In Healthcare, Customer Experience Goes Beyond Bedside Manner

In Healthcare, Customer Experience Goes Beyond Bedside Manner

You can auto-pay bills, board a plane with a smartphone, and track your health with a bracelet, yet at an appointment to see a doctor you’ve been visiting for years, you’re asked to answer the same questions with the same germ-covered pen on a blank piece of paper, again. Shouldn’t they know your date of birth by now? Isn’t this information stored in a computer somewhere?

The answer is, “Yes!” However, while the healthcare industry invests in advancing medical practices, it fails to realize the importance of patient experiences beyond the provider interaction. Every step in a patient’s journey is important in shaping his or her perception of a healthcare provider. To ensure a positive sentiment, each step must be quick, accurate, and intuitive to complete. The steps leading up to an appointment are especially important in setting the tone of the overall patient experience:

1. Schedule an Appointment

Why it’s important: Primary care providers need to mirror retail providers’ ability to handle walk-in appointments by providing a scheduling experience that requires minimal effort.

What it looks like: 

  • Patient is able to schedule online via desktop or mobile devices
  • If the patient calls, there is little to no hold time (<30 seconds) and first call resolution
  • Patient is scheduled for an appointment on the same day or otherwise desired day 1
  • Scheduler asks the right questions to identify the patient’s situation and ensures the correct appointment type is scheduled
  • Scheduler books the appointment correctly to prevent the need for reschedule (e.g. correct provider, correct appointment duration, etc.)

2. Preparing for and Confirming an Appointment

Why it’s important: Providers’ are booked so far in advance, making it imperative for each scheduled appointment to administer the most value possible to patients.

What it looks like: 

  • Patient receives appointment instructions at the time the appointment is scheduled
  • Patient receives notification of appointment at least 24 hours in advance through their preferred channel (call, text, email)
  • Patient is able to confirm the appointment through their preferred channel
  • If the patient calls to ask a clinical question, they are directed to someone who is able to communicate with the provider

3. Check-in and Triage for an Appointment

Why it’s important: Under-utilized technology diminishes the potential for personalization and efficiency, which patients have come to expect from other industries.

What it looks like:

  • If the system uses an online patient portal, someone at the clinic (receptionist, triaging nurse, or medical assistant) explains how to create an account
  • Patient is only required to provide medical information once per year
  • Appointment time and duration is correct
  • Clinic is running on schedule, otherwise the patient is notified through preferred channel prior to arriving for appointment
  • The clinic staff are familiar with patient information even if it is from other providers the patient is seeing within the healthcare system

If the healthcare industry began to focus on holistic patient experiences, it would look beyond the time patients spend with doctors and ensure every step in the journey was quick, accurate, and intuitive. I hope one day you can throw out the dirty pen and paper and instead have healthcare interactions with the ease technology allows if put to use effectively.

Phone: 312-602-4000
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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