The Value of Improved Patient Experience in 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic created a spotlight on hygiene in the fields of medicine. For US hospitals and healthcare providers, pricing transparency is now compulsory. As we move forward in a socially distant, hygienically-aware “new normal”, single-use devices (SUDs) could play a significant role in your patient experience. Indeed, by using single-use medical devices and explaining them to your patients, providers have an opportunity to build patient confidence and develop a foundation for client retention. Bedside manner still matters, of course. However, this year, patients will be more reluctant than usual to enter a hospital setting or local clinic for anything less than an immediately life-threatening situation.
In other words, 2021 will be a time of highly educated and nervous — even mysophobic — patients. The usual fears associated with dental treatment or the anxiety women associate with a PAP smear will be amplified. 2020 saw such procedures postponed. They mustn’t be delayed any longer.
It’s time to coax patients back for the procedures they need to stay healthy.
The Patient Decision-Making Process Will Change in 2021
In recent decades, most US patients based their choice in healthcare or dental care providers based on issues like insurance acceptance, location/accessibility, expertise, and reputation.
- Price was not a factor for insured individuals in the US
- Provider prices weren’t available to research
- Co-pays were generally static from one provider to the next, as long as a patient stayed “in-network”
- Many emergency room patients arrived at a hospital knowing there would be hefty bills to pay later but utterly unable to hazard a guess at them
Then, in October 2020, the Trump Administration issued a final rule on price transparency. The rule requires that almost all health insurance companies and self-insured plans publish prices and cost-sharing information. Now your patients will see exactly how much care costs.
The CDC says “under this final rule, more than 200 million Americans with private-sector insurance […] will have access to a list of real-time price information, including cost-sharing, enabling them to know how much care will cost them before going in for treatment.”
Now, consumers will see the negotiated rate between their doctor and insurer via a shopping tool available through their insurer or the hospital. They’ll finally have a notion of real out-of-pocket costs for procedures, medications, durable medical equipment, and single-use medical devices.
We realize that an individual with a life-threatening emergency will probably select the nearest facility with open beds. But patients with planned outpatient procedures and preventative care appointments will spend more time researching costs and establishing a perceived value for the care they are about to receive. And your organization must live up to those expectations!
How Changes in Patient Choice Will Manifest
For hospitals, your Leapfrog Hospital Scoring grades and local reputation on social media will be weighed against your prices and those of your competitors in 2021. While the numbers are yet to be written, it makes sense that the stiffest competition will likely arise in more affluent cities with many hospital and provider options.
Providers serving “medical deserts“, those areas with few healthcare choices within a one-hour drive, won’t be affected as much. However, Medicare and Medicaid providers — common in those situations — may find their patients paying closer attention to Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS/”HCAPS“) scores.
Still, there is a wild card we haven’t explored: the COVID-19 post-pandemic experience. Patients will discuss hospitals and practices of all sizes and locations online. Your patients’ experiences will be exposed to the local community at a most granular level, and to their friends and families via social media. In our modern age of viral video and social media, all it takes is one poor patient review regarding cleanliness to affect your bottom line negatively.
You already know that US patients have constant access to information in the palm of their hands. Thus, marketing and providing an improved patient experience will be key in 2021.
How to Improve Patient Experience/Perceived Value in the Wake of COVID-19
We mentioned the importance of bedside manner earlier. It’s a critical medical skill that will be more important in 2021.
Per St. George’s University, excellent bedside manner includes:
- Strong communication skills
- Quality first impressions
- Spending enough time with patients/sitting down with them
- Professional but understandable speech
- Productive conversations
- Active, thoughtful listening
- Body language
- Validating patient concerns
- And valuing your patients’ time as much as yours
A satisfactory bedside manner isn’t just a courtesy. It’s a key element to your patients’ health and your organization’s success. Furthermore, know your patients will be looking for perfect hygiene in 2021. Providers, admin, and janitorial staff must all be on board.
Hospital Hygiene in 2021
Lobbies and waiting rooms must be immaculate, socially distant, and regularly sanitized. Hand-washing or sanitizing stations must be available everywhere on a hospital campus. Plus, adequate signage must convey their use in whatever languages necessary in your local market.
Beyond that, staff must be practicing hand hygiene frequently for patients to see. As a medical professional, you already know the value of hand hygiene. We won’t bore you with repeat information. However, your clients are now acutely aware of it, too. They’ve been inundated with that information for a year.
Another way to instill a sense of hygiene and increased value for your patients is to use single-use medical devices and explain them to your patients.
How Single-Use Medical Devices Can Improve Patient Experience
Old-fashioned specula are psychologically intrusive and physically cold. They make an abrupt and noisy change to our bodies that women can’t see. The OB/GYN adjusts an outside light to peer into our nether-region while the patient wonders precisely how many patients that speculum has visited today. It’s unnerving.
One cannot describe how much better the experience would have been if the OB/GYN had unwrapped a sterile device, used it without the nerve-wracking clicks and adjustments, and tossed it in the biohazard container when finished, during all those pregnancy challenges.
Self-lit specula are only one advancement in the realms of SUDs. By sitting down, explaining the use of a self-lit, sterile device, practitioners can embody the bedside manner patients will be measuring and posting about in a post-pandemic world. Check out our devices here, and contact us for a sample today.