Extending the patient experience

Team lead of the Healthcare division of SIM Partners, provider of local marketing automation technology for healthcare systems

Many healthcare providers are trying to create a better patient experience by making their facilities more user friendly and attractive. Forward-thinking hospitals such as Cleveland Clinic employ an office of patient experience to provide more integrated and smart services to patients the moment they walk in the door of the facility. Those efforts are important and laudable. But the patient experience extends beyond the facility. To provide a better patient experience, hospitals need to think beyond the four walls of the facility and pay closer attention to the entire patient journey, from awareness to retention.

The patient experience should begin the moment a patient searches for care, continue with patient onboarding, and extend to patient retention. Hospitals that provide great patient experiences are findable and useful when patients conduct searches for care and beyond. Doing so means getting a lot of little things right, such as:

● Making your providers easily findable with accurate, complete information across the entire digital world where patients conduct searches, including Google, Yelp, and rating/review sites. When patients search for "cardiologist near me," your facility should appear with accurate, up-to-date information about your cardiology specialists, the insurance they cover, their certification, and a host of other important data, such as their hours of operation, address, and phone number. Doing so is a lot easier said than done. After all, physicians often operate out of multiple locations and keep different hours.

● Making it easy for patients to find you on your own website, which is where effective find-a-physician directories come into play. Good find-a-physician directories need to perform as well as the best store locators in retail, combining elegant search with accurate provider information.

● Making it easy for patients to do business with you once they have found your providers -- in other words, making your care more accessible through tools such as scheduling widgets and useful directions to your provider.

● Providing wellness care once patients are part of your healthcare system. Progressive healthcare systems are using mobile wallets and wearables to help patients track their health. Healthcare systems can even gamify wellness by rewarding points for patients who manage their health effectively.

Of course, what happens inside the four walls is essential, but as the above examples show, the patient experience extends across the entire digital world. How are you extending the patient experience? Contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Eric Borchers is SIM Partners' Director of Enterprise Sales. He possesses more 33 years of healthcare experience, including 10 years working in hospital. His background includes experience in healthcare information technology, accountable care organizations (ACO), and patient engagement strategies.

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