of pitchmen and infomercials, the last bastion of hope is working on the entire experience we provide for the consumer, I mean patient, from scheduling to post-discharge follow up.

As the automobile industry knows so well, a customer might be a fan of a specific brand (or doctor), but that in no way guarantees the customer will return to the same dealership (or hospital) for his or her next purchase unless the entire experience, over and above the end result, is what he or she has come to expect.

Kevin J. Gordon is currently the President of PatientEase, a technology company dedicated to bringing customer service automation techniques into a healthcare facility.

Tags:  competitive advantage  consumerism  customer experience  Obamacare  patient experience  quality 

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Patients vs. Customers: Communicating with All Your Audiences to Maximize the Patient Experience

Posted By Elizabeth Ziemba, Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Updated: Monday, November 11, 2013

Providing a comprehensive and superior quality patient experience requires identifying and communicating with all of your audiences. Technology, a changing and competitive healthcare environment, increasingly sophisticated consumers and other factors have muddied the discussions leading to confusion about "patients,” "customers” and "clients.” Often these terms are used interchangeably. Clear communication requires an understanding of all of your audiences and using language that is tailored to their individual needs. Here is a suggested framework to sweep away the clutter.

The word "customer” refers collectively to all members of all your audience. It is the broadest term with the widest reach across all your communication channels. "Customers” include patients; the family and friends of your patients; staff, co-workers and colleagues; external services and lost leads.

Patients are the easiest group to define. They are the individuals who receive health and wellness services and to whom you owe specific legal duties and obligations governed by the laws of where the services are provided. They are at the heart of your organization and the reason it exists.

An extremely influential group of people is family members or friends who know the patient and are engaged in the decision making process. They may accompany the patients to the place of service and observe the entire patient experience process. The patient experience also refers to how family members and friends are treated and how they observe patients being treated. Have you ever had the situation where a patient became upset because a family member or friend was treated rudely?

Your customers are also staff such as your co-workers and colleagues. "Co-workers” are the people within your organization with whom you work either directly or indirectly. Your co-workers are the people in other departments who impact the patient experience. Strong, positive relationships are essential with other internal departments including patient services; public relations; translation and interpretation; finance and billing; marketing and the legal department. Excellent customer service requires that you work together as a team serving all of your audiences.

"Colleagues” are other professionals and associates within your field. You may know them personally or have indirect contact with them through associations or social media like LinkedIn. They contribute to the quality of the patient experience offered by your organization by what they say, write or post about you or your organization. They are often a source of referrals who influence where people receive medical services.


Rude behavior seems to have become a favorite national pastime that has a huge negative impact on the patient experience. Here are the results of a 2012 poll administered by Monster.com, a US nationwide job search site. About 71% of all US co-workers including healthcare workers were rated to be "somewhat” to "downright rude.” How would you rate your co-workers? How would your customers rate the members of your organization?

How co-workers treat each other impacts the patient experience. There is an excellent book called The Cost of Bad Behavior that examines the effect of rude and offensive behavior by co-workers on patients and other by-standers. The research may surprise you. Simply witnessing (as opposed to being the object of) bad behavior has a negative impact that lasts a long time.

The next audience to consider is your "external services.” These individuals and organizations are the links in the chain that bring the patient and his or her family and friends to you and return them home safely. What are some of the external links in the your customer service chain interacting with your customers? They may include hotels, transportation services and restaurants recommended by your organization.

While you may have less control over how these services are delivered to your customers, there are ways to manage these relationships. Remember that negative experiences resulting from interactions with external service providers will influence the patient and customer experience.

The final category to consider is "lost leads.” Lost leads are individuals who contact your organization but take their business elsewhere.

Lost leads may result from a variety of reasons: Telephones that are not answered or not answered properly; calls that are disconnected; callers put on hold for too long; calls that are transferred to the wrong department; telephone messages that are not returned promptly or not returned at all; emails that bounce; emails that are not answered at all; web site links that don’t work; incorrect telephone numbers listed to call and more. All of these frustrating experiences are reasons for people to take their business elsewhere, complain about your organization and post negative remarks on social media sites. Work with your marketing department to contact these people and find out what type of customer experience they had. Their stories are a fantastic source of information about where your organization is failing to deliver customer service and why people are taking their business elsewhere.

Delivering a high quality patient and customer experience requires sophisticated communication with all of your audiences. While the focus of healthcare providers must be superior clinical care, ignoring any of your audiences risks poor patient and customer experiences.

Elizabeth Ziemba is the President of Medical Tourism Training. Ms. Ziemba has worked as a consultant to various medical tourism businesses, nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies, focusing on developing and implementing marketing and market research as well as customer-service solutions. As a skilled writer, she has published extensively on various business topics including medical tourism and uses her writing abilities to oversee course content development for the company. Her focus on practical solutions based on years of business experience provide tangible benefits to the company's clients.

Tags:  behavior  customer  family  patient experience  quality  staff 

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