The Healthcare Consumer – Understanding Expectations and Experiences, in the Patient’s Journey

Abhinav Shashank
Fri 25 Aug 2017
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A patient’s expectation, whether in a city or an extremely remote area, from the doctors and hospital staff, is the same and it goes without saying that this recipient of health care services deserves to get what he/she needs; to be treated with best quality medicine, less time-consuming procedure and least costly treatment. Coupled with this, the one who is suffering wants the complete attention of the doctor, nurses and care team while being entitled to stay fully informed about his/her health condition. What this means is, the experience of care for any patient is of utmost importance.

Patient-centric care

The center of care is the patient. The entire industry of hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses and care teams exists because patients exist. Their central role in the healthcare continuum begs our focus towards their journey in this realm.

At its core, patient-centric care is about maximizing the value for the patient; the first step leading to this is respecting the needs of the patient and aligning them with the decisions made during his experience of care. This involves an equal participation of the patient in his care as well as shared decision-making amongst him and his doctor. Support from the doctor is just as essential for the patient. Giving a chance to the patients to improve his health by regular and continuous follow-ups and timely preventative care. Patient feedback and managed care plans are other ways to drive better care.

  • Brings about continuity in care

Since the aim of patient-centric care is to also focus on the wellness of the patient, along with curing sickness, the predominant point of care in such a scenario is the primary care physician. The EHRs connectivity ensures that there is continuity in care through constant precautions and preventive measures being advised by the PCPs to the patient.

  • Benefits all stakeholders in health care

Along with patients, physicians, clinicians, PCPs, nurses, health coaches, and other healthcare professionals come together through increased engagement amongst themselves in a patient-centric ecosystem. This eventually leads to decreased overall expenses.

  • Besides patient outcomes, improves other important outcomes

Through the engagement of all stakeholders of healthcare, as mentioned above, and guiding all decisions about the patient’s health with the involvement of his family members, a hospital increases its efficiency, thereby improving the financial outcomes.

  • Expectations of patients, providers, and payers find common ground

Higher quality service and more value-per-cost are two things that everyone involved with health care expects out of a hospital. Hospitals, therefore, by investing in a patient-centric system can have a competitive edge over others who still follow traditional methods.

A proactive and comprehensive patient-centric care can transform the disease care system into a health care system.

Why are patients not getting the care they deserve?

  • Escalating Costs

Patients are often burdened with multiple tests and medical prescriptions resulting in truckloads of bills. By tracking the health of the patient and efficiently measuring outcomes, hospitals could maintain the high costs of healthcare and ensure a better experience for their patients.

  • Shortfalls in quality

Patients experience inconvenience at the hands of hospitals in the form of long wait times and unavailability of physicians. This lowers the quality of care provided. If hospitals are to maintain low readmission rates and score high on various quality metrics, then it’s important that they improve the quality of healthcare.

  • Need for better implementation of patient experience reforms

There needs to be directed focus towards the present state that the U.S. healthcare is in to get where we want to truly. Instead of looking at temporary measures and minor fixes here and there, the hospital administrators and staff members must collaborate to bring in a grand plan with numerous changes so that we can extend our complete focus on the end-user— the patient.

How can we improve the patient care experience?

Listing below some of the measures that can be undertaken to increase patient satisfaction and enhance their experience of care:

  • Through Care Management

Care managers are responsible for the tracking and monitoring of patients as they transition across the care continuum. When physicians, nurses and, health coaches come together to better manage the care of patients, it will improve the overall health outcomes of the hospital. Patients themselves will feel like they are really being attended to.

  • By increasing patient engagement

Patients should always be kept in the loop on what is happening in their care plan and on the status of progress they are making. Hospitals can also look towards having “on-call” providers so that patients can attempt contact during emergency situations. Virtual visits by physicians is another way to keep the patients engaged apart from sending them regular updates on their cell phones. Through all these and more emphatic solutions to drive engagement, patients should be able to experience the ease of care.

  • Inculcating empathy amongst the staff

All the diverse needs of a patient need to be addressed. That is why it is most essential that the hospital staff involved in the care of someone is really able to keep themselves in the patient’s shoes and empathize with him. When they understand the patient’s need as their own, they will pay way more attention to the said patient.

  • Closing communication gaps

Just as it is important to engage a patient, it is equally necessary to close gaps in communication that may exist between provider and beneficiary. Through personalized care, the involvement of the family member and multilingual care we can transform the experience of the patients. Patients will be able to select and choose the kind of care they prefer for themselves which is in accordance with the wishes of their family and all this in the choice of language they want.

Think about how satisfying such an experience would be for you if you were the patient? Even from a consumerist point of view, a patient is bound to come back to the same provider after an excellent care experience.

How far has Health IT helped?

Health Information Technology has been instrumental in transforming the patient care experience. In 1991, EHRs brought about a fundamental shift in care because, for the first time in the history of healthcare, patient workflows were accounted for. Come 2017, patients have become the very source of information, and all encounters take place online. With accurate data input, physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other members of the care team can drive better informed and evidence-based decisions. Proper charting of patient records facilitates proper coding and billing processes for the patient.

By making healthcare more patient-focussed, we can fix the system once and for all. Giving more attention to patients and ensuring that they have an active role in their care and are not just passively receiving treatment is the way to go. This isn’t just to make the patient content with the services, although that helps, but also to achieve better health outcomes for him as we tread along the path of patient centric-care.


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Tags: Accountable Care, Healthcare
Abhinav Shashank
The Healthcare Consumer – Understanding Expectations and Experiences, in the Patient’s Journey

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