5 Ways Patient Experience and Healthcare Will Change in 2014

by Jeannie Walters

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We’ve been having some fun around here with predictions.

It’s always intriguing to channel Nostradamus and predict what will be new or different in the coming year. With so many changes around healthcare and the Affordable Care Act in the United States, I decided to take a look at patient experience.

Here’s a list of what I *hope* will change, what probably won’t and what will absolutely change for patients. Please note: This is NOT a political post. We’re not discussing the pros/cons of the new laws. Please don’t hijack the comments to do so! Thank you. 😉 Instead, please DO share your thoughts on what works or doesn’t when you are a patient in the healthcare process.

patient experience

1. Patient experience will grow in importance.

With more people gaining different amounts of control over their healthcare spending, patients will have a choice in where they go for treatment. They will want to understand why Dr. Smith charges $200 for a procedure that Dr. Jones charges $2000 for. They will have access to information, reviews and more. This will empower them to walk away and understand their business is still business to be given and taken away.

2. Communication about invoicing and insurance BETTER improve.

I don’t know if it will. Providers and healthcare front office staff and all of us will have to live through the misunderstandings of rolling out a new system. But there are so many things wrong with how healthcare financial discussions are handled. The “Explanation of Benefits” often leave insurance customers saying “huh?” The doctors themselves don’t often understand what is charged and what isn’t. And the patients are left making too many phone calls to count to sort out what should have been sorted out long ago. This simply has to stop.

patient experience
ZocDoc provides multichannel options for patients to schedule how they want.

3. Scheduling and feedback will continue to evolve.

The painful process of dealing with a “central scheduling” office that is only open from the hours of 10 am – 3 pm is archaic. Yes, have a place to call for scheduling appointments and procedures. But use the wonderful technology available! ZocDoc is certainly the leader here, providing easy technology to help doctors schedule online. Patients don’t want to make awkward phone calls to schedule a quick appointment. Give them the option of scheduling the way they want – online, both at their computers and via their mobile devices!

4. The best experiences rely on the best people.

This isn’t just about the doctors. This is about everyone in the healthcare process. The front office better get some training on how to greet people with compassion and not just on the billing system. The nurses, who pretty much save the day for hospital stays, deserve respect and decent salaries in order to keep the best ones where they are needed. People drive healthcare, no matter what fancy technology you are using.

patient experience

5. Healthcare workers should do more to promote their cause.

What is their cause? Their cause is around the amazing work they do every day to make us, the patients, feel better and get healthier. Seattle Children’s Hospital made a video that went viral for great reason. More shouting from the rooftops about the great stuff like this and less complaining about the new laws should be the rallying cry in 2014.  Rock on. You guys are amazing. Let us know how!

There is so much change right now it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Instead of looking at what shouldn’t happen or is wrong with the system, how about we focus on how to make it easier for anyone? We can do this.

Here’s to a very healthy 2014!

Photo credits: superturtleCOD Newsroom via Creative Commons

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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