Guest post by Abhinav Shashank, CEO & Co-founder, Innovaccer.
Whatever we do in the healthcare space, it is eventually meant for the greater good of patients, which is why today the aim of modern healthcare is shifting towards value-based reimbursement and with that the process is getting modified accordingly. Gradually, patient-centric care is becoming prevalent. The current standards require enhanced patient experience, and that comes with improved quality, coordinated care at a reduced cost.
CMS when releasing the fact sheet for Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program for the year 2016, said in a statement, “We now pay hospitals for inpatient acute care services based on the quality of care, not just the quantity of services provided.” Backing this statement was the fact that out of the four quality domains, patient experience of care bore 25 percent of the weight. This led to hospitals working earnestly towards enhancing the patient experience and utilizing the massive potential to qualify for the bonus and improve on current standards.
Why does Patient Experience Matter?
Patient experience is an essential component of the IHI Triple Aim, a schema for elevating the standards of providers’ performance:
- Improving the patient experience of care.
- Improving population health.
- Reducing the per capita cost of healthcare.
Fortunately, health systems know that patient satisfaction isn’t just a tool for a performance bonus. Improving patient satisfaction is a way to identify gaps in care delivery and develop quality services. Also, according to a survey conducted by a health system found that out of 1,019 adults interviewed, 85 percent were dissatisfied with at least one aspect of their providers. Creating a patient-centric industry where experience and satisfaction of patients are overlooked is almost impossible!
Improving Patient Experience
A lot of researches have established that improving patient experience directly results in higher quality of care. Healthcare systems have realized the importance of the Triple Aim, and here’s how they can start working in this order on improving one of the fundamental aspects:
Patient Engagement a Priority
Patient engagement has been one of the most talked-about aspects of healthcare and unquestionably a way to improve the care experience. What we need to ensure is that the patient is willing to participate in the decision-making and the provider advocating this intervention. Even though healthcare providers are making efforts to improve patient engagement at their end, a survey revealed that only 34 percent of the patients are highly encouraged. Some effective methods patients found useful are:
- 59 percent of the surveyed people found increased physician-patient time vital.
- 54 percent of the patients favored being part of the decision-making.
- 36 percent promoted the growth of patient access to services.
Using Data Analytics
Data analytics have proven their worth in healthcare, and we have only scratched the surface of the immense sea of possibilities that can be realized using data analytics. When it comes to advancing patient experience, data analytics can be used in several ways:
- Gathering data and creating actionable follow-up plans for patients.
- Leveraging data analytics for accurate analysis of patients and reducing readmission rate.
- Data analysis can zero in on inefficiencies and medical errors and help reduce avoidable expenses.
Understanding the Patient
A lot has been done when it comes to understanding the patient and listening to them, and a lot more can be done. Establishing a relationship with the patient is paramount, and more than half of the patients interviewed believed that their relationship with their providers could be better, while 82% of them considered that empathetic doctors are crucial. Listening to patients’ problems, building a rapport with them and making follow-up plans would result in a stronger bond between physicians and patients.
Focusing on Physician Engagement
The merits of strong physician engagement are being realized gradually in the recent times, and there is no denying that prominent physician engagement works its way towards improving quality and enriching patient experience. Physician engagement creates an affinity between physicians with an inclusion of values and ethics, and the ultimate goal of improving patient care will be the driving force for them. Every time there is even one percent increase in physician engagement, the overall hospital HCAHPS rating increases by 0.33 percent and the chances of patients’ recommending the hospital rises by 0.25 percent!
Putting Technology to Use
Every small detail matters. For instance, Care Coordinators with simple contact details of patients can get in touch with them to find out their health status and plan care plan accordingly. One where it is made sure that patient has the means of transport for follow-up visits, medications, caretaker, and many necessities that contribute in delivering quality healthcare. When the patient changes the PCP, the information is transferred for continued care.
There could be other relevant use cases to quality management, patient 360, and other PHM activities.In this day and age, technology can be harnessed in a million ways and can come in handy for perfecting patient experience. Today, we have mHealth to connect patients on the go, patient portals providing transparency and wearable technology equipped with real-time alerts. All we need is to tap this potential and the gaps in patient satisfaction will patch up.
Patient Experience is not just a metric
Improving patient experience is a task for some, an opportunity for many. In the shift towards value-based care, patient experience is not just another metric mentioned by the CMS that hospitals need to report on. Patient satisfaction is more than a regulatory requirement that providers have to meet; it’s a way to identify gaps in caregiving, a way to improve the quality of services and more than anything, it is an indication of how well a health system is doing.
Patient experience is not just about inpatient experience; it extends to post-episode care. The goals undertaken by providers influence patient experience, and a rich patient experience shapes health outcomes. Aiming for sound and wholesome patient experience is central to delivering value-based care.