Coby Tyner, MBA, CMPE, is the Practice Administrator for Liver Specialists of Texas. In his guest blog entry, he discusses his thoughts on the patient experience we all strive for, and hope to deliver for our patients.
It occurred to me that healthcare is changing more than most people actually realize. With Meaningful Use requirements, the Affordable Care Act, changes with CMS policies, Insurance Benefit Coordination and much more, it doesn’t surprise me that many medical practices struggle with communicating changes with many of their patients.
One way to address questions, avoid confusion, and make the patient feel like someone is actively listening is for medical practices to focus on the patient experience. The Beyrl Institute defines the patient experience as “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” Maybe this definition sounds a bit fancy but it makes sense right? So, what does that definition really mean? Simply put, every time a physician, advance practice provider or a member of the staff has ANY interaction with a patient, it should be memorable to the patient in a positive and informative way. The goal at the end of the day is to have the patient reflect positively about their experience while being cared for by all members of the medical team.
So, where does the experience start? The answer is at the beginning when the patient first calls the office or makes contact. Areas in which to focus could include, is the phone answered with a “smiling voice?” Are staff members nice and friendly and do they answer questions about the appointment, insurance requirements, and location of the office (remember, this should all be done with a smiling voice)? When the patient comes to the office, are they greeted with a smile and are staff members prepared to provide excellent service? Does the staff ensure the patient is coordinated quickly and avoid long waiting times in the lobby? Are the care providers actively listening and ready to provide quality care – all without making the patient feel rushed or discounting the patients concerns as relevant? Are billing and collection efforts done in a timely fashion and are patients able to get quick responses to their questions about a bill? Are prescription orders coordinated and filled timely? And the list goes on and on.
Bottom line, with every question previously asked, there is a direct opportunity for the member of the medical staff to impact what the patient is thinking and if the patient will remember the experience as positive. So remember, from how soon a patient can be seen to coordinating billing questions and all points in-between, focusing on the patient experience can be used to answer questions, develop long term relationships and give patients peace of mind – all while making them feel right at home. And that should be the goal of every medical practice… Just my 2 dollars.