The patient experience encompasses the range of interactions that patients have with the healthcare system, including their care from health plans, and from doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities.


Contents

Here, we outline exactly what Patient Experience is, and why it is important, in short, digestible chunks. You can read our guide from top to bottom, or skip to a point that is most relevant for your needs.

  1. How to improve the patient experience with effective communication
  2. Disrupting the patient waiting room to improve your patients’ experience
  3. Optimising your patient journey through technology
  4. The Benefits Of Understanding Your Patient Journey
  5. Defining the Patient Experience with Service Design
  6. How Service Design Blueprints can help you improve your patients’ journey
  7. Five steps to creating a better patient experience (and why it matters)
  8. Three challenges when communicating wait times to patients
  9. How to Minimise Stress and Frustration Through Communication in the Waiting Area
  10. Service design for the patient of the future

 

 1. How to improve the patient experience with effective communication

outpatient waiting room_600

Patients today have high expectations of your service.

This means that every interaction is an opportunity to apply patient-centred design thinking, improve the quality of service and enhance the overall patient experience.

Communication plays a key role in this. 

Let’s say we increase the level of communication between you, the patient, and the local healthcare clinic.

You have a scheduled appointment at 10:00am. You arrive at 9:40am to make sure that you are ready to see the healthcare provider on time. Then, you check-in for your appointment using the kiosk at the entrance to the facility.

Next, you are advised that, unfortunately, the healthcare provider will be approximately 30 minutes late this morning. However, they also tell you that if you provide your mobile number, you will be alerted when they are nearly ready to see you. Knowing this allows you to have some freedom around your wait time, making the experience more tolerable. 

Effective patient communication is essential for delivering quality patient care and building good relationships. Clear, accurate, and timely communication maximises performance, improves patient outcomes and optimises service delivery. It also shows compassion and respect.

Read more about this here.

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2. Disrupting the patient waiting room to improve your patients’ experience

Changing the waiting room

The waiting room, by very virtue of its name, has negative connotations for patients. For many, this is one of the first interactions they have with your clinic and whatever happens in the waiting room affects the general patient experience. The most pressing concern is always the long wait time.

At its heart, a good patient experience is comprised of removing friction (pain points) and creating an emotional connection. It takes around 12 positive experiences to make up for an unresolved negative one, so here are five steps to help you eliminate pain points from your waiting room:

1. Map the patient journey.
2. Measure the experience.
3. Embed change, iterate or move on.
4. Share these changes to get buy-in
5. Use the power of technology

Find out more about Disrupting the Waiting Room here.

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Case Study_GCUH-1

3. Optimising your patient journey through technology

We live in a digital era where time is a very precious commodity.

Optimising your patient journey through technology can dramatically improve patient wait times, save money and minimise risk within healthcare facilities.

One example of this is the Gold Coast University Hospital, where they were able to decrease their patient check-in wait times from 20 minutes down to just 30 seconds after implementing innovative patient technology solutions.

With the continual growth and rising competition within the healthcare sector, ensuring a positive patient experience is now more critical than ever. Reviewing your patient journey regularly and investing in new solutions can lead to ongoing improvements in your processes, clinical treatments and more.

Read the Case Study here.

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4. The Benefits Of Understanding Your Patient Journey

patient centre

By working to understand your patient journey, you’re looking to put yourself in their shoes to gain insights into their experience with your healthcare facility from start to finish.

When you track your patient journey, you gain the opportunity to provide accountability, data accuracy and measurability to your organisation’s systems and processes. You’ll also experience benefits such as: 

  • Improved competency within departments and services

  • Streamlined business reporting and auditing capabilities

  • Timely and effective communications with the patient

  • Improved administrative efficiency and management transparency

We live in a digital era where time is a very precious commodity. Optimising your patient journey through technology can dramatically improve patient wait times, save money and minimise risk within healthcare facilities. Find out more about the benefits of understanding your patient journey here.

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5.Defining the Patient Experience with Service Design

Define Patient ExperienceOne of the common misconceptions in the healthcare industry is that the patient experience should be focused predominantly on healthcare alone.

The general public’s rising expectations of healthcare services means that every provider must take steps to improve their patient interactions. 

The key to improving service design when it comes to patient satisfaction levels revolves a lot around your teams and the systems that support them. More than anything, providing a positive patient experience also empowers your staff to feel fulfilled and satisfied with their work as well.

Excellent service design ensures that all aspects of a patient’s healthcare journey make them feel valued and respected. It involves creating a positive environment for patients, staff, carers and volunteers through effective communication and the recognition of needs. Coupled with safe and high-quality care, service design minimises patient dissatisfaction and enables you to deliver a holistically pleasant experience – every time.

Read more here.

 

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6. How Service Design Blueprints can help you improve your patients’ journey

blueprintA service design blueprint is essentially the patient’s journey, mapped out from start to finish, with all of the supportive services included, showing the role each play at every stage.

For instance, the first patient step may be their interaction with the clinic when looking to book an appointment. So, at this initial touchpoint, the service blueprint would detail how the patient can book the appointment, such as calling or booking online, as well as what the systems and staff do at this point – and so on.

By spending the time mapping out the entire patient journey, it’s easier for your team to see where the best service is being provided and where improvements need to be made. A service design blueprint shows all of the systems and staff activities that support the patient journey so that these “behind the scenes” events can be identified and improved.

Read more about Service Design blueprints here.

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7. Creating a better patient experience (and why it matters)

infographicBy fostering a positive patient experience, a medical organisation can create better health outcomes and achieve higher patient retention rates, which is a win for everyone.

Healthcare facilities can utilise customer feedback to map the patient journey and assess their experience to:

  • identify underlying issues and opportunities.
  • continually improve service standards.
  • identify processes that aren’t working for staff and/or patients.

For patients, capturing their feedback demonstrates that their input is appreciated, heard and valued. Internally, this feedback aids in establishing service KPIs and fostering a culture of innovation within your workforce. 

Likewise, staff members who see your commitment to the continuous improvement and development of your facility can make them feel good about where they work and be more willing to contribute to its success. Find out more about streamlining your patient journey here.

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8. Three challenges when communicating wait times to patients

medical time

Waiting times are one of the key quality metrics that can be used to define a positive or negative patient experience. While it can be complicated to communicate waiting times, the implications of not doing so can often be far worse. Let’s consider the negative impacts of not communicating wait times with patients:

  • Poor patient experience: Waiting for too long with no indication of when they may see the doctor is often a dealbreaker for most patients, leading to walkouts and a lack of return business.

  • Distorted perception of care: Patients who leave before being seen by the doctor often associate the extended wait time with a poor quality of care provided by the facility.

  • Damage to reputation: The first two points can lead to long-lasting damage to the reputation of the clinic if the patient decides to vent their frustration online or to friends and family. This means damaging word of mouth continues to spread.

By being aware of the risks involved with not communicating wait times, this can help your clinic find ways to communicate and even mitigate long wait times, rather than doing nothing and potentially damaging your reputation even further. Communication and education are key to overcoming these challenges and providing solutions for both parties. Read more here.

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9. How to Minimise Stress and Frustration Through Communication in the Waiting Area

open communication

For many patients, the feeling of sitting in a waiting room and watching the minutes on the clock tick further and further past the time of their scheduled appointment is an all too familiar and frustrating one.

This can be detrimental to the operations of a healthcare provider, especially if it’s happening on a daily basis. People will then share their experiences with others and leave reviews, making the situation worse.

A patient’s feelings towards their healthcare provider can be highly dependent on the quality of their patient experience. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Medical Practice Management found that 96% of all patients attribute their frustration to a poor patient experience, rather than the quality or skill of their medical professional.

This is where NEXA’s Q-Flow platform comes in. Q-Flow is a digital tool that automatically organises your patients into a virtual queue while keeping them informed of their place in the queue in real-time.

Through the power of real-time notifications, you are providing a quality patient experience that leaves them feeling informed and valued. This will also clear up your waiting rooms and enable your staff to be more efficient. Read more here.

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10. Service design for the patient of the future

For any service design initiative to be successful, there are 5 core principles that form the foundation of service design:

1

User-centric
By placing the patient in the centre of the service, service designers are able to   discover how the patient experiences the service in its wider context. This requires a deeper understanding of patients than statistical descriptors thus service design uses empathic approaches like interviews, observations and field research to gather insights to understand patient’s true motivations, social context and habits. 

2

Co-creation
This is the process of involving stakeholders not only in the design of the solution but also in the production and development of it. The development, creation and testing of these services is called co-creation and is usually done by multidisciplinary teams. It creates a partnership between the professional groups as well as patients. 

3

Iterative Process
One of the main features of services design is not avoiding making mistakes but simply learning from them. This is achieved by prototyping and testing on end- users and stakeholders. As a designer, you can save organizations a large amount of time and money if you test the experience before resources spend lengthy periods of time developing it.

4

Visual Communication
Service designers often use visual aids like sketches, pictures or prototypes to communicate. In a collaborative team environment, it can be more expressive to draw than use words. Visual tools can be less complicated and more tangible. Clear communication between stakeholders is essential for the implementation phase.

5

Holistic Services
Holistic Services are services that look at the whole patient journey and consider each touch point of that journey. Service blue prints, user journeys and scenarios investigate holistic patient experiences and touch points. 


Following the basic principles of service design, the practical and applied framework is the service design process. The objective of this 4 step process is to effectively and holistically manage the quality and consistency of service delivery including customer interactions and experiences across the organization.

The 4 important aspects of how the process of service design can be used in the healthcare setting to successfully implement change are:

  1. Exploration
  1. Creation
  1. Reflection
  1. Implementation

You can read more details about this 4 step process here.

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A lack of communication between healthcare providers and patients can be a major cause of frustration, especially in waiting rooms. The ‘line of visibility’ is a key component of service design because it separates all service touchpoints that are visible to the patient from those that are not. By applying service design methodology to address this gap in the patient experience, we can streamline processes and implement effective communication tools to empower the patients while they wait.

Learn how service design methodology can improve communication between patients and health care providers to improve the patient experience in this 40-minute webinar. 

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