Every touchpoint is an opportunity to improve or compromise the patient experience.
Today’s healthcare system is in the midst of a digital transformation accelerated by Covid-19. Patients are increasingly turning to digital channels to find information, schedule appointments, and communicate with their providers. It’s changing the way we interact with patients at every touchpoint along their patient journey.
Yet in a recent study of six common patient touchpoints, only 50% of hospitals offered an easy way to pay bills online from their homepage. That’s just one example of the many opportunities healthcare providers have to improve the patient experience.
- A patient journey map is a powerful tool to help you identify current and potential patient touchpoints.
- Modern patients experience several vital touchpoints before their visit, which can be enhanced through online scheduling and form completion tools.
- During a patient visit, the patient experience is heavily influenced by in-person touchpoints.
- Even after a patient visit, there are many opportunities to continue to engage patients.
What is a Patient Experience Touchpoint?
A patient experience touchpoint is any point at which a patient interacts with your healthcare organization. This could be through an app, a website, or a live service. Examples include:
- Booking an appointment
- Checking in at the reception desk
- Requesting medical advice
- Scheduling a test
- Asking a question
- Completing a survey to provide feedback
Just as important, many of these touchpoints can be passive, meaning that the patient is interacting with your brand and information and does not reach to you. This would include:
- Watching videos on your YouTube page
- Reviewing educational information on your website
- Reading posts on a Facebook page
Using a Patient Journey Map to Identify Touchpoints
The healthcare industry is shifting toward a more patient-centric model. In addition, today’s patients are more informed, more mobile, and more tech-savvy than ever before, making it more important than ever to ensure they feel welcome and cared for in a manner that suits their preferences.
By creating a patient journey map, your healthcare organization can identify all the touchpoints that come into play — those that are already occurring, as well as those that could be added to improve the patient experience. You can build your patient journey map by talking to your patients and clinicians to form a complete understanding of the patient experience and list every stage of the process from the patient’s point of view.
Touchpoints Before the Visit
Your patient’s experience begins well before they set foot in your practice. Modern patients expect the convenience of online services when choosing a provider, scheduling an appointment, and completing paperwork.
Your Online Presence
Seventy-one percent of patients use online reviews to choose their healthcare provider, so your online presence is a crucial component of a patient’s overall experience. You should keep your profile up to date on all major platforms and maintain a clean and easy-to-navigate website with photos, location information, and hours to help set expectations.
By establishing strong online touchpoints, you can build trust and familiarity with potential patients in search of a healthcare provider. A positive early interaction sets the tone for the entire patient experience and helps drive more business your way.
Providing online appointment scheduling allows patients to have the flexibility and convenience of booking their own appointments when and where they want, without having to call during business hours. It also relieves your staff of some of the administrative burden that manual scheduling requires.
Online appointment scheduling easily integrates with other tools such as online appointment reminders, which creates a streamlined and intuitive experience for patients that can help prevent missed appointments and cancellations.
You can further extend the convenience of online scheduling by providing a comprehensive portal through which patients can complete their insurance forms and other pre-appointment paperwork. This creates a seamless patient experience during sign-up, saving patients time on the day of their appointment. It also gives you the ability to capture additional patient information, such as a comprehensive medical history, that you can use to provide them with the best possible care.
Touchpoints During the Visit
When the patient arrives for their appointment, it’s time to deliver on the expectations set by your online services. A good visit is vital for patient satisfaction and retention.
Reception and the Waiting Room
As the first point of contact for arriving patients, your front desk staff help set the tone for the visit. A warm and welcoming demeanor will start their appointment on the right note.
The décor in the waiting room can have an equally significant impact on a patient’s impression of your practice. Comfortable chairs, warm lighting, and calm music create a soothing environment that can help make patients feel comfortable while waiting and reduce the irritation associated with wait times.
One of the most significant touchpoints in the patient experience is the appointment itself, during which they experience clinicians’ bedside manner. This can make or break the patient’s trust in your practice.
A good bedside manner isn’t just about being friendly and conversational. It’s also about making the time to ask about the patient’s family, personal life, and health concerns. It’s about asking questions to show that you’re genuinely listening before offering your opinion. It’s about being attentive, empathetic, and sensitive to the needs of every individual.
Providing a range of convenient payment options goes a long way to improving the patient experience. Online and mobile choices like Apple Pay, text-to-pay, and payment via the patient portal can make paying easy and will significantly reduce the amount of time needed to collect payments.
Touchpoints After the Visit
The patient experience doesn’t end when they leave your practice. Paying close attention to patient feedback and ongoing engagement is vital to patient retention.
Collecting feedback after each patient’s visit demonstrates your commitment to their ongoing care and helps you gather the information you need to continue meeting patient needs. One of the best ways to capture feedback is to have an online survey available after their appointment. It allows patients to provide feedback at their own convenience and makes the data you collect easily accessible for analysis.
Ongoing Patient Engagement
Patient engagement should empower patients to become active participants in their own healthcare journeys. Effective follow-up communication helps patients comply with their care and recovery plans, keeps them informed, and encourages preventative care going forward. Through email, text, or their patient portal, you can continue to engage your patients beyond their initial visit with:
- Shared notes from their visit
- Reminders for checkups and other follow-up appointments
- Customized educational content
- Teach-back quizzes
- News and updates
Patient engagement improves retention rates and loyalty and provides your patients with an ongoing sense of value from the care you provide.
How Automated Patient Engagement Can Enhance the Patient Experience
From online scheduling to automated reminders, the patient experience can be improved at many touchpoints through personalized care automation solutions. Wellbe’s ConnectedCare supports the entire patient journey, automating hundreds of administrative tasks to help you provide exceptional service.
Get in touch to find out how personalized care automation can enhance your patients’ experience today.