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Envisioning the Future of the Patient Experience

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From complicated appointment scheduling and crowded waiting rooms to tardy doctors and rushed appointments, healthcare interactions can be frustrating and uncomfortable for patients. And that’s before adding in hard-to-understand medical jargon and confusing insurance hurdles. Is it any wonder that two-thirds of respondents to the 2021 Accenture Health and Life Sciences Experience Survey said they’d had a negative healthcare experience?

That simple truth matters because a negative experience with the healthcare system doesn’t just result in a bad day; it can lead to additional consequences for both the provider and the patient. In fact, more than one-third of participants in the Accenture survey said that after a negative experience, they changed providers or treatments or were less likely to seek medical care the next time they needed it. Other respondents decided not to continue their treatment and chose not to fill their prescription. Just 12 percent said the bad experience did not affect them or their future healthcare choices.

So what exactly does an ideal patient experience look like? In a word: communication. Whether in personal interactions or data administration, it’s crucial to keep the lines of communication open. Avaneer Health’s unique vision for exceptional outcomes — starting with secure data sharing and streamlined administrative processes — can help accomplish this goal.

Continue reading to learn more about the key components of the ideal patient experience and explore our vision further.

The Ideal Patient Experience

The patient experience spans every interaction an individual has with the administrative staff, nurses, and doctors in any healthcare facility as well as the communication they have with their health plan. While the patient experience involves a lot of moving parts, researchers have found that people look for several key elements as they navigate their health journey. These elements include:

  • Clear communication
    More than half (55 percent) of respondents in the Accenture survey said having a provider who explained their condition and treatment clearly was the most important factor in creating a positive healthcare experience. According to the 2020 Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) study, this type of communication requires that providers take the time to discuss treatment plans in laypeople’s terms so patients thoroughly understand the information being conveyed.
  • Responsiveness
    Research suggests diligent attention to a patient’s emotional and physical needs — which can be demonstrated by responsiveness to the call light, the communication of up-to-date wait times and clear and accurate status reports, and more — can positively impact the patient experience.
  • Whole-person care
    When patients are treated as individuals, they tend to view their interactions in a better light than when care is driven by a system that gives little thought to each person’s emotional and physical needs. Consolidating vitals checks and medication administration (rather than waking a patient multiple times during the night), as well as discussing private information when roommates or visitors are not present, for instance, puts the patient first. Whole-person or patient-centered care also means honoring patients’ wishes regarding autonomy and how involved they want to be in their own healthcare journey. Compassion and emotional encouragement are key as well, with 52 percent of respondents in the Accenture survey ranking a provider who listens, understands their needs, and provides support for what they’re feeling as the most important element of a positive experience.
  • Communication between care teams
    Establishing great connections between different care teams is another crucial factor patients seek, with more than one-third (35 percent) of Accenture’s survey respondents saying well-coordinated care and excellent communication between providers was their number one criterion for a good experience. On the other hand, patients not only find contradictory feedback from different healthcare providers and changes in care plans frustrating, but also an indicator of disorganization and conflict among their care team.

 

Ways to Ensure an Exceptional Patient Experience

While some of the criteria for an ideal patient experience depend on individual healthcare providers, healthcare interactions start well before patients see their doctors. At Avaneer Health, we recognize that the patient experience starts with the care and detail devoted to administrative efficiency. Top strategies to improve the administrative experience include:

  • Providing accurate data
    Ensuring the provider has the most accurate and current data available at the first point of contact with the patient sets the tone for a positive interaction. A thorough digital patient intake plus an in-person review of personal contact details and insurance information can save time and reduce patient, provider, and administrative frustration.
  • Improving access to benefit and coverage information
    Having access to patient benefits and coverage information in real time at or before the first visit is a key component of whole-person care. With more benefits and coverage transparency, patients can feel empowered to make more informed decisions and confidently pay their share upfront instead of waiting for a statement to understand their responsibility.
  • Ensuring timely billing
    In cases when it’s not possible to know or collect the full payment for a patient’s share upfront, it’s critical that the billing process with the insurance company moves smoothly and quickly. Reviewing billing and insurance information and automating basic billing functions (including denial prevention) can cut down on the time it takes for patients to see how much they owe and make a payment. The faster the provider’s administrative staff can receive payment from the insurance company, the more promptly they can bill the patient for their portion.
  • Standardizing health data
    Health data should be stored in a standardized format that makes it easy to share among providers. Data standardization encourages collaboration in a patient’s care and consistent messaging about their treatment.
  • Creating a seamless administrative experience
    A seamless healthcare administrative experience with clear expectations and thoughtful, efficient processes can make a positive impression and play a crucial role in patient satisfaction before and after a visit with a doctor. When benefits verification, prior authorization, and billing feel as simple and easy as swiping a credit or debit card at any other merchant, patient trust and the likelihood of continuing treatment go up while the fear of inaccurate charges or surprise bills goes down.

While there is work yet to be done to solve the complexity and lack of standardization in administrative processes, the benefits are well worth investing in improving the patient experience.

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