Great [Patient] Expectations

Healthcare professionals, all over the world, are on agreement that patient satisfaction is an important outcome for the sustainability and long term profitability of a healthcare practice. The most important contributor to patient satisfaction is understanding and managing patient expectations, which has come a long way with healthcare too embracing consumerization of IT.

Most often, facilities focus on patient-provider encounter as the sole area to meet and manage patient expectations. While this is still important, familiarity with technology influence patient expectations to grow beyond the encounter room.

I don’t want to wait

“Waiting is frustrating, demoralizing, agonizing, aggravating, annoying, time-consuming and incredibly expensive.”  This is an ad from Federal Express, but truer words have never been said. People hate waiting. Period.

Still, why does healthcare practices consider it is okay to make patients wait? Sometimes it is unavoidable due to unexpected circumstances, but that does not justify practices not looking into avoidable queues and wait times.

Customers no longer wait in long queues in a bank or while checking in at an airport. The improved experience in these industries results in expectations of eliminating long queues for the patient check-in process as well. Adopting self-service technology will help in avoiding long queues and wait times during this process.

I don’t want to fill loads of paper forms

A smartphone or tablet makes it easy for us to bank, shop, book tickets or pay bills. Patients expect a similar convenience while filling their healthcare information which they get via their pixel-perfect iPhones or iPads.

I don’t want to give the same information again and again

Have you ever thought, while filling up an online form, “gosh, I have already given this information”? If yes, why would it be any different for a patient walking into your healthcare facility? Patients have to share information such as demographic details, insurance details, past medical history etc. to enable a successful encounter. Irrespective of this information available in the EHR/PM system, we still expect patients to fill them in paper forms during every visit.

In an era where online portals like Amazon are able to store your information for future use and even recommend you items for purchase based on past data, it is only natural that patients expect the basic demographic, insurance and medical history information entered during the last visit is still available instead of having to enter all of them again and again.

I want to know how much it will cost me

Customers are entitled to know the cost of a product or service before making a purchase decision and this holds true for healthcare as well. That means sharing these details with patients during the check-in process so that they know what the service would cost them.

I want to access it on-the-go

A true blessing those pixel-perfect smartphones and tablets have offered its millions of fans is mobility. It makes instant access to information and services a reality and people across generations are comfortable using these devices for that instantaneous access. It is only natural that they expect this access from healthcare, for services such as scheduling appointments, completing registrations, requesting prescription renewals, receiving alerts and notifications etc.

Conclusion

These are only a few of the many touch-points where patient expectations have evolved beyond the provider encounter experience. Thankfully, the advancement of digital and mobile technology has led to the development of many healthcare software solutions that allow facilities to meet these expectations without harming their profitability. It is up to the facilities to choose the right healthcare software solution that would not only help them meet and manage these expectations but also to unplug the resultant ROI.

What are the other areas where patient expectations have evolved because of technology? Let us know in comments.

Glen Mary George :