Patient experience week is an annual event spanning the final week of April, meant to highlight patient experiences in the medical field. This week not only honors patients, but the medical staff who provide their care and create their experiences as well.
While you never need a reason to acknowledge healthcare professionals or those struggling with illness, you may be wondering: what is patient experience? Why is it important for my healthcare practice? And most importantly, what can I do to improve it?
What is Patient Experience?
Patient experience, or patient care experience, is the sum of a patient's experience during their medical journey. It encompasses every step of the process, from scheduling appointments, to diagnosis and treatment, to any resources provided after treatment is complete.
What Makes an Optimal Patient Experience?
Most people don't like being treated like numbers, especially when they're sick. A personal element is the key to any good patient experience: making your patient feel seen, valuing their time, and empathizing with what they're going through.
Why Create a Good Patient Experience?
There are many reasons to focus on creating a good patient experience. As with any service, a happy customer is more likely to return than an unhappy one. If your patients are forced to wait long past their scheduled appointment times, are treated poorly by staff, or feel as though they aren't being listened to, they're more likely to go somewhere else next time they're sick. Patients that have a good experience can also tell friends or family about the care they received at your practice, bringing you more business.
How to Improve Your Patient Experience
Now that you understand the importance of an optimal patient experience, you may be wondering how you can improve the experiences provided at your practice. Here are several ways to do so:
Delays are inevitable in any field, especially one as busy as medicine. You won't always be able to make your appointments on time. However, your patient's time is just as valuable as yours, and potentially even more valuable, depending on their illness. Try not to keep them waiting, and if you are going to be late, be sure to apologize for the delay.
Nobody likes feeling ignored, especially when they're distressed. Talking down to your patient or ignoring them is a surefire way to make them leave your practice with a bad taste in their mouth. Make sure to actively listen to what your patients have to say. Don't be dismissive or appear as though you want to leave as soon as possible — otherwise, they may do the same.
Being sick is never pleasant. No matter what issues your patient is suffering from, they'll be experiencing some level of discomfort, pain, anxiety, and fear. Work to establish effective, empathetic communication with your patient and anyone who might accompany them. Introduce yourself, use their names when speaking, and use ice breakers as the situation allows in order to put them at ease. Remember that they're more than a client — they're a person suffering from something unpleasant, coming to you for help.
Unless your patient has a PhD as well, chances are they won't understand everything that's happening to them. Questions are only natural, so make sure to answer any they may have.
Make sure that the resources available to them — online scheduling, informational pages, payment portals, etc. — are functional and intuitive. Scheduling a doctor's appointment is stressful enough without struggling to make it in the first place.
The Arnot Health Experience
At Arnot Health, our top goal is providing a high-quality patient care experience. Not only are we committed to giving our patients the best care we can provide, we also offer a variety of resources to make your recovery process easier, such as financial assistance and a caregiver's guide. We even offer a pain control guide for those experiencing pain during or after their treatment.
If you or a loved one is in need of medical treatment, don't delay. Go to an Arnot Health location near you and have the patience experience you deserve.