Patient Experience: Exceeding the Patient’s Expectations
The challenges of providing patients with a “positive experience” in healthcare are undeniable. Most healthcare organizations work hard to meet the basic level of service standards demanded by their patients, governmental regulations, and the marketplace. However, when it comes to patient experience, the difference between meeting the basic level of service, and delivering great, or even excellent service can be vast. Nevertheless, the patient experience can be improved by making simple changes to the current service delivery model in healthcare organizations.
While it is virtually impossible to exceed all patients’ expectations, most patients expect healthcare organizations to be clean, rooms to be comfortable, and providers to be competent. However, even when these basic expectations are met, the ability to satisfy patients’ concerns can determine whether a patient has a positive or negative experience at a hospital. Some of the common patient complaints include wait time, responsiveness of a timely manner of staff, and poor communication. Process redesign, rigorous employee selection processes, and intensive training programs are a few of the tactics utilized to combat some of the service symptoms patients experience.
The level of service delivery that healthcare organizations should strive for is exceeding expectations. In order to operate at this level, healthcare executives must make the following strategic objectives a top priority:
- Create a culture of service; including strong service-oriented mission and vision statements
- Select and recruit service-driven providers and healthcare professionals
- Create an ongoing training program to support the changing needs of patients
- Measure and evaluate service performance to continuously refine offerings
Once the aforementioned objectives are realized, the appropriate service infrastructure will be in place to drive a state-of-the-art service model. At this level of service standard, patients can expect that all interactions with healthcare professionals and the organization demonstrates a strong mission to deliver high quality service at each step in a patient’s wellness journey. Some of the noticeable enhancements patients would be able to discern include:
Patients will receive personalized care from empathetic providers and staff who are emotionally connected to patients’ concerns.
Anticipation of Needs
Healthcare organizations striving to exceed patients’ expectations are led by providers and staff who can “sense and respond” before being asked or prompted. The ability to anticipate needs will comfort patients and build trust and credibility quickly. Examples of anticipation of needs may include responding to non-verbal signs a patient has pain or discomfort, or perhaps body-language cues exhibiting frustration with wait-times for a particular service.
One of the most glaring differences between healthcare and other service-oriented industries is family involvement. Frequent and consistent communication with family members can assist with easing a stressful experience. Furthermore, involving family members in the recovery process alleviates patient and family stress and enhances the chances of a speedy recovery.
Healthcare systems working to exceed their patients’ expectations understand the long term benefits to the patient and organization are manifold. Cutting-edge healthcare organizations start every initiative with the end (the patient) in mind. By building a culture of service, organizations would inherently improve the quality of care delivered, mitigate risk areas, retain talented individuals, and improve processes and procedures to increase operational efficiencies.