Most physicians, providers, and practice managers are already aware of the patient experience as a concept. Distinct and different from patient satisfaction, the patient experience is a measure of how patients feel about every aspect of their visit, including but not limited to the patient’s perception of care.
Unfortunately, many providers forget that most patients begin their visit long before they walk through your clinic doors.
After all, 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate providers and physicians. These patients are already online–likely checking your reviews and your website–long before they set foot in your office. Which means to make a good first impression–and to exert more control over the patient experience–you need to have a patient experience model that encompasses the digital realm.
What is the Patient Experience?
Everyone probably has their own idea of what the patient experience truly is. So it’s probably helpful to define the term. The patient experience is the totality of every interaction your patient has with your healthcare brand.
This is different from patient satisfaction (though patient satisfaction is a part of the patient experience). In this way, patient experience can itself be quite complex. But it’s important because creating a great patient experience can lead to a healthier business and better outcomes for patients.
What Counts as Part of the Patient Experience?
Obviously, the care a patient receives at your clinic is part of the patient experience. But so too are the following:
- Making an appointment on your website.
- Making an appointment at your clinic via the phone.
- Looking at information in your patient portal.
- Paying bills and fees.
- Ancillary services (for example, physical therapy or in-home care arranged through your clinic).
- After care and recovery (for example, the recovery instructions provided after a surgical procedure).
- The ability to find the information on your website that is important to them.
- The messages and interaction they experience on social media.
- The ads that show up promoting your facility – both online and in print.
- Content that shows up when they google their symptoms or healthcare related questions.
- Billboard ads.
- Messaging and signage inside your facility.
- Radio and TV ads.
- And more.
So How Do You Improve Patient Experience?
Patient experience touches so many aspects of your healthcare organization and the way it interacts with patients. That’s why, at PatientX, we take a six-pronged approach to improving patient experience:
- Brand Health – Your brand is your overall messaging strategy as it finds itself worked into everything you do. Your brand is always communicating. The trick is to make sure it’s communicating in a way that improves the patient experience.
- Website Health – The vast majority of people will spend less than five minutes on your website. That’s not much time–but it’s critical that you make a good first impression in this digital space.
- Online Reputation – Over 70% of patients will search online reviews before ever setting up an appointment. This makes reputation management critical to setting the expectations for a good patient experience.
- Cultural Health – It might not feel like it, but your office culture makes a big difference. It’s something that patients can often sense, and it permeates your clinic.
- Patient Satisfaction – Patient satisfaction is a part of the patient experience. And, of course, it’s good to make sure patients are as satisfied as possible!
- Referral Network – The physicians and providers you refer to also reflect on you! (And vice versa.)
As you can see, well over half of these pillars reside in a digital space. Which means that your digital patient experience is exceptionally important.
How Can You Improve Your Digital Patient Experience?
The first step in improving your digital patient experience is simple. Recognize that most people–fairly or unfairly–will judge you first based on your online reviews and on your website.
Once you’ve made this acknowledgement, you can focus on shaping patient expectations and delivering a quality experience much earlier in the process. This can include tasks such as:
- Creating a website that’s easy to use.
- Providing a billing platform that’s easy to use.
- Using reputation management strategies to ensure your reviews are accurate and plentiful.
- Ensuring that your branding and messaging is consistent in digital spaces.
- And more!
Partner with Patient Experience Experts
That might sound like a lot of work–especially if you’re already trying to make more time to see patients. That’s why it’s often a good idea to partner with a marketing agency well versed in the concept of patient experience.
At PatientX we know what a great patient experience can do for you–and for your patients! Contact us today to talk about developing a new model for your patient experience, including in digital spaces.
About the Author:
Michael is the CEO of PatientX, a fast-growing healthcare marketing and branding firm. PatientX strategically develops digital innovations and strategic ideas to encourage patients to view their healthcare providers with a fresh, forward-thinking perspective, and, thus, to nurture better relationships between patient and provider. In his role as CEO, Michael takes great pleasure in helping healthcare providers and healthcare B2B clients with the unique challenges they face. With over 15 years in his field, Michael is no stranger to the challenges one faces in marketing and branding, and he is able to draw from his deep well of experience to deliver optimal strategies and solutions.