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Customer Experience

How to improve the patient experience in a new era of healthcare

As healthcare providers rapidly shift to a new way of working during the COVID-19 outbreak, the patient experience has transformed overnight.

In-person consults have been replaced by video conferencing appointments. Some treatments and surgeries have been placed on hold until a later date. And patients are turning to their providers for easy-to-understand medical advice in the current climate.

This is just a brief snapshot of the change happening in the healthcare industry right now.

For many, this rapid shift and evolution has created a number of challenges - from setting up telehealth and video conferencing solutions through to keeping patients regularly updated on service changes and medical advice.

With a positive patient experience correlating with better clinical processes and outcomes, as well commercial results, healthcare providers need to urgently rethink how they manage the patient experience, such as how they capture feedback and act upon it to improve services.

Many in the healthcare industry have long wanted to redesign the patient experience in the ways now required, with the current situation the catalyst for action and change.

A leading example of great patient experience

One of the first providers to make the switch and an example of an organization leading the way in transforming its patient experience is Healthscope in Australia. The leading provider treats more than 600,000 patients annually across its 43 private hospitals.

Using modern feedback tools, over the last 18 months Healthscope has overhauled its patient experience for the digital age with great success. Since making the shift Healthscope has boosted NPS by 11 points, improved patient experience by almost 10%, and helped to reduce the number of complaints received.

Patient experience is critical to the organization, and Jeffrey Woods, Healthscope’s National Patient Experience Manager, is quick to highlight its importance.

“In healthcare we are in the business of human caring, which means it’s essential our patients feel cared for. At Healthscope this means treating patients exactly how we’d want our own friends and family treated,” said Woods.

“There is a difference between providing care and caring. Everything we do and say must reflect our genuine caring for our patients. Ultimately, our patient experience is a reflection of our level of caring and not just the care we provided,” added Woods.

Collecting feedback at scale

To better understand its patient experience, Healthscope worked with Qualtrics to redesign how the organization collected and responded to patient feedback. Within a week of being discharged, patients will now receive a digital survey to complete rating their experience. Healthscope also uses the Qualtrics platform to distribute the industry standard Australian Hospital Patient Experience Question Set (AHPEQS), Your Experience of Survey (YES), and quarterly experience surveys for its day programs.

The provider now regularly receives more than 7,000 patient responses a month, and since selecting Qualtrics to manage its patient experience has received 150,000 responses. This is a massive increase on the 6,400 annual responses the company used to get.

Patient feedback is delivered back to individual hospitals and the organization in real-time via interactive dashboards. By acting on the insights Healthscope can improve the patient experience delivered, with open comment feedback proving to be particularly useful.

“The biggest driver of improving Healthscope’s patient experience is the open comment feedback enabled by Qualtrics, which highlights the system or process issues we need to fix. Essentially, the data provided with Qualtrics ensures the decisions made to improve Healthscope’s patient experience are based on facts and data rather than just gut instinct,” said Woods.

Alongside this, patient feedback is used to ensure all Healthscope hospitals deliver a consistent level of care and service across the group at all times.

The Qualtrics platform’s ability to automatically escalate patient feedback containing keywords has been a key feature in Healthscope’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“By following keywords in our patient feedback Healthscope has been able to quickly identify and deliver the experience our patients want in the current climate. For instance, we’ve added more signage and been transparent in how we are responding to ensure we’re continuing to make people feel cared for,” said Woods.

Building a culture of action

Healthscope’s investment and commitment to delivering a better patient experience is benefitting its employees and partners too.

“Patient feedback helps us recognize the good work done by our teams, with many individuals called out by name. This is helping improve our employee experience.

“Added to this, the ease at which the Qualtrics platform can be used is empowering our teams to make a difference. It’s created a culture of action, and I regularly receive requests from teams asking to get even more value out of it,” said Woods.

Healthscope is also using real-time insights into the patient experience to help health insurers improve their customer experience, and attract the industry’s best talent to consult from its sites.

“Healthscope has the ability to give health insurers and practitioners a real-time insight into how Australians rate the experience we provide at our hospitals. This is a powerful asset for these groups because it means they can provide cover and services at the locations patients want to go,” added Woods.

Lessons for transforming the patient experience

For healthcare providers wondering how to start transforming their patient experience, Wood offers three key learnings:

  • Don’t overthink it
  • Focus on high-value areas
  • Attitude drives everything

“Transforming your patient experience is a journey - it doesn’t just happen overnight. Modern feedback tools like Qualtrics will give you full control, allowing you to rapidly make changes if needed. What’s more, there’s no need to involve third parties - which has traditionally added to cost and complexity.”

“With the right mindset, the right focus, and the right tools providers are well on their way to improving their patient experience.”

But if providers are still looking for inspiration, Woods offers two book recommendations: Fish: A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results - which uses learnings from the Seattle Fish Market to help professionals deliver better experiences - and It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy - a strategy for empowering your employees.

“Happy patients result in happy employees. And happy employees result in happy patients. The relationship between both is symbiotic,” concluded Woods.

For more information into how Healthscope is transforming the patient experience watch: Putting patients at the center of your organization.

Free webinar: Putting Patients at the Center of Your Organization