Improving the Consumer Experience Becoming a Top Priority for Healthcare Orgs

July 16, 2019
Patient care facilities are using an array of technology to accomplish this goal

Sixty-nine percent of respondents in a recent survey said improving the healthcare consumer experience is their organization’s first or second top strategic priority in 2019.

The research, from Sage Growth Partners (SGP), a Baltimore-based healthcare research, strategy, and marketing firm, was released last week and is related to the strategies healthcare leaders are using to improve the healthcare consumer experience. The survey of hospital C-suite executives, commissioned by Docent Health, a healthcare experience and patient navigation company, also explored which strategies are most effective. They survey included responses from 100 healthcare C-suite executives from hospitals across the country in Q1 2019.

Respondents from highly competitive markets were more likely to say that improving the healthcare consumer experience is a top priority (55 percent). And, only 2 percent of respondents in highly competitive markets said it isn’t among their top four priorities.

Meanwhile, common improvement initiatives include staffing changes, technology, and patient navigation. To improve the consumer experience, organizations are using an array of technology, including telephone calls (93 percent), EHRs (90 percent), and patient portals (83 percent). Only 35 percent report using a centralized customer relationship management (CRM) platform, and only 39 percent report using text messaging.

Further, 70 percent say they have implemented additional staff and physician training to help them better interact with patients. Thirty-two percent have a dedicated C-suite executive (such as a chief experience officer) whose sole role is improving the healthcare consumer experience.

Patient navigation programs are used by more than half of respondents (57 percent). This is much higher among those who said the healthcare consumer experience is a top 2019 strategic priority (69 percent).

And, respondents report significant benefits from navigation programs, with the top benefits of these programs including improved quality outcomes (67 percent of respondents cited this benefit); improved patient engagement (67 percent); improved patient adherence to care plans (65 percent); and improved patient retention (54 percent).

The top three service lines in which respondents are using patient navigation programs are oncology (68 percent), orthopedics (53 percent), and cardiology (42 percent). And, the top ranked reasons why organizations are considering a patient navigation program include to improve patient engagement (No. 1), improve patient adherence to care plans (No. 2), reduce unnecessary utilization - readmissions (No. 3), and improve patient retention (No. 4).

“Across the industry, provider organizations are seeing that in order to remain competitive, they need to deliver more patient-centered experiences to their consumers,” said Paul Roscoe, Docent Health’s CEO. “While the survey findings show that most respondents recognize how critical this is, it was surprising to see that a significant portion haven’t taken programmatic action. Provider organizations will need to adopt enterprise-wide initiatives like patient navigation programs and relationship management technology in order to effectively support personalized outreach for consumers throughout the continuum of care.”