Many providers confuse an excellent patient experience with excellent patient care. According to Accenture, clinicians often believe that offering quality care will drive patient loyalty, but in reality, the quality of the experience (i.e., patient perceptions of the care) is just as important as the quality of service they receive. For example, if a skin-graft patient feels that a doctor has mishandled his care or that his experience could have been better, it doesn’t matter how high-quality the graft is—the patient will still believe his experience was poor. Health systems must be proactive in identifying consumers’ needs to ensure not just positive outcomes, but also positive perceptions.
One example of how organizations are using virtual care to meet and exceed patient expectations is in bone marrow transplants. These transplant patients have a high risk of infection because their immune systems are compromised. As part of their treatment, they often take medication that increases their blood pressure, and they usually return to the hospital daily for temperature and blood pressure readings.
Due to these frequent appointments, patients often experience unnecessary stress, since they have to clear their schedules and enter places where they might come into contact with an illness or disease that their body can’t combat. However, through a recently developed telemedicine program, bone marrow transplant patients can go home with a blood pressure cuff, thermometer, and activity tracker, allowing nurses to monitor their progress remotely and reach out only to patients who need them. This ensures that caregivers’ time is always well spent—and patients are free to enjoy their homes without the pressure of daily hospital visits.
Studies have also shown that communication skills training is a crucial factor in improving the patient experience—and investing in that training will be even more valuable as physicians learn the best ways to instill confidence in patients virtually. Best practices for physicians include greater attention to vocal tone and tempo, facial expressions and body language, and extra effort to check for understanding.
Even with virtual healthcare, it is important to cultivate a positive experience for all consumers. That experience starts with a focus on clear, open communication. Ensuring that patients perceive their care as high-quality will keep them coming back for all their healthcare needs, whether that’s through in-person appointments or telehealth.
To learn more about the virtual care practices that will set your facility apart and cultivate patient loyalty, download our white paper.