Patient Experience: A Data-driven Approach
Hospitalists and providers are constantly working on improving patient experience. When a patient’s experiences are positive, it leads to improved overall health. Happier patients lead to a happy practice! You can do countless things to improve patient experiences, such as staff bedside training, shorter wait times, and better facilities. Still, those can take years (and significant financial commitments) to accomplish, and how do you know what’s most important? The Agency for Health Research and Quality has extensively researched and identified top strategies to improve the patient experience. With that research combined with our expertise in medical communication, we identified five best practices you can start now to improve your patient experience ratings.
Open Access Scheduling
When a patient has a health issue, getting same-day care is their priority, but for most practices, it is rarely a possibility. Providers are so booked that squeezing another appointment doesn’t work. However, by providing Open Access scheduling for routine and urgent appointments, your patients’ experience can be improved. According to AHRQ, “Open access—also known as advanced access and same-day scheduling—is a method of scheduling in which all patients can receive an appointment slot on the day they call, almost always with their personal physician… “. Rather than booking each physician’s time weeks or even months in advance, this model leaves about half of the day open; the other third is booked only with clinically necessary follow-up visits and appointments for patients who chose not to come on the day they called (typically no more than 25% percent of patients).” Transforming your practice to this method can make you stand out and improve your patient’s access to care.
Open Clinical Notes
A growing patient trend and, in some places, a mandate is using open clinical notes. Open notes allow patients to see physician notes and understand their care. Physicians that write open notes should make sure they are patient-centered so that they will benefit from this extra step. According to Tech Target, here are a few of the top improvements to patient experience that open notes bring.
- Improved patient empowerment and engagement
- Improved patient safety because of medical error detection and correction
- Improved patient education
- Improved chronic disease management
- Improved medication adherence.
Open notes have numerous benefits, but many practitioners are worried about burnout and finding the time to craft patient-centric notes. One way to avoid such issues is to clear some administrative burdens off doctor’s plates, such as insurance issues and prescription orders, allowing for more personalized care.
Most patients with minor health conditions must schedule appointments to get a consult with their PCP, and the multiple-day wait can cause frustration. To improve patient experience, consider including On Demand Care in your practice. On-Demand Care utilizes a 24-hour nurse hotline, web, or telemedicine to diagnose and treat patients with minor health issues. If staffing 24-hour nursing staff seems unrealistic, hire a medical answering service with a nurse triage line. Offering extra services like 24/7 availability improves the patient experience.
Improve Physician Communication Skills
According to the AHRQ, one of the top strategies to improve patient experience is to invest in training to advance physicians’ communication skills. one study showed a significant positive relationship between overall satisfaction and overall ratings of attendings’ communication behaviors. Most practices have gotten a complaint or two about miscommunication between patients and physicians, and while you can’t please everyone, there is always room for improvement. Doctors are wrapped up in their daily work and can quickly lose patients because of jargon.
Here are some top areas to focus on:
- Treating patients on the same level
- Encourage patients to ask questions
- Let the patient tell their story without interrupting
- Discuss options with the patient
Pre-scheduled planned visits allow physicians and patients to review progress regularly and work on clinical and self-management topics. Effectively scheduled visits can improve clinical illness control and patient satisfaction. Ensuring follow-up appointments and annual wellness takes multiple reminders and calls. Outsourcing some of that can save reception time and energy.
A positive patient experience is a holistic measurement, but adjusting your focus on things with the most significant impact is the greatest use of your time. MedCall Plus specializes in medical call center consulting and patient communication solutions. Contact us today to level up your medical practice.