As a professional in the health care industry, part of your responsibility is to provide quality care solutions that will improve clinical outcomes and thus increase patient satisfaction. That being said, you’ll be expected to make moves that’ll create the best possible experience for the patients. Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety policy at the American Hospital Association told U.S. News & World Report that while it’s important for all industries to provide the best service they can, health care settings are under more pressure in that regard.
“It is important for every organization that serves the public to give the customer their best possible service,” she said. “For a hospital, it is more than just a business imperative. Hospitals and other health care providers have a special role of serving patients and their families at some of the most challenging and critical times of their lives. Creating a soothing environment; engaging patients and family members in care decisions; enabling patients to have the support of family members and other loved ones at these times of great stress and ensuring they feel supported, informed and engaged is not only the right thing to do, it has been shown to promote healing.”
Beyond creating a positive environment for patients, health care professionals have the ability to utilize health information technology, which can improve the patient experience to an even further extent. As stated in “Evidence Reports: Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology” by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, health information technology has the potential to provide cost-effective, efficient quality care for patients. Overall, using health IT systems has the ability to create a better encounter with health care professionals, both within the health care setting and from a distance.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways health IT can improve patient satisfaction:
1. It Provides Patients Quick Access to their Personal Health Information
By utilizing health IT, clinicians have immediate access to patients’ personal health information and history that can also be shared with them instantly. This allows patients to receive the best and most current care possible, according to Health IT. Patients will benefit from the system in the following ways:
- They’ll have access to evidence-based guidelines to make the best possible decisions.
- They’ll receive care with the utmost safety in mind.
- They’ll have access to health maintenance guidance tips so they can be as proactive as possible.
- They’ll have the ability to coordinate care with other providers in a secure setting.
2. It Reduces Patient Wait Times
According to Vitals’ annual Wait Time Report, patients spend an average time of 19 minutes and 16 seconds waiting to see a health care professional after checking in. While this might not seem like a long waiting time, the issue is that patients expect to see the clinician at the time of their exact appointment, not 20 minutes later. While push backs are inevitable, web-based technology can offer a new way to wait, which may increase patient satisfaction in the practice. According to Physicians Practice, an online check-in system is the solution. Essentially, it allows the patient to wait for his or her appointment wherever he or she pleases. After a patient goes online and checks in, his or her appointment will be held in a queue. When the clinician is ready for the appointment, the patient will receive a notification via text message. This allows the patient to make good use of his or her time, rather than watching the clock in the waiting room.
Evolving technology can be an effective and efficient way to increase patient satisfaction and improve the overall experience.
3. It Improves Communication with Patients
According to research conducted by Jennifer King, Ph.D. titled “Clinical Benefits of Electronic Health Record Use: National Findings,” between 30 and 50 percent of physicians believe that the use of electronic health records was beneficial in the sense that it efficiently provided recommended care and also improved overall communication with patients. Communication system features, such as the patient portal, allow patients to reach out to a physician at any given time. Not only is it a great way to discuss current health concerns, it’s one of the most convenient and effective uses of time.
It’s a gateway of discussion that allows patients to ask non-critical concerning questions without calling the clinician’s office, scheduling an appointment and driving to the center to receive the information. Encouraging patients to use a patient portal can improve customer service reputation, improve the overall experience for the patient and help to streamline a study workflow throughout the workplace.
4. It Educates Patients More Thoroughly
Along with acting as an effective resource for long-distance communication, features like the patient portal give patients access to educational information. This is another simple way to improve the patient experience, according to Healthcare IT News. Patients can use the informational materials provided by clinicians through health IT to learn more about the current status of their health, existing conditions and more. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, research shows that patients who are more engaged in their own health care are more likely to see the overall quality and safety improvements, increasing satisfaction as a patient. Giving patients access to educational material will not only increase their satisfaction, it’ll also improve the reputation of the health care setting.
5. It Offers a Better Way to Manage Prescriptions
According to research by Eric Jamoom, Ph.D, MPH, MS, titled “National perceptions of HER adoption: Barriers, impacts, and federal policies,” 82 percent of doctors surveyed reported that sending prescriptions electronically can save time. This is beneficial for clinicians, pharmacists, and patients. Instead of handing a patient a paper prescription to send to the pharmacist, doctors can prescribe medications on the spot and send directly to the pharmacy via e-prescribing using a health IT system. Patients can receive a notification via text message when their prescriptions are ready, saving time dedicated to waiting as well.
If you’re interested in furthering your education and increasing your potential of acquiring a better paying job in the health care industry, it’s time to enroll in the Master of Health Informatics program at the University of Cincinnati. Throughout your studies, you’ll discover trends in health IT and you can learn new skills and knowledge needed to develop solutions for the problems you may face as the health care landscape continues to change. With a graduate degree, you can gain more experience that can set your apart from your colleagues as you search for a career in health informatics.
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