At its core, healthcare organizations revolve around the patient. Like any other business, the healthcare industry is consumer oriented. There are customers to take care of—literally—which is why it’s important to create a great patient experience.

However, with COVID-19 putting a lot of pressure on the industry, maintaining a patient-centered approach has become a challenge. The pandemic has forced hospitals and clinics to reimagine the patient experience, and the industry needs all the help it can get.

To provide a pleasant experience that optimizes care quality and reduces patient churn, healthcare facilities should consider leveraging big data analytics to customize the journey based on their own patients.

 

What is the patient experience?

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the patient experience refers to the “range of interactions patients have with the healthcare system”. This includes everything from consultations with doctors to the time spent in waiting rooms.

But although it’s vital for a patient to feel as if their visit was satisfactory, it’s important to distinguish patient experience from patient satisfaction, which is more of a subjective measure. For example, a patient may not like the layout of their hospital room, but it may have been designed in such a way that nurses would have no difficulties responding to emergency situations and performing their duties efficiently. Optimal placement would trump personal opinion in this case.

Instead, the patient experience is more concerned with improving the quality of healthcare interactions. The goal is that after a hospital stay, consultation, or any other care interaction, the patient is left with a positive perception of the facility. They would feel that they had been adequately cared for.

 

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Advanced Analytics for better care

The healthcare industry has always adopted an evidence-based culture and thus is no stranger to data and reporting. Medical professionals already work with electronic health records, diagnostic results, pharmaceutical research, and more.

What’s important is to regularly make sense of the wealth of information through advanced and big data analytics. Below are some ways where the insights gained can make an impact on the patient experience.

1. Capacity management

Overcrowded waiting rooms and emergency rooms not only worsens the patient experience, but also increases their risk of being exposed to other infections. Through machine learning, healthcare facilities can forecast demand and efficiently allocate limited resources such as hospital beds and medical practitioners available.

Must-read: How Analytics helps with demand forecasting, capacity planning

2. Process efficiency

Modifying just a few aspects in healthcare workflows has the potential to affect patient experience significantly. Automating certain processes and incorporating technology in administrative processes can create a better hospital environment. Leverage predictive analytics to stay on top of administrative challenges such as appointment cancellations.

3. Risk management

The strategic management of health risks can go a long way in optimizing care processes and the patient experience. Early detection can give way to timely intervention—and improved health outcomes as well. Through advanced analytics, use pattern recognition to identify patients at risk of developing a certain condition or contracting a certain disease in the early stages, and take the necessary steps proactively.

Related: Can predictive analytics help COVID-19 deaths from rising with early sepsis intervention?

4. Proactive care

To maximize the quality of patient care, healthcare organizations should go beyond doling out patient care only as needed. Go a step further and anticipate the needs of patients to deal with any potentially significant concerns. Make use of advanced analytics in healthcare to have a better understanding and 360-degree view of patients, and use the insights gained to provide better feedback, guidance, and support.

5. Service improvement

There’s always room for improvement, and the best notes can be found in patient feedback. Conduct a text and sentiment analysis on social media comments, survey answers, patient communications, and the like to identify areas of success and areas for improvement. With visibility into patient concerns, the healthcare industry can create an experience that addresses pressing needs.

 

Make the shift towards patient-centered care

In a coffee shop, a barista gives out a pleasant greeting and carefully crafts a perfect cup of coffee so that customers are sure to come back for more. In the same vein, medical professionals should take extra care to provide a safe and comfortable experience for patients in order to build and earn their trust.

By incorporating analytics in the patient care process, organizations can optimize clinical decision making, streamline administrative tasks, and augment the efforts of medical staff. By automating certain tasks like appointment setting, rescheduling, and anticipating potential cancellations, medical professionals can focus on the clinical side of things and provide one-on-one, personalized services to patients.

In other words, medical professionals will have more time and energy to provide a positive experience. After all, in a study conducted by Press Ganey, the key determinants of positive patient experience include confidence in the provider, coordination of care, concern providers show, listening, and courtesy.

With analytics optimizing and automating processes, doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners can focus on providing quality care and making patients feel safe and well taken care of.

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