New technology and access to data have transformed the patient’s hospital journey.
With Meaningful Use Stage 2 now in effect, patients will increasingly seek access to healthcare portals and providers interacting with patients via their electronic medical records.
Many of the recent technology advancements have been promoted as improvements to the patient experience. But in reality they are aimed at reducing health system costs.
Consumers have grown accustomed to a high touch service within other industries. You can be certain they will expect the same in their healthcare experience.
If your hospital or health system is thinking about how to positively affect the patient journey, here are a few important things to consider:
1. Create personas and segment communication according to unique differences
In order to appeal to and attract your ideal patient, you must understand them. Start by creating personas — behavioral and demographic data of the most valuable patients, which help to create a profile of the patient. Once you have established segments which represent unique patient groups, this information can be used to segment your communication appropriately.
One health system used its segmented, persona-based approach to advance its regional outpatient support centers for patients seeking elective or other high value procedures. These integrated services were targeted to segments of healthy consumers within the region of service based on the way these personas liked to receive information. The improved targeting was largely responsible for the campaign’s success.
2. Treat physicians like you treat patients.
Physicians and affiliated practices are an important part of a hospital and health system network. Communicate to them the same way you do patients. For starters, include them in your patient communications so they can participate in the branded outreach and themes for their own patients. They become an extending voice in positioning these messages for your network.
One hospital took this idea to the next level by including physician practice coordination and visual dashboard support. This information displayed each physicians’ “success” creating engagement to their patients. By being a partner in the practices’ success, the hospital has further influence in marketing outreach.
3. Never lose sight of the patient.
From the time a patient receives community outreach communication or initial care via an emergency room visit, he/she has become a “customer.”
Start the relationship by thinking of them as a customer. During that initial ER visit ask fewer, more foundational questions and synthesize the information for the benefit of the patient. This approach will ensure communication is less obtrusive and more supportive
One hospital applied this idea with great results. Their post-hospital interaction communication was based on the depth of care, severity of treatment and previously determined segment. This personalization, post care, sloped the communication cost curve to focus communications spend on patients with highest value and needs and continued the positive experience with potential patient referrals.
4. Build measurement and share results
Measurement and communication go hand in hand when you are defining the patient journey. Whether you are in a hospital or a health system – define a measurement plan and appoint someone to lead the charge. Create a measurement plan tied directly to patient-centered metrics.
Data and insights are most helpful in digestible formats. Circulate success highlights and dashboards with short and insightful progress reports. Data for data sake does not provide sustainable behavior change in either the system employees or the patient experience.
Like most significant process change, patient journey improvement will take time, leadership and vision. Whether a single hospital or a multi-hospital chain, we are being called upon to create deeper relationships with our patients by improving the entire patient journey. Segmentation, a system-wide prioritization and incorporating data into a proactive visual model is a terrific improvement to the “one size fits all” siloed communication plan it replaces.