Patient Experience Trends in Specialist Healthcare to Watch for 2023 & Beyond
While the saying “the customer is always right” doesn’t directly translate to the context of patient experience (taking medical advice from a patient could end badly), specialist healthcare providers like physios, dermatologists and dentists do need to rethink the way they approach the patient experience if they want to stay ahead of their competition.
In a study by The Beryl Institute, 92% of survey respondents said a good patient experience is “very important” or “extremely important” to them. It's no longer just about providing great medical care, but a personal, timely and convenient experience too. But what do you actually need to do in order to create an awesome patient experience? Here are some key PX trends to stay on top of for 2023 and beyond.
Providing an Experience Beyond Medical
If you have a strained ligament, you go to the physio for a recovery plan. If you have acne scarring, you go to the dermatologist for a new skincare regimen. If your wisdom teeth are causing you grief, you go to the dentist to get them removed. The recovery plan, the skincare regimen and the removal of your wisdom teeth are the ‘medical outcome’ to your problem. But what about all the stages in between? What about the experience you have finding, booking, going to and revisiting a specialist healthcare center? How did you feel throughout the journey? That feeling (alongside the medical outcome provided) will determine whether you return the next time you have an issue, and whether you refer your friends and family.
In 2023, providing an excellent medical outcome is no longer enough. Here are the other elements you need consider:
- Speed: Waiting times – whether it’s waiting to get an appointment, delayed appointment schedules or delays in access to medication or treatment causes patients frustration, and a higher likelihood for them to look elsewhere for another provider. At every touchpoint in the patient experience, how can you improve efficiency and speed?
- Personalization: How can you make patients feel special? Not just through their unique medical treatments, but what can you do to make them feel like a valued patient, instead of just another number through the clinic?
- Convenience: As Shep Hyken, Customer Experience Expert and author of The Convenience Revolution said “Convenience is the ultimate customer experience”. Convenience is about meeting patients with where they are, with what they need and at the right time.
- Empathy: A scientific study found that healthcare staff with high levels of empathy have better diagnostic accuracy and higher patient compliance and satisfaction.
What to prioritize? The most important thing is to deliver on what matters most to your patients. How to find that out? Let’s talk about real-time feedback…
Collect Real-Time Patient Feedback
If you’re not already collecting real-time patient feedback, make 2023 the year you start. Feedback is critical for understanding what matters most to your patients, and how to create experiences that truly hit the mark.
Unfortunately, many specialist healthcare providers still rely on old-school, infrequent patient survey methods. In the UK dentist industry for example, many clinics rely on the Friends & Family Test (FFT) for patient feedback. The survey asks selected patients upwards of 20 questions about their experience, and the results are collected on a monthly or quarterly basis. While the FFT and other traditional patient surveys may provide some interesting insights, it doesn’t provide a way to directly improve the patient experience. Participation for long surveys is low, the feedback quickly becomes outdated when it’s collected so infrequently and it’s difficult to take action on.
In order to make the most out of your patient feedback, you need to close the feedback loop. That means collecting real-time feedback, and delivering straight to your patient-facing staff. This way, clinicians can see exactly what they need to do that day to improve the patient experience.
Utilize Technology that Supports Better PX
Awesome patient experiences rely on awesome patient-facing humans, but also, awesome technology. Without it, clinicians are often bogged down with administrative work (that could be easily automated) taking their time and focus away from the patient experience.
Here are some patient experience technology considerations to make in 2023:
- Digitized Appointment & Scheduling Systems: Patients should be able to book, change and schedule their own appointments online in just a few clicks. However, this should be balanced with alternative methods for patients with different needs. “Anybody over the age of 40 is probably going to be calling to make an appointment because they've been trained to do so,” says Alexandra Morehouse, Banner Health senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “That's all they know, and they like the personal connection. They're much more likely to have a personal relationship with the doctor and with the doctor's receptionist.”
- Patient Portals: Patient portals are secure websites, where patients can access health information and interact with the general practice. “Alongside promoting patient data access, the portal allows patients and providers to securely communicate about patient care needs and can ultimately improve the patient experience.” – Sara Heath, Patient Engagement Hit.
- Feedback Tools: To close the feedback loop effectively, use a real-time feedback tool that allows your patients to drop feedback that's directly funneled to their clinicians.
Ready to Win on PX in 2023 & Beyond?
- Provide an experience that goes beyond medical. Think about speed, personalization, convenience and empathy.
- Collect real-time patient feedback to help you understand what matters most to your patients, and how to deliver experiences that truly resonate.
- Use smart technology to help you improve the patient experience. When you invest in good PX tech, your employees, customers and business as a whole will thrive.
Up Next: How Schweiger Dermatology Group focused on NPS and improved their patient experience