The healthcare industry has historically been slow in adopting changes that have previously been implemented by other industries to enhance the processes, service levels, and efficiency of business operations.
The healthcare industry has historically been slow in adopting changes that have previously been implemented by other industries to enhance the processes, service levels, and efficiency of business operations. Intensified focus on research and development efforts during the “technology era,” specifically during the last several decades, has led to impressive medical advancements that have transformed the healthcare industry.
However, in order for patients to receive an improved medical experience at healthcare organizations, the focus on enhancing the patient experience must be top of mind, and not just a secondary organizational goal. In recent years, a combination of operational, regulatory, and technological changes specific to healthcare has made the patient experience front and center, compelling healthcare executives to focus on improving operational practices to enhance quality and promote patient experience.
The following trends are an output of the changes that have proven to be the key driving forces behind the recent undercurrent stirring change in healthcare:
Cross Industry Trends:
There is a discrepancy between service levels in healthcare and other industries, such as hospitality and aviation, which is prompting healthcare patients to desire and seek the same level of service that is offered to them as customers of businesses operating outside of healthcare. Needless to say, the nature of healthcare presents unique challenges, but the basic service values are often missing from healthcare organizations. According to recent national HCHAPS survey results, such service values include responsiveness of staff, cleanliness and quietness of hospital environment, and communication regarding course of treatment.
Technological advances have changed patients’ interactions in two ways. Social networks provide patients with an effective medium to share their experiences and learn about other patients’ interactions with the organizations. In addition, patients now have access to a variety of online medical journals and resources that they can reference in order to become more knowledgeable and in-tuned with their medical well being and overall health. This knowledge propels patients to become more involved in health related decisions, previously made by providers without their influence or inquiry.
The Accountable Care Act and Medicare’s Value Based Purchasing Program are among the new regulatory developments that are dramatically changing the industry’s landscape. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are now forming with the intent of caring for community members residing within a specified geographical area. ACOs now bear responsibility for collaborating with the patients that they serve to improve the overall health of the community in order to reduce their costs. Value Based Purchasing (VBP) ties a percentage of Medicare reimbursements with the organization’s quality and patient satisfaction scores. VBP encourages healthcare organizations to improve their service levels, and more importantly, their internal quality practices that inherently drive higher service levels.
Healthcare patients have evolved to become more savvy and in-tune with their health and well-being. While improving the patient experience has always been a goal, the aforementioned trends are empowering patients and healthcare leaders to work together and invest in drastically improving healthcare’s quality and service practices.