Healthcare patients today are demanding the same high-quality experience from doctors and providers that they have come to expect from all of their customer interactions. A recent West survey bears this out, finding that 94 percent of patients believe it is important to feel satisfied with their healthcare provider. The same survey revealed that 81 percent of providers recognize it is likely a patient will switch healthcare providers when dissatisfied.
Adding to the pressure for healthcare providers are new value-based payment models that use patient satisfaction as a performance measure. Those satisfaction scores are then used to determine reimbursements.
Improving the patient experience goes well beyond the quality of care, and encompasses the entire healthcare experience – including booking an office visit, wait times, having a range of payment options to pay bills, access to wearable smart-health technologies, and ensuring the security of sensitive data.
In the years to come, the financial stability of healthcare providers will likely depend on how effectively those providers can deliver an outstanding patient experience.
Businesses of all kinds are harnessing the power of data to improve the customer experience. It is little surprise the healthcare industry is following suit. Providers are just beginning to take advantage of the insights gained from patient data to personalize the patient experience.
Electronic record systems are making it easier for providers to maintain comprehensive patient health histories, share test results with specialists, and process insurance claim information. This information empowers doctors to recommend the most effective preventative care, choose the best treatment options, and prescribe follow-up care to achieve the best outcome.
Hospitals and provider groups can also analyze internal data to determine what days and times are the busiest, so facilities can be staffed properly in order to minimize wait times – one of the biggest frustrations for patients. In the future, providers will be able to use artificial intelligence to help personalize patient care, improve outcomes and further enhance the patient experience.
Healthcare payments are an area that is ripe for improvement. With the growing shift toward greater patient payment responsibility, there is added pressure on providers to deliver a payment and billing experience that mirrors other consumer experiences, such as Uber, Amazon and Apple. Patients are increasingly expecting to have a multitude of settlement options available to them, including credit card, online and mobile payments.
Industry research has shown that patients who were offered mobile pay options and billing alerts have significantly improved satisfaction with providers. With the growing population of digitally native patients, it will be imperative for healthcare providers to embrace these new payment channels.
With greater adoption of digital systems, also comes increased cybersecurity risks, which potentially threatens patient confidence that their sensitive data is secure. According to the Protenus Breach Barometer, the healthcare sector saw 15 million patient records compromised in 503 breaches in 2018, three times the amount seen in 2017. The same report noted that by mid-2019 more than 25 million patient records had been breached.
This highlights the importance of cybersecurity in healthcare. As providers adopt digital technologies, they inevitably open themselves up to new vulnerabilities that extend beyond the physical world into cyberspace. To avoid being hacked and protect patient information, providers are turning to state-of-the art technology-driven solutions that secure customer data, detect fraud and provide fraud resolution. For example, encryption and tokenization are just a few of the tools being employed to ensure patient payment data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
As 5G wireless technology becomes available over the next few years, the healthcare industry will be able to take advantage of a burgeoning world of smart health technologies. Some hospitals are already using smart beds that self-adjust to maximize the patient’s treatment, recovery, and comfort. Other smart tech is also making its way into the healthcare setting, such as voice-activated virtual assistants, automated cleaning tools, and other remote communication devices that make it easier for doctors and nurses to access vital patient information, such as test results, anytime, anyplace.
Smart technology is extending to wearables that monitor patients both inside and outside of the healthcare setting. Wearables are not new, but their application is increasing. More advanced devices can be used to monitor patient health metrics such as blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, transmitting data in real-time so doctors can be notified when conditions warrant intervention. By extending monitoring into the home, particularly for elderly and those who are more prone to hospitalization, patients can spend less time in the hospital, which improves the patient experience. Wearables present a less invasive, and often more cost-effective way to deliver care. Smart devices will only grow more widespread as miniaturization and faster connectivity bring exciting new possibilities to this area of care.
The healthcare industry is increasingly taking a consumer-centric approach to its practices. While adopting change is never easy, ultimately, many of the advancements will have the effect of improving patient care, and ensuring a good patient experience. And that’s a prescription for success everyone can subscribe to.
Learn how our payment technology can help improve patient satisfaction in healthcare. Contact a Fiserv representative today.