Patient healthcare has come a long way since inception and has gradually transitioned into value-based care. Patient Healthcare Experience (PHE) is a complex terminology related to patient satisfaction. An enhanced focus on PHE primarily drives a perception of better results, educates the patient on the requisite treatment route and inculcates the path of adherence. Certainly there is a clear-cut roadmap that aids the healthcare experience and delivers ‘patient delight’.
Understanding and estimating the healthcare experience of the patient along with his/her family provides an opportunity to retrospect healthcare practices and improve outcomes. Hence it is crucial for hospitals to deliver an excellent healthcare service and experience to its most important stakeholder and customer ‘the patient’.
Traditionally, treatment of chronic ailments was associated with medicine-management by the patients themselves. So there lacked any kind of involvement and co-ordination among the physicians. Apart from accepting the inevitable yet bitter fact of lifetime medication, patients were forced to deal with embarrassment of diagnosis, changes in social lifestyle, comprehending purpose and timely dispensing of medication, therapy regimen and unpleasant side effects. This dearth of patient awareness also led to sporadic hospital visits and severe medical adherence issues.
It is seen that there is a regulatory and clinical care response to the concept of both patient satisfaction and experience. Patient satisfaction may be attributed to several factors that a patient experiences before, during, and after a bout of treatment and/or hospitalization along with characteristics of the care environment. Some indicators of patient satisfaction are timeliness of care with access to specialty care, type of communication done with doctors and nurses, shared decision-making, responsiveness of hospital staff, pain management, medication adherence education, discharge information, ambience of the hospital environment and transition of care.
– Lack of experience in precisely defining and rating quality healthcare
– Patient satisfaction is subjective and non-quantifiable
– Focus on improving patient experience leads to giving higher priority on desire-fulfilment rather than effective care resulting in trade-offs
– Patient evaluation scores are beyond provider’s control
– Poor response rates to patient experience surveys
– Highly customized and selective ways to survey patient experiences contributing to bias
– Wrong diagnosis and site surgeries, nurse burn-outs and unprecedented hospital re-admissions
Ways to improve Patient Healthcare Experience
Adopting a ‘patient centric’ approach for Diagnosis and Treatment
– Properly addressing all aspects of the Patient’s Treatment Needs : Appropriate compassionate treatment with clear explanations and minimal pain, adequate contact with family, prompt resolution of requests, catering to patients physical needs (including facilities and accommodations for comfortable rest and good sleep like maintaining room temperature, quality/quantity of food, diet preferences, lack of noise) and also mental needs(patient preferences for choosing physicians and nurses, ensuring privacy), 24/7 availability of medical staff, confidentiality of patient information, utmost pre and post-operative care, focused attention on the patient from the nursing staff without diversion to medical devices .
– Adding dedicated coordinators and clinical pharmacists to the patient care team. This facilitates focus on individual patients, building strong and trusting relationships and provides medication therapy management and additional patient education.
– Promoting ‘ease of use ‘ for patients by providing personalized medication packaging (based on prescribed dosage and lifestyle), technology usage according to preferences(automated text messages, email or phone calls) for sending reminders on medication and follow-ups and proactive measures for dispensing medication to patient’s choice of location.
Design the Care-Framework clearly anticipating patients’(medical and other) needs
Providing adequate parking slots and security ,on-call, well- equipped ambulances with trained staff, easily accessible entry- points with ramps and elevators for wheel chair/stretcher patients, in-campus integrated 24/7 pharmacy ,simple and quick patient registration procedures, announcement mechanisms, automated token generation and appointment bookings, enquiry/grievance counters, quick billing along with insurance handling, well-guided sign boards in the hospital layout, proximity of rest rooms, call buttons for handling exigencies, dedicated emergency/trauma and critical care units, add-on facilities for patient- caretakers including beds, laundry, vending machines, Wi-Fi(internet) enabled waiting/resting lounges, televisions and cell-phone chargers, ATMs ,telephone booths and canteen.
Training and aligning incentives across the healthcare continuum
Ensure all healthcare providers are focused on assisting patients with medication adherence, coordinating diagnostic results, aligning functions with meaningful purpose, building trustful relationships between prescribers and pharmacy teams( patient introduction, warm hand-offs and proactive condition management),involving leaders and making them accountable, conducting periodic quality checks and publicly reporting metrics, adopting consistent communication frameworks and handling patient/caretaker concerns and complaints.
Benchmarking outside healthcare
Eliminating self- reinforcing comparisons and competing with the best in service-intensive industries like Hospitality and Financial Services
Developing and implementing Proactive Healthcare Measures
Going that extra mile by adopting proactive steps including Preventive Health Maintenance, Routine Health Check-Ups, Circulating Medical Bulletins to Patients with latest research developments and trends, Managing Epidemics, Offering Discounts/Incentives for patient referrals, repeat customers, special children and handicapped/senior citizens and introducing Family/Corporate Health Packages and Student Community Health Programmes.
In summary, it is essential that all stakeholders in healthcare including patients and families, providers, consultants and policy- makers collectively and collaboratively experience a healthcare encounter to better understand its dynamics. This brings together the medical staff, environment support, leadership and vast cultural influences to collectively provide full satisfaction and good healthcare experience to Patients in Hospitals!