According to a study by Deloitte, global spending on healthcare will increase at an annual rate of more than 4% for the next two years, reaching a combined spend of more than $8.7 trillion in the coming year. This consistent increase in spending is primarily driven by ageing and growing populations, market expansion and technology advances.
While this increase in spending is no doubt profitable for the health care industry, it also poses challenges. As more and more patients begin to seek higher levels of care, the competition in the in the industry increases. With more market entrants, particularly in private healthcare, there is an increasing focus on both the standards of care and the overall experience offered by facilities.
The starting point to understanding and driving patient experience is to clearly understand what patient experience is and how it differs from patient satisfaction.
Patient satisfaction covers the subjective context of expectation. Two people who receive the same care can have vastly different levels of expectation, and therefore, very different perceptions of satisfaction. For the most part, patient satisfaction deals with how a patient feels about the care they receive, making it harder for healthcare institutions to know what could be done differently.
Patient experience(PX), on the other hand, is critical to understanding the quality of care that a patient receives. It covers a range of interactions from the service delivered by healthcare plans to communication from doctors and cleanliness of facilities. A universal standard, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a commonly used and recognised methodology of comparing the quality of care offered by different medical facilities.
Why measure Patient Experience at all?
Gone are the days where medical practitioners and facilities were guaranteed a patient's business. Rising medical costs and increased options means that patients are experiencing an ever-increasing financial risk associated with the selection of medical care. A greater sense of risk has led to patients becoming more personally involved in their healthcare decision. Just as with any other industry, once personal preference comes into play, the experience a person perceives becomes as essential as the utilitarian benefit associated with the buying decision.
Collecting and interpreting PX data provides obvious benefits of understanding failures and enabling the early detection of regulatory compliance issues, but beyond this, it has a direct impact on a medical facilities ability to attract and retain patients.
PX revolves around viewing each patient as an individual and striving to provide the best possible healthcare outcome for each. Studies have found that the more a person is treated as an individual, the more likely they are to engage in their own health outcomes, creating a link between positive clinical results and PX.
In some geographies, PX is being used by insurers as a metric to assess the quality of medical facilities and structure contractual agreements. While striving for the best possible relationship with insurers will undoubtedly impact a medical facilities profitability, the real value is in patient loyalty. Estimates have found that the average lifetime value of a patient in the private healthcare sector is more than $1million, and a single negative patient experience can divert this lifetime revenue elsewhere.
There is no doubt that the measurement and improvement of PX are swiftly becoming a strategic imperative for the healthcare industry, but with such a plethora of measurement options available, what is the best way of tacking this challenge?
The Role of HCAHPS
HCAHPS is a set of surveys that ask adult patients to report on their healthcare experience. While not necessarily legislated in all geographies, HCAHPS has become a generally accepted standard against which medical facilities measure themselves. In some instances, this voluntary measurement is used to identify best performing hospitals, making the results of the analysis a competitive advantage.
There are, of course, many metrics and questions that can be used to measure patient experience; however, aligning to a robust set of parameters such as HCAPS makes sense. By aligning metrics with an accepted standard, there is a certainty that what is being measured truly matters to patients. Furthermore, the measurement provides medical organisations with comparable results across the global healthcare industry.
An HCAPS aligned PX solution measures eight key dimensions across various areas of the hospital to provide a standardised data collection methodology. The Voice of the Patient is collected at various touchpoints ranging from trauma or admissions through to discharge to produce comparable data on the patient's perspective of care allowing for meaningful comparisons between facilities
The healthcare industry operates in a complex environment that is equal parts competitive and highly regulated. Added to this, are the genuine consequences attached to the nature of their services, indeed life and death. For the most part, their interactions with patients are high value, both in emotion and financial cost, and as such, the experience offered is undoubtedly essential.
Opting for a PX solution is almost a non-negotiable for any healthcare organisation wanting to compete in this ever-evolving landscape, and adopting a process aligned to global standards such as HCAPS makes sense.
Read more about a large hospital group's success with our PX solution