Patient satisfaction

The Heart of Healthcare: Putting the Patient Experience First

November 8, 2023
6 min read
Last updated on
  • The patient experience is an important part of healthcare, as it can potentially impact patient satisfaction, operational efficiency and practice reputation.
  • Implementing technology that doesn’t sacrifice the human side of care may help create a positive experience that your patients enjoy.
  • Klara’s Patient Experience Quiz can help you rate the patient experience at your practice, identify areas where you may want to make improvements and provide actionable strategies that may help make your patient experience better than ever.
The Heart of Healthcare: Putting the Patient Experience First

In today’s digital world, consumers seek out convenience to simplify their daily lives — whether they’re shopping online, making a financial transaction or managing their health. While some industries are up-to-speed on these digital-first expectations, healthcare has been slower to respond

Medical practices may want to take this into consideration and assess their patient experience strategies. In this post, we show you why the patient experience matters, how to measure the patient experience at your practice and provide potential areas where you may want to consider making improvements.

Table of contents

Why the patient experience matters

The patient experience extends beyond the in-office time a patient meets with their doctors. Any touchpoint they have with a provider — including before, during, and after an appointment — is part of the patient experience. Even some situations where a patient isn’t directly interacting with a provider may count as part of the patient experience; for example, when they realize they might need care and need to decide who to see. Taking a comprehensive approach to the patient experience may help your practice be competitive and attract new and returning patients. 

Key patient experience factors

The patient experience includes a variety of interactions and processes across the entire patient journey. Some examples include:

  • Scheduling an appointment
  • Completing intake paperwork
  • Making calls to your practice
  • Receiving calls from your practice
  • Visiting your office
  • Interacting with your staff
  • Waiting in the in-person or virtual waiting room
  • Waiting in the exam room
  • Getting vitals checked
  • Seeing a practitioner 
  • Making a payment 
  • Using your website or patient portal
  • Perusing your social media channels
  • Reading reviews of your practice
  • Doing labs or other tests
  • Waiting for and receiving results
  • Adhering to their care plan

In addition to the types of situations that contribute to a patient’s overall experience are the communication channels that are available to them throughout their patient journey. In other words, are they limited to phone calls or can they two-way message your practice? Is intake a manual process or can forms be submitted digitally? Can patients use your website or patient portal to schedule appointments, make payments, request prescription refills or download test results?

How a positive patient experience may impact your business

Your patient experience can have the potential to impact other areas of your practice. In fact, research has found that better patient experience scores at hospitals positively correlated to some clinical outcomes and was associated with higher hospital profitability.  

Other studies suggest that a positive patient experience will positively impact patient satisfaction and retention. For example:

  • 71% of people surveyed cited access — like appointment availability, convenience, customer service, and preferred communication channel options — as a top factor in selecting a new healthcare provider.
  • Patients with providers that are “easy to work with” are nine times more likely to stay.
  • The digital patient experience matters:
  • 57% of patients said they would be more likely to recommend a provider if they had a good digital experience, while 35% said they would switch providers to get a better digital experience.
  • One in three patients prefer to visit a doctor’s website before going to an appointment and most patients cite a modern-looking website as important to their experience.
  • Nine out of 10 patients surveyed reported that it was important their doctors to use the latest technology.

How a better patient experience is associated with higher hospital profitability

As mentioned, researchers have identified a positive correlation between patient experience and hospital profitability. According to their report, hospitals with “excellent” patient ratings had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with lower ratings.

Patient reviews and recommendations

Patients who are satisfied may be more likely to be your advocates which could lead them to leave positive online reviews and recommend your practice to their friends and family. This kind of word-of-mouth marketing can be a helpful way for medical practices to attract new patients. According to one industry study, patients use reviews to share their experiences and to make decisions about their care:

  • 39% of patients said a positive experience prompted them to leave a review, compared to 24% who were prompted by a negative experience.
  • 86% of patients said they read online patient reviews.
  • 73% said they’ll only engage with a provider or physician if they have a minimum rating of four stars.
  • 65% of patients surveyed selected one practice over another based on online ratings and reviews.

As shown from these statistics, having positive patient experiences and reviews  may help your practice attract new patients. For these reasons, consider focusing on providing  positive experiences that may lead to your patients advocating for your practice. Additionally, it may be helpful to make it easy for them to do so by sending patient satisfaction surveys and links to your online review pages.

Fewer no-shows

When patients are digitally engaged, they may be more likely to show up to their schedule appointments. In fact, studies show that text message appointment reminders may reduce no-show rates. Other engagement efforts may help you prevent lost appointments as well.

Smoother patient journey

While all patient journeys look different, here is a potential journey that includes technology throughout:

  • A patient schedules an appointment online in minutes.
  • They submit insurance and intake paperwork digitally.
  • They receive appointment reminders via text message and show up to their appointment on time. 
  • They are seen promptly upon arrival at the doctor’s office or virtual waiting room.
  • They have pleasant interactions with the office staff.
  • Their practitioners spend quality time during the visit, asking questions, listening to patient concerns, offering support, and staying engaged.
  • They receive post-visit communications relevant to their case (such as a thank you for coming, a check-in on their health, a link to a satisfaction survey, etc.). 
  • They have the ability to text their practice with any questions they may have about their visit or care plan.
  • Between appointments, they receive helpful health information that’s relevant to them.

With a tech-powered engagement strategy, patients may be likely to experience a journey like this. In fact, in Klara’s Patient Experience Report: What Patients Really Think, patients told us they place importance on their doctors using the latest technology. In addition, our study of 2,000 patients revealed:

  • 79% of patients place importance on timeliness and wait time when deciding to see the same doctor.
  • Nearly half (42%) of patients have left because they waited too long.
  • 67% place importance on doctors that are personable and engaged.
  • 68% are frustrated when they call their providers and have to wait for a callback.
  • One in three switched doctors because of unfriendly staff.

Digitally Capture Patient Payments

In addition, our patient experience study found that a digital payment strategy may help you capture patient payments:

  • More than half of patients are more likely to pay a doctor's bill faster than usual if they receive a text message reminder — and if they’re given an online option.
  • 47% of patients are likely to store credit card information on file to make payments automatically.

Rate the patient experience at your practice

So how does your practice’s patient experience measure up? 

Our 2-minute quiz helps you assess the quality of your practice’s patient communication — and how this might impact patient satisfaction. Based on your answers, we’ll send you a tailor-made action plan that you can start sharing with your colleagues and implementing today.

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute business, legal or medical advice. Please consult with your legal counsel and other qualified advisors to ensure compliance with applicable laws, regulations and standards.

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