Improving the Patient Experience: Where Are The Dollars And Cents?
The patient experience has become a big buzz topic in the healthcare industry, and with good reason: It has an impact on patient satisfaction and HCAHPS scores, and thus, directly affects funding through recent healthcare legislation. Additionally, the patient experience ties into patient retention and loyalty, and can through word-of-mouth help drive or slow a hospital’s connection with new patients.
In fact, in the 2012 HealthLeaders Media Patient Experience Survey, 84 percent of healthcare organizations placed patient experience among the top three priorities in 2012.
It seems quite clear, then, that the patient experience is a main focus in nearly every healthcare organization. Surprisingly, however, the dollars and cents don’t back that notion.
According to data from the article “No Defined Direction on the Patient Experience Journey,” it becomes clear “that having a high position on the priority list does not necessarily qualify patient experience as a budget-worthy activity, though.” The data shows that more than half — 58 percent — of healthcare organizations have not made investments specifically related to improving the patient experience.
This may come as a bit of a surprise, considering there are so many possible ways to invest in the patient experience, such as:
- Improving employee engagement and satisfaction, making for a more pleasant environment for employees and patients
- Making the process of connecting with the hospital easier and more convenient, with services like online appointment request and online chat
- Improving the aesthetics of the hospital with improvements to the building’s waiting rooms and hospital rooms, general decor and landscaping
- Upgrading the in-patient experience with access in hospital rooms to more preferred television channels, along with adding more desirable dining options to the hospital menu
- Strengthening post-discharge services by conducting thorough follow-ups upon discharge with prescription reminders, health coaching and other measures to help cut down on unnecessary readmissions.
Could more than half of hospitals really be putting no investments toward improving the patient experience? Perhaps those surveyed considered their investments to be ones that primarily improved efficiency or employee satisfaction, with improving the patient experience as a secondary goal. Or, could it be that perhaps dollars really aren’t getting funneled toward improving this high-priority area?
What do you think: Have you seen or do you foresee healthcare organizations putting their money where their mouth is? If so, how? And if no, why not?