We have been told countless times that customers always come first. In the same way, the real experience occurs, especially in healthcare. As patients, we choose a hospital that prioritises our wants and needs. In other words, we consider the patient experience it offers as we build loyalty to a doctor or a hospital that has met our criteria.
Hospitals today are quickly embracing the benefits of excellent care experience for patients. For Medistra Hospital, getting this done starts with identifying the most problematic area in the entire patient experience.
In an interview with Hospital Insights Asia, Medistra Hospital’s CEO Dr Dini Handayani shares how patients value consultation time and quality in rating their overall hospital experience. In its campaign to become the patients’ “real partner” in healthcare, the hospital collects data using the Voice of the Customer methodology.
Data collected from February 2020 reveal that the most important aspect of patient experience concerns meeting with doctors.
Firstly, patients want more time to consult with doctors. They want to explain their health condition and have all the information for treatment options, care plan and follow-up, as well as education for their specific diagnosis. BMJ discovers that patients want to spend more time with a doctor so they can explain what they came for and so the doctor can really make them understand what is going on with their health.
Unsurprisingly, Siloam Hospitals Group finds the same feedback in their teleconsultation services. Their patients appreciate that they are “now able to spend more time with the doctor” and “get 15 minutes or so with the doctor’s full attention”, says Siloam’s CIO Ryanto Marino Tedjomulja.
Secondly, patients value timeliness in medical appointments. This is why Medistra Hospital asks about the waiting time of patients when they go for consultations as this can be a highly important factor for most clients. Also, patients appreciate a swift response time during emergencies. As much as possible, they want to schedule doctor appointments in just a few hours, especially if they are really unwell.
Lastly, patients look at the quality of consultation, especially the information provided by the doctors. Besides the minutes’ count, patients want satisfying content in consulting with doctors. A study finds that these two factors are related in a way — patients can feel that the consultation is short because of the quality of content shared by the doctor.
Knowing the above pain points for their patients allows Medistra Hospital to consistently innovate its processes. They look at the data as actual ratings of their services from their patients. For Dr Handayani, patient experience is “a very 360 degree or a very robust improvement process” that goes beyond achieving patient satisfaction and asking yes or no questions.
As such, they send collected data to all concerned departments so the latter can take necessary steps to strengthen the weak points in their respective systems. So far, the majority of the improvements done by Medistra Hospital are related to system and re-design process, Dr Handayani remarks.
More than improving patient experience, dealing with the pain points is also about securing a loyal patient base. Patients regard such areas as most important in their hospital experience, hence, the same areas are what they look at when choosing which hospital to get treatment from. Research proves that “patient experience is five times more likely to influence brand loyalty than other marketing strategies”. Normally, patients return to a clinic that meets their expectation during the first visit. As Dr Handayani puts it, “a great patient experience makes your hospital the patient’s first choice”.
Accordingly, an extraordinary patient experience helps attract new patients as the loyal ones will recommend the hospital. When searching for a hospital, patients often ask for a referral or look at patient ratings and reviews online. If a patient is happy with the experience he got from your hospital, he will most likely recommend the hospital to friends who can be your new clients.
Hospitals that acknowledge patient experience as the “most salient point in the hospital industry” can uphold quality. Dr Handayani points out that it is about “knowing what really happened with patients during their treatment and stay in the hospital”. In approaching patient experience, hospital accreditation does not even matter. A KARS and JCI surveyor, Dr Handayani thinks that there is no limit to a hospital’s capability to provide high-quality healthcare services. In fact, focus on advancing patient experience will certainly enhance the quality level of service for both locally or internationally accredited hospital.
Essentially, first-rate patient experience builds competitiveness. As Dr Handayani puts it, “It is not just about the equipment or resources in your hospital; in the end, it is really about how you deal with patients and have them as your real partner”.