Now more than ever, patients value strong, meaningful relationships with their healthcare providers. Post-COVID, they expect those relationships to remain consistently positive and supportive. The fact is, much of the patient relationship happens outside official office visits. These interactions may determine whether patients continue with a provider or insurer long term.
Providing high-quality customer experience (CX) is especially critical for Medicare Advantage insurers, where a drop in Star Ratings could cost millions of dollars. But it’s also important for Health Insurance Marketplace insurers, where consumers may have multiple choices, and for providers, who are often scored on rating websites.
Apart from any concern with ratings, though, quality CX beyond the office visit matters for complete patient health. It helps providers and payers more effectively encourage preventive care and promote healthy lifestyles.
What is required for a good healthcare CX strategy? In short, it should anticipate patients’ needs and be prepared to not only meet but exceed their expectations. And it should be deeply rooted in empathy. Especially in healthcare, patients need to feel heard and cared for by everyone in the system.
Payers and patient experience
Insurance providers can make a huge difference in a patient’s experience with the healthcare system, so they need to be able to answer these key questions:
- Is it easy to understand what is covered and what isn’t?
While payers spell out this information in their policies, that doesn’t mean a stressed patient will find it and understand it. It may be in legal language that’s tough to penetrate. It’s important to have empathetic agents available to walk them through it.
- Is it easy to find in-network providers?
Again, you must make it easy to locate this information both online, and if necessary, by phone, text, or chat.
- How long does preauthorization take?
When patients are ill, delays can be worrying. The care they need may not be urgent, but it can feel that way to someone who’s sick or advocating for an ill family member. Payers should have efficient processes that provide clear answers quickly, and they should respond to appeals quickly.
Patient experience questions for providers
A healthcare professional may have a fantastic bedside manner, but if other aspects of dealing with the practice are difficult, patients may exit—or never make the first appointment. Here are issues to consider:
- Are your patient education materials understandable and accessible to all populations
Website information should be presented in a variety of formats, written and video, using plain, easily understandable language for a lay audience. And obviously, websites and phone lines need to have accessible options for patients with disabilities.
- Is the patient portal easy to use for both staff and patients?
Check that the fields patients must choose from make sense and that staff respond to queries promptly.
- Are patient bills understandable, and is it easy to pay them?
Healthcare bills can be notoriously complex. That’s why it’s essential to have knowledgeable and patient staff ready to explain them. Multiple ways to pay, including a thoroughly tested online or in-app experience, make payment easier for patients. If patients find your bill hard to understand or hard to pay, they’re likely to set it aside for later, delaying much-needed income.
Patient experience questions for both payers and providers
- How easy is it for patients to interact with you digitally?
Thoroughly test the user experience with users who are representative of your patient population and continue to seek and respond to feedback on the experience.
- How easy is it for patients to interact nondigitally?
Make sure you have created a call center experience that leaves patients with a positive impression. Your interactive voice response (IVR) and AI technology should work harmoniously and efficiently with your human staff, so patients don’t have to repeat information and agents have the details they need to provide great service.
- Are all cultures respected?
Contact center staff should be trained in multicultural communications, and options for bilingual calls and chats should be readily available.
- Can patients be confident their private information is kept secure?
The healthcare industry has been targeted repeatedly by ransomware and other attacks and cannot afford to skimp on cybersecurity. Healthcare organizations must ensure not only that their internal organizations follow security protocols, but that all contractors they use also follow strict security standards.
- Is empathy baked into all your interactions?
Empathy is the critical ingredient in all successful CX, and it’s especially important in healthcare. Those dealing with patients need both a high level of expertise so they can handle issues knowledgeably and a deep level of emotional intelligence to provide the caring, empathic responses patients need. They should be trained to incorporate active listening, establish emotional connections with patients, and tailor their interactions to meet individual patient needs.
An outsourcing partner can help
Healthcare organizations have many important matters to tend to each day, so it’s no surprise that sometimes the out-of-office details of the patient experience don’t rise to the top. It can be helpful to delegate those tasks to an outsourcing partner.
Ubiquity offers services for payers and providers, including targeted adherence outreach, physician portal tools and support, and revenue cycle management support. Our combination of AI-infused technology and dedicated, empathetic staff can help you provide the CX your patients deserve.