Understanding Patient Satisfaction in the Healthcare IT Industry
Let's cut to the chase. Playing to patient satisfaction is not a passing fad in healthcare technology. It is here to stay, and your marketing efforts and your actual solution need to cater to patient desires and better outcomes. How can you better understand patient satisfaction and incorporate the idea into your strategies? Keep reading.
How Changing Care Models Increase Focus on Patient Satisfaction
The state of the healthcare industry very much affects the way we treat patient satisfaction. Whether you focus on reducing workload for providers who have recently added "learning new technology" to their list of responsibilities, or you commit to helping your clients achieve an ideal HCAHPS score, your actions as a marketer are continually influenced by what's happening in the ecosystem.
Today, what's happening is a major shift from fee-for-service to value-based care models. As the shift occurs, it's becoming more and more common for hospitals to focus on higher quality care and outcomes.
"Those hospitals are rewarded for those outcomes," says Blain Newton, executive vice president at HIMSS Analytics. "So they’re looking to different technologies to help manage that process. The key is that outcomes are influenced by patient behavior and care plan compliance. Those factors are more important than ever."
Real improvement comes from ongoing engagement between patients and their care teams. It comes from family members engaging with programs via technology. Leveraging technology to get patients excited and interested in their own care is not only great for the mission of improving outcomes, but it also positively ties into the hospital's bottom line.
As a technology vendor trying to help your providers transition from fee-for-service to value-based care, "bringing solutions to market that can enable engagement is more than a nice-to-have. It's a have-to-have," Newton says.
Telling Your Story
When fee-for-service models were the more prevalent of the two, hospitals would focus on throughput and driving efficiency. Your marketing team might have highlighted the features of your product that would facilitate that throughput, using benefit statements such as "See 3x more patients per day," for example.
The landscape has shifted when it comes to patient satisfaction and care models. In the past, home was on one end of the spectrum (let's say the left side), primary care was in the middle, and hospitals were on the right. The story is moving farther and farther left, and you will want to be thoughtful about marketing your solution in this rapidly changing environment.
Today, instead of asking how your product promotes efficiency, you need to ask "How can this product dramatically improve patient and provider (end user) experiences in order to drive improvements in care?" That can be a harder question to answer. You need to understand not only engagement strategies as they exist in the care setting, but also increased transparency, and your product needs to reflect that.
Patient awareness has major value. A solution that breaks the tech barrier created by data entry during appointments will provide more value than a solution that only enables providers to move more quickly, for example.
"As we move toward precision medicine, bringing back the personalized approach is a huge win for care providers," says Newton. "Your technology needs to enable that, and you need to tell the story about why it's so important. It's a longer, more sophisticated, more nuanced story about why patient satisfaction (or feeling valued) via technology is critically important to financial health."
Measuring Patient Satisfaction
Let's say you know that the solution you're marketing does provide value to patients. That knowledge doesn't necessarily have the visible data to back it up yet.
"This process is in the formative stages," says Newton. "Organizations are required to measure some level of satisfaction, and there are technologies out there to help with that measurement, such as expectation management tools. But because the net promoter score is just now filtering into healthcare and there isn't uniformity yet, there will be an ongoing effort by your competitors to help providers measure engagement and satisfaction."
On the backend, that may require some custom market research, so your team can discover what elements of understanding satisfaction are missing from a provider's toolbox. For you, telling that story will be a matter of just having the story to tell. If you can measure your product's effect on patient satisfaction — and that effect is positive — you will have a benefits statement that stands out among the crowd.
Additionally, the shift from patient to client is becoming more acute. As providers begin to treat patients like clients, they will continue to increase investments in CRMs. They'll have engagement statistics of their own, which you can learn from. You also have an opportunity to highlight how your solution or your marketing efforts can integrate with their CRM.
Lastly, the Personal Connect Health Alliance is working on a scoring system to measure patient involvement in their own health, says Newton.
"The intent is to make that regional, personalized and local. This is an area I see growing significantly in the next five to ten years. Tech is being put into patient hands so they can better understand and manage their health.
"Their home is becoming an extension of the health organization setting, walls are becoming more transparent, and traditional vendors need to stretch their understanding and their audience beyond those walls in order to connect with patient satisfaction on a deeper level."