When looking at improving patient satisfaction scores, human interaction and technology automation seem like opposing solutions, but both can play a role to elevate the patient experience and improve patient engagement.
Recent research has shown that simple authetic human elements like knowing a doctor’s name, proper etiquette, and having their eye contact can give patient satisfaction a boost. At the same time, HealthLeaders reports 3 out of 4 patients are clamoring to consult with their physicians by email, which might indicate that direct human interaction may not be necessary all the time.
Technology can be used, where appropriate, to automate and enhance as much of the patient’s healthcare journey as possible, including basics like completing forms and feedback surveys. At heart, healthcare is a social activity – people caring for others – so eliminating the human interaction from the process is not possible (or ideal!).
As Micah Solomon pointed out in a Forbes article, customer satisfaction is partly based on the number and types of human interactions that take place. He asks: “Which of the human interactions your employees offer add to the customer experience, and which just get in the way?” He talks about offloading the transactional [to technology] and using the freed up human capacity to provide deeper and more meaningful personal interactions.
This is where you can start to group your patients by their need and preferences – a big satisfier. Not every patient needs or wants a home visit or a personal phone call from a nurse navigator after they are discharged. Some do, but if you implement a program that treats all patients the same with high-touch follow ups, you may get better outcomes, but it’s also a recipe for high staffing costs. On the other end, if you only use automated technology for follow-up you will exclude patients without the means for digital access and can miss opportunities to prevent readmissions.
The solution is a balance between both worlds: Focus high-touch tactics only on the patients that want or need that personal attention. Other patients could be equally satisfied with a simple text or email check-in to see how they are doing. A segmented, multichannel approach – matching the right avenue to the way your patients would like to engage – can be a better way to go.
Using this kind of multi-pronged approach to interact with patients the way they prefer offers a solution that balances the best experience at the lowest costs. High-need patients can get the high-touch personal service they are looking for, while patients who don’t need special attention are comfortable and familiar with a “self-serve” do-it-yourself experience.
If using social media and other technologies is not part of your multi-pronged approach to patients, join us for our next free webinar: “Using Social Technologies To Engage Patients Across the Continuum of Care.”
Christina Thielst, FACHE, will explore the integration of social media and underlying technologies into a healthcare organization’s communication and patient engagement strategy. It will include a review of opportunities to leverage social media as tools for business intelligence, enhancing care coordination processes and facilitating effective communications. The role of social technologies in clinical and operational initiatives and processes across the entire care continuum and for improving health outcomes will be highlighted. Register now!