Myths of patient experience platforms

As disastrous and horrific as the coronavirus pandemic has been, many good things have come from it too.

The pandemic has spurred many trends that had already been ongoing. Remote work, slow travel, and online eCommerce had already been on the rise when the pandemic became a global crisis and social distancing measures meant they became much more prevalent.

The adoption of digital healthcare systems, or patient experience platforms, is just one of those trends. Telehealth platforms became necessary as social distancing protocols meant that doctors and physicians needed a way to safely continue operating.

As with all new ways of doing things, the adoption of patient experience platforms requires an adjustment period. Patient experience and telehealth platforms are new. Not every practice in the healthcare sector has embraced it whole-heartedly. The terms ``patient experience platforms” and “telehealth” are often used interchangeably.

Many hospital managers, physicians, and private doctors are skeptical of telehealth. Many of the most-common concerns among medical professionals have been alleviated, whether by recent studies or the individual case-studies of private healthcare practices.

We’ll define what patient experience is and analyze some of the commonly held misconceptions regarding it.

What Is Patient Experience?

In the same way that marketing is the sum of a customer’s interactions with a brand, patient experience is the sum total of a patient’s interactions with a healthcare practice such as a hospital or a doctor’s office.

A patient experience platform helps to manage those interactions, in the same way that you would use an automation platform like HubSpot to manage your marketing workflows. Telehealth platforms are used for tasks like scheduling online appointments, facilitating virtual visits, maintaining client/doctor communication portals, and sending automated reminders for care procedures.

Difference Between Patient Experience and Patient Satisfaction

Patient experience and patient satisfaction are two terms that mean similar but subtly different things.

Patient experience is quantitative and measurable, and refers to factors like:

  • Patient appointment attendance
  • Communication between doctors and patients
  • Use of patient feedback surveys to improve care

Patient satisfaction, meanwhile, is qualitative and subjective. It refers to how much the patient experience meets the quality expectations and standards of the patient.

Patient satisfaction can depend on very subtle things, and many of them are related to patient experience. Even minor disruptions in the patient experience can negatively impact it.

  • A few ways to improve patient satisfaction include:
  • Offering personalized care
  • Investing time in educating your patients
  • Maintaining clean, sterile rooms
  • Leaving yourself open to patient questions and concerns

Patient experience is closely tied to the real-life processes and inner workings of your healthcare practice, namely the quality of care that your clinic provides as well as the level of your disease management and prevention.

Myth #1: Quality Care Needs to Happen Face to Face

Fact: Patient experience platforms improve the quality of in-person care

A healthcare practice or hospital is a business. It’s an idea to many people in the healthcare sector, but it’s true. Healthcare is expensive, time-consuming, and requires sophisticated equipment to be effective—that money has to come from somewhere.

A healthcare practice also requires hundreds of administrative, logistical, financial, and communication-based tasks to function—many of which are unrelated to your patient’s care.

Patients need to be reminded of their appointments, follow-up care has to be administered to make sure your patient is taking their medication and following your instructions, lab reports have to be organized and made accessible to both you and the patient in a way that’s HIPAA compliant.

Patient experience platforms automate a lot of these cumbersome busywork tasks so that you can focus on helping people by being a doctor.

The GetWell Loop self-report indicated that patient experience platforms reduced unnecessary office visits by 84% and $75 per visit. That adds up to a lot of extra funds in your bank account you can use on more staff and better equipment.

Myth #2: Only Younger Generations Use Telehealth

Fact: Older generations like baby boomers are just as likely to use telehealth as millennials or ‘Gen Z’ers’.

It’s commonly thought that only millennials and ‘Gen Z’ers’ embrace new technology like social media, smartphones, and digital healthcare. This isn’t true: older generations like baby boomers and the silent generation are just as likely to make use of digital healthcare.

Why? Because patient experience platforms make healthcare more accessible to elderly people who don’t have as much mobility or require more nuanced or intensive care.

When it comes to primary care, awareness of online services like booking appointments is most prevalent in adults ages 65-74.

Myth #3: Quality, Personalized Patient Care is Non-Scalable

Fact: Patient experience platforms not only delivery quality healthcare, they do so at-scale

Private practice physicians often argue that automation platforms take the human element out of a necessarily human profession, and that you can’t scale a practice that puts people at the center of it.

This isn’t so. Telehealth helps a practice to grow and reach more patients by delivering better quality healthcare.

We’ve already established how telehealth platforms free up more space for patient care by automating administrative tasks for you and your staff.

A typical office visit typically lasts 17 minutes. That’s not very much time to make potentially life-altering decisions regarding your patient’s long-term care. Especially if that time is spent answering unnecessary questions which can be easily answered with a Google search or by reading your FAQ page.

Myth #4: Patient Experience Platforms Treat Healthcare Like a Business and Patients Like Numbers Instead of people

Fact: Patient experience platforms enhance doctor-patient interactions, not replace them.

An essential characteristic of any good doctor is empathy for other people. It involves dealing with potentially life-threatening situations with calm, grace, and compassion at all times.

Many healthcare professionals are justifiably skeptical about using automation platforms to replace that human element at the heart of all good healthcare. How do you train an algorithm to have empathy for sick or injured people?

Turns out, patient experience platforms make doctors more accessible to their patients, not less.

They facilitate communication between doctors and patients through online portals and virtual visits where quick, one-off questions can be answered. They also streamline your clinic’s workflows and leave you more time with your patients during appointments.

Myth #5: Patient Engagement Platforms are Prohibitively Expensive to Roll-Out

Fact: Patient experience platforms save you money in the long run.

Patient experience platforms improve patient satisfaction. Patient satisfaction leads to long-term relationships. Long-term patient relationships mean repeat patients. Repeat patients are how your practice makes money, and more importantly earns a good reputation.

Many providers have an 80% retention rate for patients who register with their online within the first 30-days of their intake appointment.

It doesn’t stop there either. That improved patient loyalty leads to:

  • Improved appointment attendance: fewer cancellations or no-shows that drain your money and waste your time
  • More referrals: patients who have been with you for longer are more likely to recommend you to friends and family and write about you online
  • Better bill pay reminders: make sure that you get your money on time
  • Trackable ROI: you spend less money on traditional marketing methods like fliers and TV commercials where you don’t know how much of your investment yo’re getting back

Many of the negative perceptions regarding patient experience platforms and other telehealth technologies are countered by statistical research and the observable facts.

Telehealth platforms help you grow your practice while maintaining the quality of care by:

  • Facilitating communication between doctors and patients
  • Making quality care more accessible to elderly people
  • Enhancing doctor-patient interactions
  • Saving time and money by automating mundane, routine administrative tasks

About the Author
Lisa C. Baker is a freelance writer, consultant for NexHealth, and BSN candidate in Atlanta, Georgia.